COP28 kicks off today in Dubai against the backdrop of the hottest year on record, with questions looming over the Australian government’s refusal to act on fossil fuel phase out.

Protest at the Burrup Hub Gas Project in Australia
Greenpeace activist sends a message telling woodside to stop dredging for the Burrup Hub Gas Project.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific has revealed the first images of fossil fuel company Woodside dredging in endangered sea turtle habitat to lay a pipeline for its Burrup Hub gas project, and has vowed to escalate pressure on the company.

The annual climate conference commences as Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen delivers his second Annual Climate Change Statement, which is expected to show that Australia is on track to cut emissions by 42% by 2030. 

But when Minister Bowen lands in Dubai next week, he will face significant pressure over the government’s inaction on phasing out fossil fuels, with massive new coal and gas projects including Woodside’s Burrup Hub still in the pipeline — completely undermining any progress made towards reaching our 2030 target and limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

Speaking from Dubai, Head of Pacific at Greenpeace Shiva Gounden, said that if Australia is serious about showing true climate leadership in our region and partnering with Pacific nations to co-host COP31, its actions must match its rhetoric.

“We’ve seen a frustrating lack of ambition from the Australian government in the lead up to COP28, deploying chequebook diplomacy and making modest commitments which fall short of expectations to address the accelerating climate destruction we’re seeing in real time,” Gounden said.

“While progress towards reaching our emissions reduction target is positive, any gains are completely dwarfed by plans to expand fossil fuel exports. Does Minister Bowen really expect the world to praise Australia’s progress on meeting its 43% target, and ignore the colossal elephant in the room — the billions of tonnes of emissions generated if all the coal and gas projects currently undergoing federal approval went ahead?

“COP28 must be a moment of reckoning on fossil fuels. If we have any chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees — a figure which the Global Stocktake warns we are dangerously off course from meeting — we must keep fossil fuels in the ground and end the billions of dollars of subsidies poured into these polluting industries every year.

“1.5 degrees is not simply a ‘nice-to-have’ — it’s a lifeline for our Pacific communities who are facing urgent threats to their livelihoods, their culture, their very existence.

“The Australian government’s actions in Dubai must match its rhetoric. I urge Minister Bowen to come to COP28 with a real plan to phase out fossil fuels and to make significant contributions to a Loss and Damage fund to help support Pacific nations grappling with climate harm — there is no time to lose.”


Greenpeace Australia Pacific will be on the ground in Dubai during COP28 and can provide a range of COP delegates, experts and Pacific climate leaders for interviews and commentary.