Today’s announcement that Australia will launch an official bid to host the COP31 climate summit in 2026 in partnership with Pacific nations is welcomed but must be matched with real action on climate to address the Pacific’s main existential threat, Greenpeace Australia Pacific says.

Kiribati King Tides Flooding Documentation
Local resident Pita Meanke leans against a palm tree as high waves caused by the ‘King Tides’ surge past the sea wall and into his family’s property, Betio Villge, Tarawa Island, Kiribati, Pacific Ocean. Greenpeace and scientists are concerned that low lying islands face permanent inundation from rising seas due to climate change.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen confirmed the Australian government will bid to co-host COP31 with Pacific nations on the eve of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. It follows pledges from the Australian government to repair Australia’s climate reputation on the global stage and strengthen relations with the Pacific, including committing almost $46 million in the recent federal budget to improve its international standing so it can co-host a future COP. 

Shiva Gounden, Pacific advisor at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, welcomed the announcement, but urged the Australian government to match its pledges with real climate action in line with the demands of its Pacific neighbours. 

“Launching a campaign to co-host COP31 with Pacific nations opens the door for Australia to become a true climate leader on the global stage and should be welcomed. But if Australia wants to co-host COP31 with Pacific nations it must start by meeting Pacific demands for loss and damage funding and championing Pacific-led climate justice initiatives. 

“The Albanese government has made some big pledges about strengthening ties with its Pacific family on climate change, the single greatest existential threat facing the region. But it must convert this rhetoric to action and support Pacific calls for measures that meet the urgency of the climate crisis devastating its peoples, environments, and ways of life. 

“Top of the list of demands are measures which offer real, lasting impact to Pacific Island nations, which contribute the least to the climate crisis but shoulder the worst impacts. 

“Australia must support and advocate for the establishment of a dedicated Loss and Damage Finance Facility at COP27, the only effective means of providing climate compensation to nations on the frontline of the climate crisis.

“It must also step up and champion the landmark Vanuatu-led campaign for climate justice through an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the human rights impacts of climate change.

“To back up its COP31 bid in partnership with Pacific nations, Australia must go beyond a symbolic olive branch and deliver root and branch climate measures for the Pacific.”

“COP31 matters, but COP27 matters more. Australia must take real, genuine action for its Pacific neighbours now if it wants to earn a COP later.