Pacific Island leaders have penned an open letter demanding Australia take urgent and decisive climate action ahead of a key international summit.
It comes as voices within the government begin to speak up on support for a net zero carbon emissions by 2050 target.
Liberal MP Warren Entsch is the Great Barrier Reef envoy and hopes the government adopts the goal.
“I certainly believe that looking at a 2050 target is not unreasonable,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.
“We certainly are in a position I think to be able to give that commitment and I hope that down the track we do that.”
The government still argues Australia’s efforts must occur as part of a global shift, while key trading partners have already committed to net zero time frames.
“You don’t get outcomes – in terms of emission reduction Pacific island nations may wish to see – unless other nations not only make commitments but then also deliver on those commitments,” government Senate leader Simon Birmingham told parliament.
“The delivery seems to be a key part often put aside in some of the virtue-signalling aspects of this debate.
“We see delivery as essential and that’s where our focus is when it comes to emissions reduction.”
Political and religious figures from across the Pacific have urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to show more courage on climate change.
The calls have been backed by former prime minister Kevin Rudd and previous Liberal leader John Hewson.
“Today’s letter demonstrates just how much the Australian government’s failure to act is a slap in the face to the Pacific, especially at a time when the government is trying to step-up its own engagement in the region,” Mr Rudd said.
Warning their homelands and cultures face certain devastation from global warming, the Pacific leaders are asking Mr Morrison to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 and develop a long-term strategy by 2021.
They also want him to rule out using “carry-over credits” to achieve existing climate targets, casting doubt over the legal and moral justification for embracing the method.
“We call on your government to honour its international climate commitments and take urgent climate action,” they wrote in the open letter.
“As our children and grandchildren face unprecedented risks due to climate change, now is the time to stand together and work together to secure their future safety and prosperity.”
World leaders will gather virtually for the annual United Nations Climate Ambitions Summit on December 12.