News National Fiji calls for Australia to end ‘addiction to coal’

Fiji calls for Australia to end ‘addiction to coal’

Australia climate
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has delivered a climate change warning at a summit in Sydney. Photo: Getty
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Fiji’s Prime Minister has told Australia to end its “dangerous addiction to coal” as leaders call for a coalition of governments, businesses and communities to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“We understand the place coal occupies in the Australian economy and in Australian history and culture,” Frank Bainimarama said on Thursday at an emissions reduction forum.

“But the entire world must move more quickly to end its dependency on this deadly fossil fuel.”

He told the Carbon Markets Institute summit that Australia is not only in an influential position to phase out coal sales globally, it is also in a position to help avert a “climate catastrophe” and become a centre for global energy innovation with abundant renewable energy.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean announced his state has become a government partner supporting the Australian Carbon Industry Code of Conduct.

“We believe strong and dependable carbon markets are key to a successful transition to net zero,” he told the summit.

The code enables enforcement action against those that deliberately mislead or disadvantage clients.

NSW is now aiming for a 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, up from a prior goal of 35 per cent and backed by the nation’s largest renewable energy plan.

Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, said it was a disappointment not to see Australia with a better target than that announced in 2015 of a 26 to 28 per cent emission reduction by 2030.

“And it was even more disappointing to see two days after the conclusion of COP26, that your prime minister walked back from the commitments made at Glasgow almost before the ink was dry,” she said.

Pacific nations have long been pushing for a rapid phase-out of coal-fired power plants in Australia, which Mr Kean, at odds with his federal counterparts, says can be done in his state by 2030.

Summit host John Connor expects the summit of more than 1000 experts to “unlock paralysis” after years of uncertainty on climate policy.

“There’s investment coming in, not just anxiety.”

Mr Connor, chief executive of the Carbon Markets Institute, said a 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 is needed in order to achieve ambitions for net-zero by 2050.

Electricity, coal mining, chemicals and transport are among the most exposed sectors, and there is a risk other countries could impose carbon taxes on heavy emitters.

In the US, the green economy now employs around 10 times as many people as the hydrocarbon industry despite the recent boom years in oil and gas, BP spokesman William Lin said.

“For the energy transition to work, we have to be able to put people into work.”

He said people need to know that a transition will offer them jobs as well as affordable energy.

Fiji has called for a ‘grand coalition’ of big business, sole traders and community to fight climate change, saying every individual has a role to play.

“Governments, of course, continue to play a major role. They have critical levers for change at their disposal,” Mr Bainimarama said.