Australia

Australia pledges $500 million to tackle Pacific climate change

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The federal government will steer $500 million of existing aid towards the Pacific islands to help the region cope with climate change.

The Morrison government will funnel $500 million of aid funding to the Pacific islands to help countries invest in renewable energy and disaster resilience as they tackle climate change.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the money - from Australia's existing aid funds and over five years starting next year - as he prepares to visit Tuvalu for the Pacific Islands Forum on Wednesday.

The forum focuses on the survival of the small Pacific nations bearing the brunt of climate change, with the federal government saying the aid money will help protect the region's security and livelihoods.

"The Pacific is our home, which we share as a family of nations," Mr Morrison said.

"We're here to work with our Pacific partners to confront the potential challenges they face in the years ahead."

Children sitting submerged in the sea around their island home in a symbolic welcome to Pacific Leaders arriving at the Pacific Islands Forum 2019.
Children sitting submerged in the sea around their island home in a symbolic welcome to Pacific Leaders arriving at the Pacific Islands Forum 2019.
Twitter @ForumSEC

The $500 million builds on $300 million of federal money already committed, which is set to end next year.

The region has so far used the money for projects such as extreme-weather proofing bridges and roads in Papua New Guinea, climate resilient schools in Kiribati and a hydropower project in Honiara.

New projects to further build the Pacific's resilience include renewable energy, stronger infrastructure and adaptive health services.

The new funding is part of a climate change and oceans package the prime minister will outline in Tuvalu.

It also includes a new climate infrastructure section of the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific to assist with energy ambitions.

It will allow for new bilateral climate change discussions with Pacific nations.

Australia is in the hot seat at the forum as the Pacific nations are unhappy with its approach to reaching the emissions reduction target set by the Paris agreement, particularly through the use of credits from previous goals.

Despite local emissions increasing in recent years, Mr Morrison insists Australia is doing its part to cut global levels.

Australia also has the highest per capita investment in clean energy in the world, with the nation on track to have 25 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2020, he added.

"Our commitments to support the Pacific highlight the meaningful action we're taking to live up to our role as signatories to the Boe Declaration 2018, which outlines the threat climate change poses to the Pacific."

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