Even though he’ll be in the United States this month to pal around with the Trump administration, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will skip out on the upcoming UN climate change summit in New York City, The Guardian reports.
Instead, the international conference will be attended by Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Australian ambassador for the environment Patrick Suckling – the latter of whom appeared on a pro-coal panel last year.
The Guardian reports Morrison will not speak at the September 23 event because the UN only plans to hear from leaders of nations which have affirmed new emission reduction goals or funding for the UN’s own climate action fund.
Australia plans to do neither right now, with Morrison’s office confirming to the outlet the government is committed to previously-announced targets and plans to independently hurl $500 million at Pacific nations for local climate change mitigation measures.
A quick reminder: the recent Pacific Islands Forum, which largely focussed on rising sea levels and other existential threats to our oceanic neighbours, was not a blue ribbon moment for the PM.
So, the optics of the upcoming US state visit are interesting, to say the least. As Queensland and NSW are ravaged by bushfires which experts have linked to climate change, Morrison is instead gearing up to liaise with a White House in chaos.
The UN climate summit, attended by none other than teen activist and international figurehead Greta Thunberg, is intended as a kick up the arse of nations who signed up to the Paris Agreement. Whether that boot hits Australia is another thing entirely.