14 December 2021
This article, by the convenor of Diplomats for Climate Action Now, was published in the Canberra Times today. Richard Mathews explains that our group of former diplomats are concerned that Australia's low level of ambition on climate change is becoming an obstacle in how we pursue our interests around the world. Once Australia was seen as a leading activist nation in world affairs, a model global citizen in areas as diverse as the Law of the Sea and depletion of the ozone layer. Now the world sees us as a "climate laggard".
Richard refers to our paper, "A climate-focused Foreign Policy for Australia" , where we argue for strong pro-climate policies. We argue that Australia has a choice: decisive domestic action on climate change – as advised by the best scientific and business minds - that will help to mitigate the climate-induced natural disasters that our people and environment are already suffering. It will open significant economic and employment opportunities for Australians to provide the world with low-carbon commodity and manufactured exports as our major international markets increasingly demand. It will secure our reputation as a forward-leaning, reliable international partner with our major allies as well as our neighbours throughout the Indo-Pacific. It will give us the international credibility to push other major emitters to take more ambitious action. We urge all parties to look optimistically to a future where Australia becomes a major supporter for our regional partners as they decarbonise their economies; and we look to Australia becoming a significant renewable energy exporter and provider of environmental and energy services.