The Australian Greens leader has written to Pacific island elders urging them to reject a bid to co-host a major environmental summit unless the government stops opening new coal and gas projects.

Adam Bandt told Pacific leaders they should use their leverage over Australia – which is pushing for a refresh of relations with the region – to force it to end fossil fuel subsidies and adopt stronger emissions reduction targets.

“This letter is not to add to the list of voices attempting to influence the Pacific but a genuine offer of any support that will assist in maintaining your leverage and momentum for a fossil fuel-free Pacific,” Bandt wrote, outlining a list of new projects opened since Labor came to power.

He said Pacific island nations held “geo-strategic leverage” over Australia and the push from Canberra to co-host the COP31 summit in 2026 in conjunction with Pacific island nations further increased their power.

“You will rightly act in your own nations’ interests, but I want to inform you that any external pressure will also assist the significant domestic push to stop the Labor government from dangerously opening new coal and gas projects,” the letter says.

“The hosting of an Australia-Pacific COP in Australia must be accompanied by real action on climate and not be an exercise in state-sponsored greenwashing.”

Australia is also facing some pushback against its hosting plan from a group of ex-Pacific leaders and elders critical of Canberra for continuing to support fossil fuel projects despite pledging to address climate change.

The Pacific Elders’ Voice campaigned against the bid in Fiji at the same time Australian Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen visited.

They have also asked the Australian government to start a fund to repair the damage Pacific nations suffer from climate change.

Pacific island nations have consistently called for stronger action on climate change as they face the brunt of rising tides and increased natural disasters.

Bandt also used a speech at a climate event in Melbourne to call for “non-violent civil disobedience” to put pressure on the government to stop new fossil fuel projects.

“We must come together and fight back,” he said.

The Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting, which includes Australia, will be held in the Cook Islands in November.