A small group of countries is driving new oil and gas expansion, and if allowed to proceed, would lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future, a new report by Oil Change International reveals.

Twenty countries have been exposed as being responsible for nearly 90 percent of carbon dioxide pollution threatened by new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050 with Australia making an appearance in the report’s top five planet wrecker category.

The report finds that Australia is poised to be the world’s eighth largest expander of oil and gas extraction from 2023 to 2050 and ranks Australia as the world’s third largest exporter of fossil fuel pollution. This, despite the report identifying Australia as one of five other countries (including the United States, Canada, Norway and the United Kingdom) as being wealthy and economically diversified, with a low level of dependence on oil and gas revenues and, therefore, a high capacity to manage a fast transition away from oil and gas.

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) Regional Coordinator, Lavetanalagi Seru says,”Australia’s treachery is once again laid bare for all to see. This report cuts through the supposed change in rhetoric on climate by the Albanese Government and exposes Australia for what it truly is: a captive of the fossil fuel industry shackled to its insidious agenda.

It’s unfathomable that the Australian government continues to stoke the flames of the climate crisis, despite the brutal scars of unprecedented bushfires and floods etched into its landscape, and with full knowledge of the profound impacts that the fossil fuel industry inflicts upon First Nations communities and the Pacific.

With the window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C rapidly closing, a global fossil fuel phase-out that is fast, fair and funded must be our paramount priority. Pacific Leaders must strongly insist on Australia to course correct before lending its support to the COP31 bid.”

350.org Pacific Managing Director, Joseph Sikulu says, “As a Tongan that currently resides on Dharug Country, I am disappointed in Australian’s insistence on fossil fuel expansion. It is short-sighted and inconsistent with their portrayed “big brother” role to the Pacific. Countless indigenous communities across Australia have resisted these fossil fuel projects, battling displacement, health implications and threats to water security. Similarly, Pacific Islanders continue to fight for the right to survive, free from the claws of the climate crisis. This report clearly states that Australia and other top polluters must, not only end coal, oil and gas expansion, but also ramp up energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions globally.

Analysis shows it is possible to replace fossil fuels with better alternatives, increasing ethical renewable energy to 1.5 terawatt per year, while curbing energy consumption. To ensure our people aren’t left behind in this transition, nations like Australia must commit to a phase out as well as deploying climate finance to help their Pacific “vuvale” with renewable energy transitions of their own. These are our demands of a potential partner for an “Australia-Pacific COP31.