Former President of Kiribati Anote Tong, arrives in Australia on Saturday this week for a national speaking tour, focus on the critical need to stop fossil fuel expansion due to its acceleration of the impacts of the climate crisis in the Pacific.

Tong is speaking at public events across Australia in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra as a guest of the Australia Institute as part of its 30th anniversary in 2024.

With the climate crisis intensifying and Australia’s bid to host the 2026 UN climate summit in partnership with Pacific nations looming, Australia Institute research shows that how the nation responds to these challenges has the potential to shape the future and influence the trajectory of global climate policy.

“Expansion of the fossil fuel industry in Australia directly impacts communities in the Pacific, and we are already experiencing the effects. Australia needs to work with the Pacific Islands to get serious about combatting climate change, and that means halting new coal and gas projects,” said Anote Tong, former President of Kiribati.

“Australia’s attempt to play a double game, where it acknowledges the existential crisis of climate change for the Pacific on the one hand while continuing to approve new coal, oil and gas developments on the other, has not gone unnoticed in the Pacific region.

“The Pacific Islands are on the front line of the impacts of climate change. No one is better placed to show us the effects of an unmitigated fossil fuel industry. If we can’t heed this warning from firsthand witnesses, then we are entirely complicit in what comes next,” Tong said.

“The Australia Institute is delighted to host Anote Tong, a formidable and tireless advocate in the fight for a fossil fuel free future. We are thrilled Tong accepted the Australia Institute’s invitation to help mark our 30 years of big ideas,” said Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the Australia Institute.

Anote Tong is the former President of Kiribati, where he held office from 2003 to 2016. He is a decorated climate advocate, current chair of the Pacific Elders Voice (PEV) group and a former Board Member and Distinguished Fellow of Conservation International. He has been awarded the SunHak Peace Prize and has been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He currently holds the Edmund Hilary Award and the Peter Benchley Ocean Award, as well as others, for his work on climate change and ocean conservation.

The Australia Institute is inviting some of the world’s leading thinkers to Australia in 2024 to mark its 30th anniversary and celebrate 30 years of big ideas.

“We are delighted to host Anote Tong as part of these celebrations” the Institute said.