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Speirs pushes for Adelaide COP conference

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UPDATED: State Opposition leader David Speirs has written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to “seriously consider” Adelaide as a host city for a future United Nations climate change conference.

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged before the May federal election that a Labor government would bid for Australia to host a United Nations Conference of the Parties summit as part of its attempt to repair the nation’s international reputation on climate action.

The annual Conference of the Parties, known as COP, has been running for almost 30 years and sets the global agenda on climate change.

Federal Labor wants Australia to host the summit in partnership with Pacific Island countries, which face growing threats from global warming and whose leaders have been vocal critics of Australia’s stance on climate action in the past.

In a letter sent to Albanese on Thursday – seen by InDaily – Speirs wrote he was “pleased” to hear about Labor’s commitment and urged him to put Adelaide forward as a potential host city when it makes its bid.

“I believe that Adelaide would be a perfect city to host a future COP,” Speirs wrote.

“Our city and state presents an excellent opportunity to showcase our leadership in renewable energy generation and attract international business interest by communicating strong, practical commitments to clean, low emissions business growth and climate resilience.

“Hosting a COP would also present a unique opportunity to showcase to the world South Australia’s high levels of liveability, something that has become more pronounced than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In fact, Adelaide was recently crowned Australia’s first National Park City – the second city in the world ever to receive such an honour.”

Speirs – who served as Environment Minister under the Marshall Government and who retained the portfolio in opposition – went on to state Albanese could be “assured of the State Opposition’s bipartisan support with every effort to make this a reality”.

He wrote that the SA Liberals and Labor “shared much common ground on the issue of addressing climate change”.

“I do not believe in opposition for opposition’s sake and addressing climate change is far too important to be playing politics with,” he wrote.

“I hope you will seriously consider Adelaide as the host city for a future COP and you will be assured of the State Opposition’s bipartisan support with every effort to make this a reality.”

Federal Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said in May that hosting a COP summit would “send the message to the world that Australia is under new management when it comes to climate, but also to sell Australia’s economic opportunities as a renewable energy powerhouse”.

He said a “key part” of Australia’s bid would be to host a COP summit in partnership with other Pacific Island nations, should they choose to participate.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said his government was “actively interested” in having Adelaide host a COP conference.

“I welcome the bipartisan support for that being offered by David Speirs and will actively be turning our mind to such things in due course,” he said.

The most recent COP summit was held in Glasgow last year, when then-prime minister Scott Morrison announced Australia’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Albanese Government wants to reduce Australia’s emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, which it says would keep the nation on track for net zero by 2050.

The next session of the COP will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

Labor has not put a timeline on when it would like Australia to host a COP summit, previously saying it would be subject to discussions with other countries.

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