Biden and Kishida discussed clean energy in a meeting in Tokyo on Monday and jointly pledged to cut emissions to net zero levels by 2050 but also align their goals for 2030 in order to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.
The US-Japan Climate Partnership includes a commitment to ensure no new direct government support for coal-fired power generation that does not include abatement for carbon emissions. It puts a heavy emphasis on joint work on new technologies such as energy storage, renewable energy, hydrogen and batteries – all areas the incoming Labor government wants to encourage.
The Quad summit will begin with the formal gathering of the four leaders in Tokyo for a morning session, followed by a lunch and a series of bilateral talks in the afternoon.
Albanese spoke to UK counterpart Boris Johnson while flying to Tokyo on Monday. A spokesman described the conversation as friendly and positive.
The discussion with Johnson included a commitment from Albanese to support the AUKUS alliance on nuclear submarines and talks on climate change.
Albanese will also look to assure Japan, India and the United States that Labor is serious about the Quad grouping, to eliminate any doubt that the quasi-alliance is here to stay.
China has claimed the Quad is “dangerous” and likened it to NATO’s eastward expansion in Europe.
The first iteration of the Quad was scrapped when Labor was last in government, and it wasn’t rebooted until recent years under the Coalition amid China’s growing influence and assertiveness in the region.
Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, said the Quad meeting was excellent timing for the new government to hit the ground running on foreign policy and national security.
He said there were more similarities between Albanese and Biden on issues such as climate policy, which would help to forge a close relationship.
“Both governments will take a progressive approach to broaden the strategic competition with China to include development, climate policy and engagement with South-East Asia,” Medcalf said.
But it was equally important to demonstrate to India and Japan that a Labor government was “strategically rational”, he said.
“The Albanese government is clearly completely on board with the Quad so this is clearly an opportunity to dispel any misperceptions in Delhi or Tokyo that the Quad is somehow ideological or personality-driven.”
Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong are being accompanied on the trip to Tokyo by senior officials from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Office of National Intelligence.
Albanese and Wong will also look to visit Pacific island nations in the coming months after the signing of a controversial security pact between China and Solomon Islands, which Australia fears could lead to Beijing establishing a permanent military presence 1600 kilometres from Cairns.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the Solomons within days to sign the security pact. Wang is also expected to visit other Pacific countries including Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
In a video sent out to Pacific nations on Monday afternoon, Wong said she looked forward to visiting the Pacific soon and her appointment as foreign minister comes at a “time when our region faces unprecedented challenges.
“But we will face these challenges together,” she said. “We want to help build a stronger Pacific family. That is why we will do more. But we will also do it better. We will listen, because we care what the Pacific has to say.”
Wong said the new Australian government “knows that nothing is more central to the security and wellbeing of the Pacific than climate change”.
“We have heard the Pacific and we will act – standing shoulder to shoulder with the Pacific as we address the climate crisis,” she said.
“We will also boost Australian assistance to support the region’s pandemic recovery and deepen our defence and maritime co-operation.
“And we will work with the Pacific family to expand opportunities for Pacific workers in Australia, and improve their working conditions.”
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