New PM Albo in Quad meeting today: What's on agenda

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Highlights

  • PM Anthony Albanese is attending the Quad summit in Tokyo just days after his party won the election.
  • All four member nations of the Quad are meeting to discuss their concerns regarding China.
  • Australian PM would be cementing the country’s image as a country that cares about environmental issues.

Taking on his duties quickly after taking the oath, new PM Anthony Albanese are attending the Quad summit in Tokyo just days after his party won the election. The Labor leader is on his way to announce to the world that Australia is ready to act on climate change.

The Prime Minister has been joined by Foreign Minister Penny Wong in the Tokyo meeting. The summit also includes leaders from the US, Japan and India and is considered an absolute priority by the new PM. After the previous party’s lacklustre policies in the environment, the new Prime Minister is on track to change how the world views Australia’s stance on climate change.

PM Albanese seems to have a more ambitious approach toward climate change policies than his forerunner Scott Morrison. Both leaders have a striking difference in their takes on climate change and related policies. PM Albanese’s stricter approach toward climate change has resonated with the voting population, ultimately landing him a win in the federal elections. The newly appointed leader wants to establish this vigorous approach to the rest of the world as well and clarify that Australia is ready for change.

What is the Quad?

Officially known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad is essentially a group of four countries which work together on tackling issues such as security, economy and health issues. The group has been loosely associated over the past few years, as the four nations have intermittently gone off track from the Quad’s commitments.

The Quad meeting in 2022 is especially significant as all four nations are meeting to discuss their concerns regarding China. All four nations have aligned interests in acting upon China’s increasingly assertive behaviour, leaving less room for negotiation. Australia especially has been at odds with China over the past many months, when the Asian superpower decided to introduce sanctions on Australian exports.

While the previous Prime Minister believed in responding to such actions with hostility, the new PM wants to re-establish talks with China. China is a key importing market for Australian goods and thus, holds a special place among Australian policymakers. Under Scott Morrison’s tenure, Australia’s priority was developing an alternative market away from China. However, this may change as Anthony Albanese comes into power.  

RELATED READ: How will a new government impact Australia-China relations?

Putting the climate first

Apart from Australia’s vested interest in taking action against China, the priority for the country is developing a strong global image as a country that deeply cares about environmental issues. The country’s issues related to climate change are more severe than most other nations.

Australia is a coal exporter and for long has garnered an image of being not proactive in its climate change approach. Previous PM Scott Morrison had advocated for higher coal exports despite the many environmental issues attached to it. Despite heavy criticism attached to this, there was no major action taken to switch to renewable sources of energy.

Albanese’s drastic change in approach has been welcomed by his Pacific neighbours as well, who have long been threatened by the rising sea levels. All Pacific countries depend on each other to reverse the many adversities attached to climate change.

ALSO READ: Federal elections: Scott Morrison concedes defeat, to stand down as Liberal party leader

A difficult relationship with China

From a political perspective, the Quad was also a necessity considering the signing of the recent security pact between Beijing and the Solomon Islands. US President Joe Biden has stated that he would intervene if China were to invade Taiwan.

The fears surrounding an invasion have become more pronounced after Russia’s radical stance is seen in Ukraine. These concerns could also bring forth major pacts being signed between Asian countries and the US, forming a stronger Indo-Pacific ally.

For Albanese, the Australian representative at the Quad, these political concerns appear secondary in his agenda. Australia’s national interests come first and should be addressed with utmost priority. The Quad is the PM’s biggest platform to announce a change in the country’s action plan on climate change. It can lay a new foundation for Australia and pave the way for a better policy outlook.

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