Nukunonu Atoll in the South Pacific, an area vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Image: UN/Ariane Rummery.

The University of Melbourne has launched fully-funded climate-action scholarships for students from Pacific Island nations to support their local communities in addressing climate change.

The Melbourne Climate Action Scholarship recognises the disproportionate effects of climate change on Small Island Developing States, many of which are in the Pacific.

The Pacific Islands have played a central role in increasing the ambition of the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with Fiji being the first state to sign up to the Paris agreement. However, most carbon mitigation efforts in the Pacific have concentrated on reducing fossil use in electricity generation. The transportation sector, which consumes most of the fossil fuel in the region, is playing a catch-up game.

The Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami in the Kingdom of Tonga on 15 January 2022 is yet another serious reminder of the increasingly urgent need to look at energy security and resilience as part of the same challenge.  Our ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions will be fundamental for the region if it is to withstand and recover rapidly from future disruptions. 

Reviewing my master’s research about the potential of solar energy in the Kingdom of Tonga, hosted by PCREEE in 2019.

Before I came to the “Kingdom of Tonga”, the only thing I knew about this magical sounding Island Nation was that it is located somewhere in the South Pacific. Far away from Vienna in Austria, the centre of my life at that time. I was studying “Natural Ressources Management and Ecological Engineering” and as a part of my master, I was about to attend an exchange programme at Lincoln University in New Zealand in 2019.

Papua New Guinea is known as the land of the unexpected and while there are often surprises, its natural beauty and richness in natural resources are well known to everyone. Despite the natural resources, PNG is facing the challenge of providing access to electricity to its rural population.

PNG has about 200 MW of installed hydropower capacity and there is a huge hydro power potential, currently estimated at 15,000 MW, which if developed, could significantly boost PNG’s energy production potential.


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