Is Scott Morrison handing out half a billion dollars in “go-away” money? Or buying Pacific loyalty?

Of course, it would impolite to tell the blunt truth these days. Instead, it’s being diplomatically described as “climate change funding”.

Scott Morrison will announce $500 million in climate change ­funding when he meets regional leaders in Tuvalu this week, in a bid to rescue his Pacific “step-up” from mounting anger over Australia’s domestic emissions policies.

The funding will be used to protect communities and infrastructure from rising seas and wor­sening storms, help nations ­recover after natural disasters and ensure local health services are better equipped to respond to changing needs.

Of course, it definitely won’t be used to buy any fleets of luxury cars for elites flying in for regional junkets.

The Prime Minister, who ­arrives in Tuvalu tomorrow for the Pacific Islands Forum, is facing a growing backlash from Pacific ­nations over emissions, with Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama yesterday branding climate change an “existential threat” to island nations and urging a rapid end to Australia’s reliance on coal.

His comments followed those of Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga on Sunday, who warned Mr Morrison’s standing among Pacific leaders was on the line over the climate change issue. But Mr Morrison said Australia was working to address its own emissions and would work with Pacific nations to help them cope with the impacts of global warming.

Australia’s emissions are nine-tenths of sod-all. We could completely cease all emissions tomorrow and it won’t make a jot of difference to the global climate, let alone sea levels. If Pacific nations were really worried about such things, they should be bullying China, India and the US. But they know perfectly well what the answer from the really big emitters will be. Far easier to morally blackmail Australia.

After all, it’s not like we’re not already throwing away money, hand over fist, on delusional green scams.

“The fact Australia leads the world in per capita investment in clean energy, we have the world’s most successful green bank in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and that we’re on track to have around a quarter of our electricity needs met by renewables by 2020, all underscores the work underway to reduce our global emissions.”

But, more than anything, this is really about the realities of geopolitics rather than catastrophist fantasies about climate change.

The Pacific “step-up” is one of the Prime Minister’s key priorities amid rising Chinese influence in the region and calls from the US for Australia to play a “great power leadership role” in its strategic backyard.

In other words, Australia is trying to buy Pacific nations’ loyalties before the Chinese do. While it’s a sensible strategy for Australia, it’s also a nice little earner for the Pacific: all they have to do is sit back and watch the big guys throw money at them.