Oxfam urges Senator Wong to press United States to commit to mandatory carbon cuts

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 30 Jan 2008

Oxfam has urged Australia’s Minister for Climate Change to press the United States and 16 other nations attending a climate change conference in Honolulu to commit to mandatory emissions cuts as well as substantial new funding to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The call comes as the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong attends this week’s meeting of the world’s biggest carbon emitters in Hawaii. This will be Senator Wong’s second time playing a leading role shaping global climate change policy on the world stage, and follows her attendance at the Bali Climate Change Summit last December when Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
‘This week’s meeting in Hawaii must not distract from the successes achieved at last month’s UN climate change conference in Bali and the main show of global agreement on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol,’ said Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director, Andrew Hewett. ‘But there is a role for Senator Wong in Hawaii and that’s to urge the world’s biggest carbon emitters to commit to mandatory cuts in emissions.’
Oxfam also expressed concern that more than 170 UN members have not been invited to Hawaii, specifically poor countries most at risk of climate change.
‘The challenge of climate change is global and needs a global solution, not one concocted only by those countries most responsible for causing the problem,’ said Mr Hewett. ‘The UN process aims to build an international consensus for a new international climate agreement. In contrast, many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable nations have not been invited to participate in, or even to observe, the Hawaii meetings.’
Oxfam believes the UN is ultimately the only legitimate international forum where all countries must agree ambitious targets and funding to address climate change. At best, the talks in Hawaii can contribute to that. Oxfam Australia however is encouraged by Senator Wong’s recent comments that the meeting in Hawaii should, ‘make an important contribution to the United Nations climate change negotiations.’
Meanwhile Oxfam welcomed statements and commitments by President Bush to fund adaptation and clean energy efforts in poor countries, but said they needed to be supported by action. Oxfam estimates that adapting to climate change in all developing countries is likely to cost at least $50bn each year.
‘Dollars for clean energy and adaptation in developing countries need to be additional to current aid flows,’ said Mr Hewett. ‘Most importantly, such funds must be tied to international commitments and coupled with mandatory emission cuts. Should the world fail to act in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the costs and the consequences will only get worse.’
Human-induced climate change already threatens many of the world’s poor, who are the least responsible for it and are least able to adapt. For this reason, rich countries must lead the way and commit to cutting their emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 in order to keep global warming below 2°C. Global emissions cuts must be well below 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.
‘As one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, and the host of this meeting, the United States has a responsibility to address the increasingly severe impacts of climate change on developing countries, both by leading the effort to reduce global warming emissions through mandatory international targets and by helping to finance assistance to the most vulnerable communities to adapt to climate impacts,’ said Mr Hewett.
For more information call Ian Woolverton on 0409 181 454