Emissions Trading Scheme disagreement must not limit Australia’s role at crucial talks

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 01 Jun 2009

Australia must not let the divergence of opinion over its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) interfere with its role in helping accelerate global action on climate change when countries meet today (Monday 1 June) for the next round of UN climate talks, in Bonn.
Oxfam Australia climate change spokeswoman Julie-Anne Richards, who is in Bonn for the talks, said bipartisan support for the Government’s 25 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020 could help move the crucial negotiations forward.
“All political parties have acknowledged it’s in Australia’s best interests to get a robust global climate deal to keep warming as low as possible. Now it’s up to Australia’s negotiating team at Bonn to aggressively pursue a strong and fair deal,” Ms Richards said.
“As a high-polluting, wealthy country, Australia must also commit to financial support to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions, as this will ultimately benefit us all.”
Ms Richards said this finance could come from a portion of ETS revenue. “Currently the ETS is deeply flawed as it proposes directing funding support to the big polluters and not to those in developing countries who are being affected by their inaction,” Ms Richards said.
This week’s meeting in Bonn is one of the key negotiations leading to the final UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in December, where the world must agree a new global climate deal. For the first time, negotiators in Bonn will debate the draft negotiating text of a new agreement.
“As the developed country most at risk from climate change, Australia stands to gain the most from a strong global agreement,” Ms Richards said. “We are well placed to show leadership at these talks – Australians know what climate change looks like and we support our government taking strong action.”
Oxfam is deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change on the world’s poorest people, estimating that, by 2015, an average of 375 million could be affected by climate-related disasters each year – nearly all of them in the developing world. The UN calculates developing countries will need around $130 billion a year to fund emissions reductions; Oxfam estimates they will need a further $64bn to adapt to changes in climate.
Ms Richards said a lack of commitment to deliver this finance would be a deal-breaker for developing countries, derailing any chance of securing a global deal at Copenhagen.
A meeting of the Major Economies Forum in Paris on 25 and 26 May, which Climate Change Minister Senator Penny Wong attended, backed a Mexican proposal on finance for adaptation and mitigation action in developing countries. The proposal would require all countries to contribute to a global fund based on their past and current emissions of greenhouse gases and the size of their economy.
"We have a finite amount of time to secure a climate deal that will prevent a human catastrophe. Now that a draft deal is on the table, countries must stop skirting around the big issues and get these talks moving,” Ms Richards said.
To interview Julie-Anne Richards, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100, laurellek@oxfam.org.au