Oxfam welcomed the Australian Government’s call for international aviation and shipping emissions to be part of an international climate deal yesterday (11 June), but warned that poor small island states, which depend on air and sea links, should be exempt from the schemes.
Australia’s announcement on the penultimate day of the UN climate talks in Bonn called for regulation of aviation and shipping emissions ‘without discrimination’ between countries but made no reference to the impact this might have on our small island neighbours.
Oxfam Australia’s Climate Policy Advisor Julie-Anne Richards said Pacific nations such as Vanuatu and Fiji depended heavily on air and sea links, while emitting only a minuscule fraction of the emissions of Australia. Fiji emits just 3.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person compared to 26.5 tonnes per person in Australia.
Ms Richards said it was good that Australia acknowledged international shipping and aviation as a major and rapidly-growing source of emissions but a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to climate change was not appropriate.
“Poor islands such as Fiji, set to experience worse storms, cyclones, floods and disease if global warming continues at the present rate, should not be treated in the same way as wealthy, polluting countries such as Australia,” Ms Richards said.
“Shipping and aviation links are a lifeline for small island states. They must be exempt from schemes that will place undue costs on their importation of basic foodstuffs, and increase costs to the tourism industry which provides vital income for provision of health, education and other essential services.”
The UN climate talks in Bonn, where Australia’s announcement was made, is one of the key negotiations in the lead-up to the meeting in Copenhagen in December, where the world must agree a new global climate deal to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“Australia is right to wrest this problem out of the hands of the international civil aviation and maritime organisations – who have sat on this problem for years – and get it dealt with as part of UN talks on a global climate deal,” Ms Richards said.
She said the International Civil Aviation and Maritime Organisations were given responsibility to find a way of regulating emissions from international shipping and aviation under the Kyoto Protocol, however had made little progress in the 12 years since the Protocol was adopted.
Developing countries, including Tanzania and the Pacific nation of Tuvalu, responded to Australia’s proposal by calling for any revenue raised to be directed to them and other developing countries to help then adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“Developed countries, which created the climate crisis, have a responsibility to use the money raised from the regulation of aviation and shipping emissions to help the world’s poorest countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change,” Ms Richards said.
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