Delay on climate agreement will cost lives

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 06 Nov 2009

Hundreds of thousands of poor people will continue to pay with their lives if rich countries continue their delay tactics on reaching a global climate deal in Copenhagen, Oxfam Australia said today.

 As the UN climate negotiations in Barcelona come to a close today, Oxfam Australia’s climate change spokeswoman Kelly Dent said:  “The world’s poorest countries are already struggling to survive in a changing climate and need action, not more hollow promises.”

 Responding to announcements by the EU, Britain, the US, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that hopes are fading for a legally binding climate deal in Copenhagen, Ms Dent called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as a Friend of the Chair to use his leadership role to push for a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen.

 “What is needed now is bold action, not a lowering of expectations,” Ms Dent said.  “There are grave fears that a political agreement won’t deliver a fair, safe and binding deal.  And that is precisely what we need to avoid catastrophic climate change.

 “Today feels like Groundhog Day. We have been here before.  Two years ago, rich nations promised to deliver a legally binding climate deal in Copenhagen.  Now these same countries have admitted to back-peddling in order to accommodate the US, a country which is now playing down any chance of a climate deal in Denmark.”

 She said Kevin Rudd needs to demonstrate his commitment to his leadership role – as he has said he would do.  This means pledging to attend the Copenhagen Summit – as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had done – and recognising the science by committing to binding targets of 40 per cent. 

 “The EU says it can agree emission reduction targets in Copenhagen, and Australia must do the same,” Ms Dent said.

 “The world’s poorest nations are facing with an impossible choice – no climate deal or a bad climate deal. Both options threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

 She said Australia could move negotiations forward by showing its hand on what finance it would contribute to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce emissions.

 “This finance must be additional to existing aid commitments otherwise decades of development gains will be reversed,” she said.

 A levy on international shipping and aviation emissions and a percentage of revenue from the government’s proposed emissions trading scheme are two ways in which climate finance could be raised.

 Please contact Laurelle Keough (0409 960 100, for more information or to interview Kelly Dent.