It’s up to Kevin Rudd now: crunch time in Copenhagen as world leaders meet for final days

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 17 Dec 2009

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd must seize the opportunity for unprecedented global cooperation and push for a fair, safe and binding climate agreement in Copenhagen, Oxfam Australia said today.

As the crucial talks head into the two final days, Oxfam Australia climate change spokeswoman Kelly Dent said to get a deal, Australia and other rich countries must stop dragging their feet on promises to make deep emissions cuts and provide climate finance for poor countries to adapt to the escalating impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions.

“Like builders trying to construct a house before fixing the foundations, negotiators have spent two years attempting to piece together a deal without seriously tackling the big issues,” Ms Dent said.

“The Prime Minister and other Heads of State now need to make the decisions they have shied away from for over two years.  They must deliver a deal which guarantees sharp emissions reductions and at least US $200bn per year in new money to help poor countries tackle climate change.

“A deal can be done. It is in no-one’s interests to leave Copenhagen with a set of empty promises, least of all the politicians who will try to claim success. The buck stops here.”

She said some countries had attempted to rekindle trust.  For example, China had clearly indicated it did not require financial support to achieve its carbon intensity target.  Yesterday, France and Africa advocated innovative sources of climate finance, such as a tax on shipping and aviation fuels.  Some of the key gaps in negotiations include:

  • The scale of emissions reductions for rich countries is creeping up towards 25 per cent, however the proposals are riddled with loopholes and hot air. A real reduction of 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 is needed;
  • The starter funding offers of around US $10 billion per year until 2013 are a fraction of the most credible estimates of what is needed to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions. A rapid scale-up of funding to US $200 billion per year by 2020 is the political decision that is needed.  As a high per capita emitter, Australia’s fair share is US $3.5 billion, rising to US $4.6 billion.  This needs to be additional to existing aid commitments.
  • Weaker systems of review and verification have been proposed but they do not provide the assurances that are needed. A strong system of compliance within a legally binding treaty structure is the political decision that is needed.

“Small island states, led by Tuvalu, came to Copenhagen demanding to be heard.  They are quite simply asserting their right to exist,” Ms Dent said.  “Will world leaders ensure a fair, safe and binding deal, or are they effectively wiping the small island states off the globe?

“Last weekend, people all over the world took to the streets with one simple message to world leaders in Copenhagen:  Lead or Go Home.”

To interview Kelly Dent, please contact Laurelle Keough: 0409 960 100; (in Australia) or Laura Rusu: + 1 202 459 3739 (US mobile); (in Copenhagen)