Australia’s Fast Start Finance commitments must not come from aid budget warns Oxfam

Media Releases article written on the 10 Dec 2010

Cancun, Mexico – Oxfam Australia today welcomed Australia’s commitment to the Fast Start Finance Fund as an important step towards helping developing countries adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change but said climate finance should not come out of the existing international aid budget.

Oxfam Australia Climate Change Policy Adviser Kelly Dent, who is in Cancun to follow the UN Climate Negotiations commended the allocation of more than 50 per cent of fast start finance to adaptation for poor countries, 25 per cent of which will go to small island developing states.

However Ms Dent said the fact that Australia’s pledges to the Fast Start Finance Fund have come from existing aid commitments overlooks that climate change is an additional burden on the world’s poor.

“The Australian government must find its contributions to climate finance without dipping into existing foreign aid budgets as every dollar diverted from the aid program is one dollar less for vital health, education, water and sanitation projects that save lives and help people out of poverty.

At the tail end of the Cancun negotiations, Ms Dent said progress toward a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal on climate change was possible and that Australia had a key role to play.

“As co-facilitator on finance in the negotiations, Mr Combet should use his influence to ensure a fair climate fund, for long term finance and under the UN is operational by the end of 2011,”

“These funds are the absolute minimum that developing countries need to adapt to the climate changes that are already hitting them hard and they should not be held hostage to
other aspects of the negotiations,”

“While there are major challenges, with focused attention on the continuation of the Kyoto protocol and the establishment of a fair global climate fund, we can make Cancun a success,” Ms Dent said.

The Fast Start Finance Fund was established following agreements at last year’s UN Copenhagen Negotiations to see a new and additional $US 30 billion dollars spent for the period of 2010 – 2012 to help developing countries adapt to climate change and develop on a low carbon pathway. Countries agreed to scale contributions up from 2012 to reach $US 100 billion per annum by 2020.

Based on Australia’s relative global emissions, Oxfam Australia calculates Australia’s fair share of the US$30 billion as US$690 million.

Kelly Dent is following the United Nations Conference in Cancun and available for interview.

For interviews or more information, please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on +61 407 555 960.