Australia must stay committed to an international climate solution

Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, Media Releases, News article written on the 11 Nov 2013

The latest round of UN climate change negotiations now under way in Warsaw will be the first big test of the new government’s international credibility on climate change, Oxfam Australia said today.

Oxfam is urging the Australian Government to work constructively towards a new global deal to reduce emissions and increase its support to poor countries struggling with climate change impacts.

The negotiations, which continue until 22 November, aim to make progress towards a new global climate deal, to be finalised in 2015 and enter into force in 2020.  The new deal will replace the existing Kyoto Protocol.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw, in Warsaw, said all eyes would be on Australia to show it was serious about tackling climate change and reaffirm its commitment to an emissions reduction target of up to 25 per cent by 2020.

“Australia, along with all developed countries, will also be under pressure to fulfil its existing promises of support to poorer countries in adapting to an increasingly hostile climate, as well as demonstrate it has a credible plan for transitioning its own economy to clean energy,” Dr Bradshaw said.

He said poor countries were being left with little idea about what money was available to help them cope with climate change because of murky accounting and a lack of transparency by rich countries.

Oxfam has looked at how much money the biggest climate finance contributors have committed between 2013 and 2015 since the end of the Fast Start Finance period (between 2010-2012 whereby rich countries pledged more than US $30bn).  Climate finance is an important issue on the agenda of the current climate change negotiations.

Oxfam estimates that so far, developed countries have confirmed around US $16.3bn in climate finance for 2013, though the actual net budget allocations may be closer to US $7.6bn, as some countries have counted loans that will be repaid to them.  Only US $8.3bn of this amount has been formally announced at the UN climate change negotiations, and many question marks over the figures remain.

Dr Bradshaw said US $7.6bn to $16.3bn was well below even the lowest estimate of what it was going to cost developing countries to adapt to climate change, which ranged from US $27bn to well over US $100bn.  By comparison, developed countries spent US $55-90 billion a year during 2005 -2011 on fossil fuel subsidies; the Netherlands is spending €1 billion to protect its low-lands from flooding; and Australia will spend US $12bn till 2018 on adapting to domestic water stress.

He said wealthy countries needed to be upfront with poor countries about how much money was on the table now and into the future to help those poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.

“The rich are protecting their own back-yards while continuing to invest heavily in polluting energies which are fuelling climate change,” he said.  “Investment now to reduce emissions and support poor communities to adapt to a changing climate will reduce the likelihood of future catastrophes, support economic development, and protect decades of progress in reducing poverty.”

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