Australia must be a lifter, not a leaner, in Lima: Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, Media Releases, News article written on the 09 Dec 2014

Australia must step up to play a positive role at the UN Climate Change Negotiations in Lima, or risk falling further behind the rest of the world on climate change action.

As Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrives in Lima for the second week of talks, Oxfam is highlighting that Australia is one of the countries that has not contributed to the Green Climate Fund – climate finance that aims to help poor countries adapt to the escalating impacts of climate change, respond to extreme weather events and develop on a low-carbon pathway.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Kelly Dent, in Lima for the climate negotiations, said climate finance was a fundamental part of negotiations that would set the scene for an ambitious global deal in Paris next December, one that matches the public demand and scientific necessity of addressing climate change.

“To coin a well-worn phrase, Australia must be a lifter, not a leaner, in Lima,” Ms Dent said.  “Even cash-strapped Spain has committed climate finance, along with poor countries such as Mongolia and Panama.

“Whilst it’s true there is still a big gap between what is needed and what has been pledged by countries both in climate finance and emissions reductions, it’s clear that Australia is one of the rich countries taking the least action on climate change.

“Australia must not isolate itself further by failing to act with the urgency required to keep global warming to below 2 degrees.”

Ms Dent said the recent US-China deal on climate change and the pledges totaling nearly US $10 billion to the Green Climate Fund had injected much-needed momentum into these negotiations.

“Australia appears increasingly out of step not only with the rest of the world, but with its own people -successive polls indicate that a majority of Australians want stronger action to tackle climate change,” Ms Dent said.

“Whilst it’s good to see that Ms Bishop has not ruled out a contribution to the Green Climate Fund, we need a firm commitment and a sense of urgency given what the science says about the likely impacts of climate change, from increased severity of typhoons to prolonged drought.”

Along with a pledge of climate finance, stronger action means upping our emissions reduction target for 2020 from the current 5 per cent to at least 25 per cent, and committing to a much deeper reduction for post-2020 and the first phase of the new global agreement.

“In short, we need to lift our game,” Ms Dent said.  “While Australia has been rolling back its climate policies, our neighbours in the Pacific, for example, have been working to address climate risks and making the transition to renewable energy.

“With our enormous solar energy potential and other abundant renewable energy sources, we have much to gain from acting on climate change.”

Oxfam’s report last week, Breaking the Standoff, offers a blueprint for progress on climate finance in Lima, showing that it is possible to protect the world’s poorest people from the worst impacts of climate change, unlock significant economic growth, and slash emissions.

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