Oxfam will urge the Abbott Government’s special emissions taskforce to agree an emissions target that will help reduce the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest people, who are already bearing the brunt of greater droughts, floods, hunger and disease.
The Prime Minister’s taskforce will begin asking for advice this week on how far Australia should cut its carbon pollution after 2020.
Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Simon Bradshaw said climate change was a major threat in the fight against hunger, as food production was being hampered by increasingly severe weather around the world.
“In the past decade, we’ve seen a run of increasingly extreme disasters exacerbated by climate change: Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines, the Pakistan floods, droughts across East Africa, and now Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu,’ Dr Bradshaw said.
The Government is releasing a discussion paper that will inform the work of the taskforce set up to determine Australia’s long-term emissions targets and contribution to the new global climate agreement, to be finalised in Paris in December.
“Throughout its deliberations, the taskforce must keep front of mind the consequences of unchecked climate change for Australia and our neighbours,” Dr Bradshaw said.
He said Australia’s target needed to be in line with the internationally agreed commitment to limit warming to no more than 2°C, and a reasonable chance of achieving the 1.5°C limit, beyond which vulnerable countries, including in the Pacific, consider the likely impacts to be beyond their ability to adapt.
An announcement from the Prime Minister is expected mid-year, later than the 31st March deadline that countries have been urged to meet.
“In determining a fair commitment for Australia, the taskforce must consider our relative economic strength, our high per capita emissions and cumulative contribution to climate change, and the development needs of poorer countries,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“Australia is blessed with abundant renewable energy potential, meaning the transition to a renewable energy based, zero-carbon economy is more straightforward than for some countries.”
Oxfam has calculated a fair contribution for Australia would include a cut in Australia’s domestic emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2025 and at least 60 per cent by 2030. Dr Bradshaw said these cuts to our domestic emissions must be accompanied by substantial support towards climate change adaptation and low-carbon development in poorer countries.
“Time and again we are seeing that least developed countries – that have contributed almost nothing to the problem of climate change – are suffering the devastating consequences of global inaction,” he said. “This year’s international climate negotiations are a chance for Australia to be a responsible global citizen and work hand in hand with other countries towards a more just and sustainable future.”
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