Australia under spotlight at climate talks

Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, Media Releases, News article written on the 01 Jun 2015

Australia will face tough questions over its climate targets and polices this week in Bonn at an important lead-up meeting to the UN climate change negotiations in Paris later this year.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw said Australia would be among around 20 developed countries reviewed in Bonn under a new process whereby countries formally scrutinise each other’s contributions to international climate action, with a handful of countries up for assessment at each round of talks.

“This will be an important test of Australia’s international credibility on climate change,” Dr Bradshaw said. “With a number of countries, including China and the US, having already submitted pointed questions challenging Australia on its current weak emissions targets, Australia is under increasing pressure to up its game.

“Recent months have brought both painful reminders of the consequences of inaction, with Cyclone Pam ravaging Pacific nations and leaving a trail of hunger and homelessness, but also encouraging signs of momentum, as more and more countries and businesses come forward with stronger commitments to tackle climate change.”

Australia is yet to move beyond its minimum target of reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, let alone submit its targets for the post-2020 period.

Australia’s review is scheduled for Thursday morning (German time). Parties including the EU have also questioned the ability of the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund to achieve the kind of targets that will be demanded of Australia. Other countries are expected to come forward with questions this week.

The Bonn meeting (1 – 11 June) is one of three formal negotiating sessions prior to the Paris conference at the end of the year, with further meetings scheduled for August and October. Governments will be working to refine and simplify the draft text of a new international climate agreement.

“The draft text has all the ingredients for a fair and effective agreement, including a goal to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees and strong provisions for supporting poorer countries to adapt to climate impacts and develop prosperous low-carbon economies,” Dr Bradshaw said. “The question is how much of this survives by the end of Paris.”

“Oxfam is urging the Australian Government to support an agreement that delivers for the world’s most vulnerable communities, by coming to the table with an ambitious new set of emissions reduction targets and a strong plan for supporting poorer countries to meet the challenges of climate change.

In July, Australia is expected to announce its provisional targets for the post-2020 period, when the new agreement is due to take effect. Oxfam wants the government to commit to reducing Australia’s emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2000 levels by 2025 and at least 60 per cent by 2030, with a plan to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible and well before mid-century.

“Australia will do great damage to its future prosperity and international standing if we do not shift our focus away from coal and towards building the renewable energy economy of the future,” Dr Bradshaw said.

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