Australian Government an embarrassment at climate change talks

Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, Media Releases, News article written on the 04 Jun 2015

The Australian Government has embarrassed itself as it continued to duck legitimate questions about its climate policies and targets during a critical UN climate meeting underway in Bonn.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw said the Australian Government was criticised earlier in the week for providing vague, incomplete and at times misleading answers to written questions submitted by countries including China and the US.

During a live question and answer session on Thursday morning in Bonn, the Australian Government received additional questions from many countries, including South Africa, UK, New Zealand and Brazil.

Dr Bradshaw said that some of the strongest challenges came from China and South Africa, which directly confronted Australia on the fairness of its emissions reductions targets, claiming it demanded more of others than it was willing to deliver. Brazil tried in vain to extract more information on how Australia’s Direct Action approach can achieve substantial economy-wide emissions reductions.

Australia claimed when responding to Fiji that it fully recognised and appreciated the Pacific island nation’s vulnerability to climate change, before then defending its inadequate target of reducing its emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 as “fair and equitable”.

He said that while the Australian delegation mostly failed to provide other countries with the new information they sought, it appeared to make one significant concession following a barrage of recent questioning on the controversial Emissions Reduction Fund, admitting that not all of the emissions reductions purchased so far will be achieved by 2020.

“With almost all major economies determined to reach an affective global climate agreement in Paris in December, concern is clearly growing over the Australian Government’s low level of ambition so far, and whether the government has the policies to meet even its existing and woefully inadequate emissions targets,” Dr Bradshaw said.

He said Oxfam was seeing communities around the world hit hard by climate change, including changing growing conditions and increasing risk of crippling drought, floods and heat waves.

“Reaching a new global climate agreement depends above all on building trust, accountability and a sense of shared commitment between governments,” Dr Bradshaw said.

“There is still time for the Australian Government to turn around its steadily worsening reputation in international climate negotiations.

“Coming clean with other countries about what action it is taking will assist Australia’s standing; more robust emissions reductions targets both now and in the future will restore its credibility.”

Oxfam also has a spokesperson in Bonn available for interview.

For interviews please contact: Thursday – Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801 or; Friday – Angus Hohenboken on 0428 367 318 or