Real action, not hollow words, critical in final hours of climate talks

Media Releases article written on the 10 Dec 2015

As the final sprint towards a climate deal in Paris gains momentum, the chasm between Australia’s rhetoric and the reality of the government’s actions is dangerously wide, Oxfam said today.

While support for a goal of keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees has been touted by Australia, the Government continues to defend its inadequate, internationally slammed emissions targets and has so far failed to commit a fair share of international climate finance.

Oxfam Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke – who is in Paris for the talks – said while Australia’s willingness to support a stronger overall goal to limit warming was very welcome, Australia, must be willing to match this commitment with action.
“With the government espousing the virtues of coal and resisting the inclusion of decarbonisation in the agreement, there is an almighty disconnect between what Australia aspires to and what it has committed to doing. This is not good enough,” Dr Szoke said.

“Australia seems to be supportive of a 1.5C goal being included in the Paris agreement, but the Government needs to start accepting what this entails – a rapid move away from fossil fuels, far greater funding for climate action in developing countries, and rich countries like Australia rapidly strengthening their own emissions targets.”
Australia needs to phase out coal as soon as possible and provide greater support to climate action in poorer countries.

Australia’s current commitment to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 falls far short of a fair contribution to the global emissions reduction task and will mean that in 2030, Australia will still be one of the highest per capita emitters in the world.

To do its part towards keeping the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees, and a chance of keeping below 1.5 degrees, Australia needs to reduce its domestic emissions by at least 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Climate change is already affecting the world’s poorest people, forcing them into a life of hunger and having a devastating effect on their lives. A recent study by the World Bank warned that without action to tackle climate change, 100 million more people could be pushed into poverty by 2030.

Dr Szoke also urged the Government to help ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are placed at the very heart of the agreement.“Our response to climate change must be guided by human rights, and in particular it must recognise the rights and strengths of indigenous peoples, promote gender justice, and ensure a just transition
for the workforce”.

Dr Szoke said Australia had a responsibility to help protect countries that were suffering the worst impacts of climate change, many of which were our closest neighbours, and help ensure the agreement guaranteed adequate funding to help them adapt.


“It’s time for Australia to join the dots, end its love affair with fossil fuels and help deliver a truly transformative Paris agreement,” Dr Szoke said. “Words are not enough. Australia must step up, realise what is at stake and support measures that will drive decarbonisation, deliver increased funding, and produce a global deal that works for everyone and protects generations to come.”

For further information or interviews, please contact Roslyn Boatman on 0409 549 049 or