Despite a promising announcement today of an increase in funding to help Pacific Island countries facing the devastating impacts of climate change, Oxfam has warned Australia still has a long way to go to meet its responsibilities.
Oxfam climate change adviser Dr Simon Bradshaw said the Prime Minister’s announcement of a $300 million, four-year package for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction was an encouraging sign Australia was ready to improve cooperation with its island neighbours.
“But it’s clear that Australia can do far more to increase the scale and accessibility of funding for the region and must substantially increase its pollution reduction targets,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“Australia’s current targets are woefully inadequate and risk a future of increasing hardship for the Pacific.
“Limiting warming to 1.5C – a limit rightly demanded by Pacific governments – will mean reaching zero carbon pollution very rapidly. Australia must start listening to its Pacific Island neighbours, end its addiction to coal and move swiftly to 100% renewable energy.”
New research published today by the Stockholm Environment Institute shows that if Australia continues polluting at its present rate, we have just six years before we exceed our share of a global pollution limit consistent with keeping warming to 1.5C.
“The months since Paris have delivered forceful reminders of what is at stake,” Dr Bradshaw said. “Temperature records have been shattered, Cyclone Winston brought devastation to Fiji and a super-charged El Nino wrought havoc across the region. Climate change is leaving many at risk of hunger and homelessness”
At the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in Micronesia today, the Prime Minister also affirmed the Government’s intention to follow the lead of our Pacific country neighbours and ratify the Paris Agreement this year.
“While ratification is an important step, we must remember that Australia has a very long way to go to bring its commitments into line with what the agreement demands,” Dr Bradshaw said
Oxfam this week released an independent research report – After Paris: Climate finance in the Pacific islands – which made more than 50 recommendations for increasing the accessibility and scale of international climate finance. These include simplifying access to the Green Climate Fund, ensuring women and young people have a stronger voice in programs, and supporting new and innovative sources of funding such as taxes on international transport emissions.
The report highlighted that Australia was lagging behind other developed nations in its contribution to international climate finance. Oxfam maintains that climate finance should be in addition to existing aid commitments and part of a growing aid budget.
“For our Pacific Island neighbours, climate change is a matter of survival,” Dr Bradshaw said. “Pacific Island countries are lighting the way with bold leadership and it is time Australia followed their lead.”
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