Australia in denial as world forges ahead on Paris Agreement

Climate Change, General, Media Releases, News article written on the 03 Nov 2016

On the eve of the Paris Agreement entering into force tomorrow and governments heading to Morocco for the first crucial talks on its implementation, international aid agency Oxfam is calling on Australia to start living up to its responsibilities and face the reality of the immense risks in our region.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw said unlike the majority of big emitters, Australia was yet to ratify the Paris Agreement and risked being excluded from the first formal meeting of parties, which will take place during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech.

Dr Bradshaw said that while Australia’s failure to ratify the Paris Agreement ahead of the conference was a disappointment, the bigger issue was the yawning gap between Australia’s commitments to climate action and the demands under the Agreement.

“Despite a year of catastrophic climate impacts that have threatened the livelihoods, food security and prospects of communities around the world, the Australian Government remains in denial over the level of immediate action needed to limit warming to 1.5C and avoid a far more dangerous future,” Dr Bradshaw said.

“The science is very clear. Australia’s current commitment to reduce its carbon pollution by a mere 26-28 per cent by 2030 would exhaust our share of the remaining global carbon budget in only a few years and maintain our status among the highest per capita polluters in the world.

“Australia’s continued recalcitrance risks not only greater harm to vulnerable communities, but also threatens our own economic prosperity in a world shifting ever more rapidly away from fossil fuels.”

Dr Bradshaw, who will be in Marrakech for the conference, said it  would aim to make progress across critical areas of international cooperation, including providing adequate funding to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

A new Oxfam report released today – The Climate Finance Shadow Report 2016 – highlights the ongoing shortfall in funding for climate change adaptation and outlines key decisions needed in Marrakech to ensure vulnerable countries and communities receive the support they need.

“Oxfam’s report shows that of the USD $41 billion per year in international climate finance that rich countries have reported, only USD $11-$21 billion was in direct grants or partial loans that did not have to be repaid and that specifically targeted climate action. And just USD $4-$8 billion was earmarked to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change – far short of what’s needed,” Dr Bradshaw said.

Earlier this year, an Oxfam report made more than 50 recommendations for improving the amount, accessibility and effectiveness of Australian climate funding for nations in the Pacific.

“Pacific island countries are working hard to address the escalating realities of climate change and to the lead the world with smart climate solutions,” Dr Bradshaw said. “But when it comes to protecting Australia and our neighbours from the devastating impacts of climate change, the Australian Government is lagging on all fronts.”

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