Climate change: Australia should not go to Lima empty-handed Opinion Article

Dec 09, 2014 - 9:25am

This joint statement by 13 NGOs first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald online on 9 December, 2014. The authors are: Oxfam Australia CEO, Dr Helen Szoke; World Vision Australia CEO, Tim Costello; ActionAid Australia executive director, Archie Law; CARE Australia's Dr Julia Newton-Howes; Save the Children Australia director, Mat Tinkler; Australian Council for International Development executive director, Marc Purcell; Plan in Australia CEO, Ian Wishart; Australian Conservation Foundation CEO, Kelly O'Shanassy; WWF-Australia CEO, Dermot O'Gorman; Childfund CEO, Nigel Spence; CBM Australia acting CEO, Jane Edge; Caritas Australia CEO, Paul O'Callaghan; and The Climate Institute CEO, John Connor.


As leaders of key development and climate change organisations, we strongly urge the Australian Government to join global efforts and make a credible investment in climate finance through the Green Climate Fund.

Country representatives have gathered in Lima, Peru, to continue work on a new global framework to tackle climate change. Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb will be attending the talks this week.

At the G20, the government signed up for "strong and effective action" and that means progress on multiple fronts. The Green Climate Fund is one of these international efforts. This Fund managed by a joint Board of developed and developing countries helps finance poorer, vulnerable countries to build low-carbon economies and manage the risks and costs of global warming.

Twenty-three countries have now pledged $US9.95 billion of the Fund's initial $10-15 billion target, including some developing nations.

In contrast to the US pledge of $A3.5 billion, the Japanese pledge of $A1.75 billion and pledges from our near neighbours, Australia has not made any contribution to capitalisation of the Fund.

Many countries in Australia's own Indo-Pacific region are small island nations and developing countries that will be hit hard by the impacts of climate change.

Supporting the adaptation of communities through early intervention will help safeguard the development gains achieved in recent decades.

We all know prevention is better than cure. If we fail to invest in building resilience in our region, we impose far greater costs in the future.

Children in developing countries have contributed least to the causes of climate change, but will be among the worst affected by it. We must not burden the next generation with this challenge.

We call on the Australian Government to join our global peers in contributing to the Green Climate Fund in line with international commitments to provide finance to assist developing countries to tackle climate change. Such funds should augment, not replace, current aid funding.

This is not only vital in meeting our shared responsibility for the global climate, but it is vital for our own interests.

It is in Australia's national interest to have a stable and sustainable region where people are not forced to leave their homes permanently due to inhospitable weather patterns, infertile soils, food and water scarcity, and rising sea levels.

It is also in our interest to achieve a strong global framework for climate action where responsibilities are shared in an equitable way between all countries.

Australia has a strong track record of giving generously when countries in our region face natural disasters and a history of bipartisan leadership, effectiveness and innovation in climate finance.

The Prime Minister has publicly stated his support for a strong global agreement at Paris in 2015. As a wealthy major economy, Australia can and should play its fair part in helping the world's poorer nations deal with the impacts of global warming. This should include a contribution to climate finance through the Green Climate Fund.

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