UN Summit Australia bogged in the backwater as others move forward Media Release

Sep 24, 2014 - 8:49am

New York: Australia’s disappointing statement to the UN Summit was in contrast to a very solid combination of commitments and actions from countries, cities and business that should give an important boost to international climate action and to economic opportunities in climate solutions, The Climate Institute said today.

“With this disappointing statement, Australia risks being bogged in the backwaters as other countries and capital move on in serious climate action, investment and opportunities,” said John Connor, CEO, from New York.


Australia risks being bogged in the backwaters as other countries and capital move on in serious climate action, investment and opportunities.


“Unlike others, Australia’s only commitment to share a post 2020 target was after it reviewed that of all its ‘trading partners and competitors’ - without a specific timeline. This appears to completely ignore its previous commitment to play its fair part in global action to avoid dangerous climate change.”

“Australia national interest should not be defined solely by the perceived impact of action on our pollution intensive industries. The Government should take a broader view which recognises the interests in the broader Australian economy and community in avoiding accelerating climate change impacts.”

“Australia again repeated just its minimum 5 per cent reduction target which was described as ‘inadequate’ in comparison to other countries actions by the independent Climate Change Authority. However our international commitment to up to 25 per cent reductions below 2000 levels, dependent on the level of global action, remains.”

“We welcome the commitment to tackling HFCs under the Montreal Protocol and look forward to details on how the Government proposes regulate the phase out HFCs in Australia.”

“Australia was by no means alone as there was a mixed bag of commitments but, taken together, the actions and commitments made here will give a significant boost to climate negotiations and to cleaner economic opportunities.”

With more still emerging, key actions and commitments till now include:
1. Post 2020 goals: most countries repeated they will share indicative 2025 or 2030 goals as early as possible in 2015 or specifically by April, including from US, China and Europe.
2. Long-term goal: Many countries explicitly re-affirmed the agreed goal of avoiding 2 degrees warming and there is a clear trend establishing decarbonisation or carbon neutrality well before end of the century. Germany called for global decarbonisation by 2050 and countries, like Sweden, and Iceland pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050.
3. Climate finance: Some extra commitments to invest in developing countries cleaner, climate resilient growth with France and Germany pledging $US1 billion each to the Green Climate Fund. Nothing from Australia.
4. Sector specific:
    a. Renewable energy: a number of countries pledged to go 100 per cent renewables like Samoa, Tuvalu, Costa Rica and Denmark. Others like US, UK and more spoke proudly of renewables growth.
    b. Forests: More than 130 governments, companies, civil society, and indigenous people endorsed a New York Declaration on Forests, pledging to halve forest loss by 2020 and completely by 2030. Australia is to host an Asia Pacific Rainforest Summit on 12 November.
    c. Cities: Mayors from around the world announced a series of initiatives harmonising and boosting actions.
5. Preparing for climate impacts: a major theme of many speeches and actions, President Obama announced a requirement to factor in climate resilience to its aid program.
6. Carbon pricing: A leadership “coalition of the working” with countries representing more than half global emissions
and GDP was launched yesterday reflecting growing momentum for carbon pricing.
7. Companies and investors: separately and together launched actions and architecture such as “We Mean Business” and a plan to decarbonise institutional investment. The IKEA and Apple CEOs joined the call for action.

At the Summit President Obama declared that climate change will "define the contours of this century more dramatically than" terrorism, instability, inequality, or disease. UK Prime Minister Cameron recalled that Margaret Thatcher had addressed the General Assembly on the need for climate action 25 years ago and China indicated a peaking year for its emissions “as soon as possible” will be part of their commitments.

For more information
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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