Australia has pledged $150 million to support climate finance for Pacific nations that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Australia has promised to provide A$150m in climate finance to Pacific nations, but has not invested in a recently established worldwide fund for loss and damage.
Almost 200 nations have come to a landmark consensus at the start of the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai. They have agreed to establish a fund for loss and damage, aimed at assisting the poorest and most vulnerable countries in dealing with the lasting effects of climate crises.
The Albanese government endorsed its establishment but has not provided financial support for it.
Instead, the announcement stated that a base amount of $100 million would be donated to the Pacific Resilience Facility, a fund dedicated to supporting smaller climate and disaster resilience initiatives. An additional $50 million would also be allocated to the Green Climate Fund, which is considered the largest source of climate-related financing globally. These commitments were made public during the Pacific Islands Forum held in the Cook Islands in the previous month.
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Australia has officially rejoined the Green Climate Fund, marking their return to the UN organization after withdrawing in 2018 under the Morrison government. In an interview with Alan Jones, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unexpectedly declared Australia’s withdrawal from a “global climate fund”, surprising officials who were actively involved in the process.
Labor’s commitment to the fund is significantly smaller than the $200m over four years that then foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop announced when it was established in 2014. The Albanese government had signalled last month when it rejoined the fund that its contribution would be “modest”.
The funding news came at the same time as the arrival of Chris Bowen and Jenny McAllister, ministers responsible for climate change and climate assistance, in the United Arab Emirates. This marks the final week of discussions on how the world should increase its efforts to address the climate emergency.
The government announced that it is addressing the needs of the Pacific by providing climate funding directly to the region in order to address the climate emergency and safeguard individuals, housing, and infrastructure.
The minister of foreign affairs, Penny Wong, urged other donor countries to emulate Australia’s example by committing significant funding towards the $500 million goal for the Pacific Resilience Facility.
The government announced that it has added to the $75 million it previously allocated for renewable energy initiatives in remote and rural areas of the Pacific. They also provided assistance for over 50 Pacific representatives to attend Cop28.
According to a statement from four government ministers, climate change poses the greatest risk to the livelihoods, security, and overall well-being of climate vulnerable countries and regions, including the people of the Pacific.
Peter Dutton, the leader of the opposing party, has previously expressed strong opposition towards Australia’s involvement in a loss and damage fund, stating that it would mean sending money beyond our region. This prompted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to accuse him of “dog-whistling” during a parliamentary session.
Richie Merzian, the former Australian climate diplomat who worked on the Green Climate Fund and now serves as the international director of the Smart Energy Council, stated that the recent announcements further emphasized the fact that the Australian government has prioritized providing climate funding to the Pacific region.
He said that Australia giving the Green Climate Fund only a quarter of what the Coalition contributed under Tony Abbott in 2014 was “far from ideal”, and proportionally less than other developed countries, but the commitment was “the direction we need to be going in”.
According to Merzian, even a small contribution from Australia to the fund would benefit the region and show their commitment as a responsible global player in addressing climate change.
Developing countries have fought hard for the establishment of the loss and damage fund, through years of advocacy and advocacy efforts. However, the promised contributions have not met the amount deemed necessary by experts.
The affluent nations that bear the greatest responsibility for the urgent climate crisis have committed to contributing a collective amount of approximately US$700 million. This is less than 0.2% of the irreversible economic and non-economic damages that developing countries experience annually as a result of global warming.
Italy and France have each promised US$108m, and Germany and Cop28 hosts the United Arab Emirates US$100m each. The US, which is historically the worst greenhouse gas emitter, has so far pledged just $17.5m.
The estimated yearly expense for climate-related destruction caused by greenhouse gas emissions ranges from US$100bn to US$580bn.
The climate summit, which has lasted for two weeks, is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday.