Australia failed our Pacific neighbours at COP: Aid agencies

By CARE Australia November 12, 2021 0 comments

Australia’s commitments at the COP26 climate change conference failed our Pacific neighbours and others on the frontlines of climate change, say the aid agencies ActionAid, CARE and Oxfam Australia. 

Australia’s announcement of $500 million to help Pacific and Southeast Asian nations mitigate and adapt to climate change is a fraction of our fair share, and it is unclear whether it is new money or will be siphoned from the aid budget.

New analysis from CARE shows most climate finance for developing countries is not new money. Across the 23 donor countries analysed, only 6% of climate finance in 2018 was in addition to aid targets, despite agreement that it should be “new and additional”.

As negotiations in Glasgow wound up, the Alliance of Small Island States said the draft COP26 outcome does not provide strong enough assurances of support to at-risk countries. 

The aid agencies also condemned Australia’s failure to update emissions reduction targets for 2030. Based on our wealth and emissions, Oxfam and ActionAid have calculated that Australia’s fair share of climate finance should be $12 billion annually by 2030. 

The aid agencies are calling on the Australian Government to step up and immediately increase climate finance to $3 billion over the next five years, in addition to the aid budget. The agencies also call for Australia to rejoin the UN’s Green Climate Fund, as supported by neighbouring countries in our region.

Polling by YouGov on behalf of CARE Australia in September 2021 found 61% of Australians want our government to do more to help poorer countries in the face of climate change. 

ActionAid Australia Executive Director, Michelle Higelin, says:

“It is deeply disappointing that Australia has not risen to the challenge of scaling up its global climate finance at COP26. The announcement of an additional $500 million fails to respond to the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. Developing countries must not be saddled with the costs of a crisis they did not cause. Women living in poverty are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis without adequate resources to adapt.”

CARE Australia CEO Peter Walton, says:

“The fundamental injustice of climate change is that people who have done the least to cause it — including people living in poverty, women and other marginalised groups — are feeling the effects the most. Australia must help our neighbours prepare for increasingly severe cyclones, floods and droughts, without taking money out of the already depleted aid budget. It shouldn’t be a choice between building a sea-wall or a health clinic.” 

Oxfam Australia CEO, Lyn Morgain, says:

“Disappointingly, our climate finance contributions are still inadequate. It’s unclear if the $500 million increase in climate finance announced by the Australian Government in Glasgow is new funding or simply double counted from existing aid commitments. Australia has the capability and responsibility to provide more support to meet the needs of our friends in the Pacific, and other hard-hit nations, in adapting to the impacts of climate change.”

For media enquiries, contact:

ActionAid Australia: Milly Atkinson-Handley, 0414 860 238

CARE Australia: Iona Salter, 0413 185 634

Oxfam Australia: Lily Partland, 0418 118 687

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