Spotlight Activity: Australia Teams with US and Japan to Block New Climate Finance Rules
Last month we rated Australia’s efforts at climate finance three stars: moving in the right direction. Australia has committed itself to the Green Climate Fund for a further two years and has so far paid its dues fully and on time. Sadly this month we report that the Australian delegation at the Bangkok “Paris rulebook” talks teamed up with Japanese and US delegates to block negotiations on new climate finance rules. This is not the first time Australia has stymied progress at key climate events either: last year at COP23 Australia argued against instituting stronger protections for smaller nations vulnerable to climate disasters and successfully diluted the final wording of a loss and damage agreement (a way for smaller nations to recoup the costs of climate disasters from bigger carbon polluters).
In Bangkok Australia argued against making climate finance contributions more transparent. Transparency rules make sense: money needs to be flowing to the best projects or the most climate-affected nations, not to “greenwashed” programs. Under Australia’s proposals reporting climate finance would be deliberately vague and developed countries would be able to report commercial loans for climate projects as climate finance – despite the fact that developing countries often have to pay these loans back with interest. The UN always intended climate finance to be “over-and-above” typical aid or assistance programs, not given out as loans or equity. Climate justice activists have labelled the move by Australia “extremely frustrating”.
Status: Falling Behind
Australia continues to appear two-faced on the world stage with regards to climate. Although the current Australian government holds – at best – modest ambitions for climate action, emission projections suggest Australia is nowhere near on track to meet its Paris commitments. But paradoxically the Australian government insists the country is on track. And worse, it appears to be undermining progress at international climate meetings, perhaps acting as a proxy for the US.
This week Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had no intention of withdrawing Australia from Paris. But it is worth questioning whether Australia actually deserves to take part in negotiations concerning the so-called “Paris rulebook” if it continues to act in bad faith. And now, in the wake of the latest IPCC report into 1.5 degree global warming, the media is reporting that Australian officials sought to have references to “phasing out coal” removed from the final version of the IPCC report.
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