CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia will continue to directly pay for climate change adaptation in vulnerable South Pacific island nations through its aid budget rather than donate to a UN Green Climate Fund designed for the same purpose, the foreign minister said Friday ahead of climate talks in Peru.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said governments should judge for themselves whether bilateral action to reduce the impact of climate change on developing countries was a more efficient use of aid money than donating through the UN.
“The Green Climate Fund is about supporting developing countries build resilience to climate change. Australia is already doing that through our aid programme,” Bishop told The Associated Press before leading the Australian delegation to Lima for a UN climate summit.
“From my experience, bilateral work is able to customise responses when we’re working directly with another partner country,” she said.
Rich countries have pledged about $10 billion to the recently launched Green Climate Fund, which is meant to become a key source of finance to help developing countries deal with rising seas, higher temperatures and extreme weather events.
Australia has been accused of setting a poor example for other countries by failing to contribute to the fund. Bishop’s government has also been criticised for abolishing Australia’s carbon tax that was levied on the country’s worst greenhouse gas polluters until July.
It replaced the tax with a 2.55 billion Australian dollars ($2.14 billion) government fund to pay polluters incentives to operate more cleanly.
Bishop said Australia was on track to achieve its target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 12 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.
But she said the Australian delegation would not give the Lima meeting any proposed Australian emission-cutting targets beyond 2020.
“The message that I will be presenting on Australia’s behalf is that the new agreement should establish a common playing field for all countries to take climate action from 2020 and seek commitments from all the major economies to reducing emissions,” she said.
Delegates from more than 190 countries will be in Lima trying to lay the groundwork for a global emissions pact they hope will be adopted in Paris next year. Bishop said that without legally binding commitments in Paris to reduce global emissions beyond 2020, any agreement would amount to nothing more than aspirations.