LIMA: China has castigated Australia over its refusal to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, saying the response by rich nations had been “inadequate” and Australia’s position “not good news.”
In a press briefing at the climate talks in Lima, Su Wei, the head of China’s delegation, said the $9.7 billion so far committed to the GDC were only a small part of the $100 billion agreed at Copenhagen to help poorer nations dealing with the impacts of climate change and to use technologies to reduce emissions.
“It is far from adequate,” he said. Asked about Australia’s refusal to contribute any money to what Tony Abbott has disparagingly called the “Bob Brown bank” – in reference to the former Greens leader, Su Wei said:
“It is not good news (about) Australia, if it is true that they refuse to provide any money to the GCF,” Su said.
Australia has argued that its commitments can be covered through its foreign aid program, and Abbott even said Australia had already committed to climate finance through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, set up by Labor under the insistence of Brown, and which the Abbott government wants to dismantle anyway.
The issue around the GCF is the biggest challenge awaiting foreign minister Julie Bishop when she arrives at the Lima talks on Monday for a three-day visit.
While Australia’s domestsic policies on climate and clean energy have changed dramatically under the Abbott government, the GCF represents its biggest and most tangible about-face on the international political stage on climate.
Delegates say it is the most difficult issue for Australia at these talks, over and above even the ambition of Australia’s emission reduction targets before and after 2020.
On that issue, China’s Su Wei said the greenhouse gas cuts planned by rich nations before 2020 were far too small and urged a toughening.
Australia, even though its commitment to the UN includes a 15-25 per cent target has shown no interest in upping its target from 5 per cent, which most analysts suggest they will struggle to meet under the Direct Action policy.
The Australian government ignored a Climate Change Authority recommendation that the target be lifted to 19 per cent to match actions by other countries.
Since then, pressure has risen because China and the US have signed a joint agreement that would see the two biggest emitters reign in emissions, with China peaking before 2030 and the US upping its ante to a 26-28 per cent reduction by 2025.
Australia used to have a 2050 target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent, but that was ditched as part of the carbon price repeal that was voted by the Senate in July.
Australia, meanwhile, has won a “fossil of the day” award – its second in the first four days of the Lima talks – this time for its position on another touchy issue of the Lima talks – “loss and damage”.
The issue of loss and damage issue has become a flashpoint for Australia, particularly with the small island and African states who were members of the moderate grouping, the Cartagena dialogue. It is one of the reasons that Australia has distanced itself from the group it helped co-found.
The fossil award – which Australia received on Monday over climate finance – was given on Thursday because Ausralia insisted that loss and damage not stand as a separate protocol, but part of the “adaptation” package.
Environmental NGOs said this stance is in direct opposition to the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts.
“ It is not possible to adapt to your farmland being turned into desert. It is not possible to adapt to losing your land due to rising sea levels. Not really that cool with another major Typhoon bearing down on the Philippines (incidentally the third during a COP) and with the IPCC warning that some climate impacts will soon be irreversible. The Aussies will lose mates on this one.”