Australia is lagging behind other developed nations and has failed to increase its contributions to international climate finance as our neighbours in the Pacific face a fight for survival, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
Releasing independent research into the adequacy and effectiveness of climate finance, Oxfam Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said Australia could and must do more to support Pacific island countries in their enormous challenge of adapting to the devastating and escalating impacts of climate change.
Dr Szoke said the report, which makes more than 50 recommendations for urgent action in 11 strategic areas, came ahead of this week’s meeting of Pacific Island Forum Leaders in Micronesia, where climate change was expected to be on the agenda.
She said while Pacific islands were taking a leading role in addressing the realities, Australia had failed to increase its contribution to international climate finance in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Australia had to work with governments and civil society across the region to ensure vulnerable communities could access the support they needed.
“Overall, the responsibility of Australia to contribute to the climate financing needs of their Pacific island neighbours remains unmet and underfunded,” Dr Szoke said.
“In coming decades, big numbers of Pacific people – in some cases entire nations – could be forced from their homes and lose their livelihoods in the face of an escalation in climate related impacts.
“As a wealthy nation and one of the biggest countries in the region, Australia has a particular responsibility to support its vulnerable neighbours in the Pacific.”
While Australia had been proactive in assisting Pacific island countries to access the Green Climate Fund, it had not increased its average annual contribution of $200 million to international climate finance since 2010.
“Australia’s contribution is weak compared to other developed nations, which have increased their spending on climate finance,” she said. “What’s more, our contributions are now being drawn from an aid budget which has been slashed to a historic low of 23 cents in every $100.
“Oxfam is calling for Australia to climate finance to reach at least $3.2 billion in less than four years.”
Dr Szoke said Pacific island countries still face significant challenges accessing available funding. The report’s recommendations include simplifying access to the Green Climate Fund, ensuring women and young people have a stronger voice in programs, and supporting new sources of funding such as taxes on international transport emissions.
“Access to climate finance is a matter of global justice – those who have contributed the least to the causes of climate change are typically the most vulnerable to its impacts and have the least resources to respond,” Dr Szoke said.
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