Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously declined to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, calling it a “Bob Brown bank on an international scale”. However, Mr. Abbott has had a change of heart and the Government has now pledged $200 million for the international fund spread over four years.
The position taken by the Prime Minister is the latest change by the Government over climate policies. During the G20 conference in November, Mr. Abbott refused to commit to the Green Climate Fund, which was formulated to assist developing nations to combat climate change. Mr. Abbott said Australia had already spent $2.5 billion with its Direct Action Fund and is providing $10 billion in its “green bank”, which the Prime Minister had previously wanted to abolish.
Green Climate Fund receives $200M in funding from Australia
However Mr. Abbott changed his mind and this is evident from the attendance of foreign minister Julie Bishop at the UN climate change Lima summit meeting. The change in position was made clear in a statement issued by Mr. Abbot and Ms. Bishop. According to Mr. Abbott, the fund will help economic growth in the Indo-Pacific private sector, especially those in the “energy, infrastructure and forestry sectors.”
The Green Climate Fund turn-around was a pleasant surprise to the participants in the UN conference and was warmly received. Ms. Bishop also added that Australia has “a strong track record” when it comes to climate finance delivery. In a press conference in Melbourne, Mr. Abbott admitted that he did make “several comments” concerning the Green Climate Fund, but that the last few months several things have “developed”.
These changes, Mr. Abbott confesses, mean it is now time for the country to offer a modest and proportional commitment as any “good international citizen” should do. According to the Prime Minister, the Green Climate Fund money will be strictly invested in specific projects.
Green Climate Fund donations to be strictly invested says PM
When asked about the Green Climate Fund prior to the UN’s Warsaw conference, Mr. Abbott replied that the Government will not make contributions, and there were reports then that the Prime Minister had decided early that there will be no Green Climate Fund allocations. Before the turn-around, Mr. Abbott had likened the Green Climate Fund to the Clean Energy finance Corporation run by ex-Greens head Bob Brown, which Mr. Abbott wanted dismantled.
But that seems to be all in the past following Mr. Abbott’s decision, a move that has received support from advocacy groups. Even so, proponents say the Government should do more. Kelly Dent, an Oxfam Australia campaigner, calls this a first step and still short of the administration’s fair share. However, she did say that the pledge, made after initial reports to the contrary, sends a vital “message of support” and that Mr. Abbott recognizes the country’s sense of responsibility.
Australia can still do more according to Climate Institute
Reached for comment, the Climate Institute think tank said they welcome the policy change and donation to the Green Climate Fund. According to the Institute, this is a significant first step towards “proper and fair” monetary support for susceptible countries that must meet the climate change challenge.
The Institute says the pledge is short of the expected $350 million annual pledge but that the government still has an opportunity to show its support when the plan is submitted to the international community.