Australia commits $150m to climate finance for vulnerable Pacific countries | Cop28 #Australia #commits #150m #climate #finance #vulnerable #Pacific #countries #Cop28

The Australian government has pledged A$150m climate finance for Pacific countries but has not contributed to a newly created global loss and damage fund.

Nearly 200 countries reached an historic consensus agreement on the first day of the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai to set up the loss and damage fund to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries pay for the irreversible impacts of climate disaster.

The Albanese government supported its creation but has not financially backed it.

Instead, it said it would contribute a foundational $100m to the Pacific Resilience Facility, a trust fund to invest in small-scale climate and disaster resilience projects, and $50m for the Green Climate Fund, the world’s largest climate financing mechanism. The commitments, but not the sums, were announced at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands last month.

The support for the Green Climate Fund formalises Australia’s return to the UN body after the Morrison government withdrew from it in 2018. Scott Morrison announced Australia was pulling out of what he called “some global climate fund” in an interview with Alan Jones, blindsiding the government officials who were working on it.

Labor’s commitment to the fund is significantly smaller than the $200m over four years that then foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop announced when it was established in 2014. The Albanese government had signalled last month when it rejoined the fund that its contribution would be “modest”.

The funding announcements coincided with the climate change and assistant climate ministers, Chris Bowen and Jenny McAllister, arriving in the United Arab Emirates for the final week of negotiations over how the global community should escalate its respond to the climate crisis.

In a statement, the government said it was “responding to Pacific needs by delivering climate finance directly to the region to deal with the climate crisis and protect people, housing and infrastructure”.

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, said: “We call on other donor countries to follow Australia’s lead and pledge serious funding towards the US$500m target for the Pacific Resilience Facility.”

The government said its commitments built on $75m it had dedicated to renewable energy programs in the remote and rural Pacific, and support for more than 50 Pacific delegates to attend Cop28.

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“Climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of climate vulnerable countries and regions, including the peoples of the Pacific,” four government ministers said in the statement.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has previously railed against the idea of Australia contributing to a loss and damage fund to “send money overseas and beyond our region”, prompting the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, to accuse him in parliament of “dog-whistling”.

The international director with the Smart Energy Council, Richie Merzian, who is also a former Australian climate diplomat who worked on the Green Climate Fund, said the announcements reinforced that the Pacific was the Australian government’s primary climate funding focus.

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He said that Australia giving the Green Climate Fund only a quarter of what the Coalition contributed under Tony Abbott in 2014 was “far from ideal”, and proportionally less than other developed countries, but the commitment was “the direction we need to be going in”.

“Australia rejoining the fund even in a modest way will help the region and demonstrate Australia’s bona fides as a good global citizen when it comes to climate change,” Merzian said.

The creation of the loss and damage fund was a hard-won victory by developing nations after years of campaigning and lobbying but pledges so far have fallen short of what experts say is needed.

The wealthy countries most responsible for the climate emergency have pledged a combined total of about US$700m – equivalent to less than 0.2% of the irreversible economic and non-economic losses developing countries face each year due to global heating.

Italy and France have each promised US$108m, and Germany and Cop28 hosts the United Arab Emirates US$100m each. The US, which is historically the worst greenhouse gas emitter, has so far pledged just $17.5m.

Estimates of the annual cost of climate damage linked to greenhouse gas emissions vary from US$100bn to US$580bn a year.

The two-week climate summit is due to finish on Tuesday.

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