Julie Bishop MP shunned at UN Climate Summit
On Tuesday Australia’s Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop took the podium at the United Nations Climate Summit to an almost empty plenary to announce that Australia was balancing economic growth with climate action, with a puny 5 per cent cut on 2000 level by 2020 using $2.55 billion to fund this cut in emissions. (Read her her speech) Australia’s climate stance has been savagely condemned at New York summit, not least by our neighbours, Pacific Island nations who accuse us of abandoning them to the plight of more extreme weather and rising seas.
For the Paris meeting in December 2015 Australia needs to come up with new targets for after 2020. Bishop told the summit: “Australia will consider its post 2020 target as part of the review we will conduct in 2015 on Australia’s international targets and settings. This review will consider the comparable actions of others, including the major economies and Australia’s trading partners.” There was no mention that the Climate Change Authority had already conducted a review of comparable targets to 2020 for Australia and found that a target of 19 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 already could be justified.
In contrast, Federal Labor Member for Wills, Kelvin Thomson, spoke at the doors of the House of Representatives Parliaemnt House on Wednesday, on issues ranging from global climate change discussions at the United Nations, Terrorism, attacks on Police in Melbourne, and police powers.
Thomson acknowledged the tens of thousands who rallied for action in Melbourne and round the world.
“I want to urge the Australian Government to heed the calls by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US President Barak Obama at the UN climate summit in New York overnight. Ban Ki-moon has called for bold new initiatives to tackle climate Change, and Barak Obama has said that we are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation to do something about it. It is significant that most of the world’s leaders attended the climate summit and have talked in a serious way about the need for urgent action to tackle climate change.”
When Tony Abbott spoke the following day in the discussion on terrorism he said Australia would lead by example, with no mention of our laggard policy on climate change. Tony Abbott is big at playing up terrorism and the fear card to distract from his government’s budget and economic mismanagement and the trashing of climate action and environmental regulations.
At the opening of the UN Climate summit actor Leonardo Di Caprio spoke as a high profile concerned citizen. He invoked no less than the chief of the US navy’s Pacific command, Admiral Samuel Locklear “who recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat.” He then elaborated that the summit was at an important time in history “perhaps more than any other gathering in human history facing a difficult but achievable task. “You can make history … or be vilified by it.”
While the UN Climate summit advanced pledges Australia and Canada were noticeably reticent. Indeed, while some pledges made at this summit were considerable there is still a huge gap between pledges and what is needed to meet the challenge. This was articulated by Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, who asked Are pledges enough to avoid the climate change precipice?.
One of the promises that came out of Copenhagen in 2009 was that a Green Climate Fund would be established with a $100 billion in annual funding by 2020 to help the least developed and developing nations to mitigate their emissions as they develop and also help them to adapt to the extreme weather and rising seas and temperatures that are already occurring. Despite the summit hearing $2.5 billion in new pledges for this fund, Oxfam says there is still a large funding gap to the target of $15 billion, the amount necessary to start funding programs. Many western developed countries like Australia, Canada and the USA are still to pledge finance to this fund.