Red faces for Tony Abbott on Green Climate Fund
The Abbott government has been left embarrassed on another
climate front with key ally Canada indicating that it will support a
United Nations climate fund to assist poor nations to cope with global
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whom Prime Minister
Tony Abbott last month described as "a friend and almost a brother", has
told Canadian media his country will contribute to the Green Climate
Fund. He did not indicate how much Canada would give to the fund, which has an initial goal of raising $US10 billion ($11.4 billion).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also added to international
calls on Australia to reveal its plans for cutting greenhouse gas
emissions by the first quarter of 2015, telling an audience in Sydney
that climate change "won't stop at the Pacific Islands". Germany has
also committed to supporting the UN climate fund, as has Japan, the US.
On the sidelines: A protester takes part in a climate
change march in New York earlier this year. The Abbott government is
"looking more and more sad, greedy and isolated" on the issue of climate
change, Greens leader Christine Milne says. Photo: Reuters
"Climate change knows no borders," Mrs Merkel said a day
after the G20 summit wrapped up in Brisbane with action on climate
change contained in a list of commitments.
"It will not stop at the Pacific Islands."
The fund, based in South Korea,received a "game
changing" pledge of $US3 billion from United States President Barack
Obama during the weekend's G20 summit in Brisbane. A subsequent $US1.5
billion promise from Japan marked a "turning point" ahead of a pledging
conference planned for Berlin later this week.
Isolated: Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Mr Abbott said Australia would not be contributing to the
fund. A year ago, the Prime Minister ruled out any new contributions to
"socialism masquerading as environmentalism" in the run-up to a UN
summit on climate change which included discussion of the Green Climate
The Abbott government was "utterly isolated" on the issue of
the Green Climate Fund, said Tim Costello, chief executive of World
Vision and head of the Civil Society parallel group to the G20, dubbed
The fund especially targets developing nations already being
affected by climate change, he said: "They have the worst land that's
already ecologically degraded, and are the most exposed to sea surges,
floods and droughts."
Australia already funds similar projects in the Pacific, Mr Costello said. "Why can't they take the next step?"
The government's rejection comes despite the G20's final
communique affirming "our support for mobilising finance for adaptation
and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund".
Environment Minister Greg Hunt earlier on Monday deflected
criticism about Australia's absence among contributors to the fund,
saying it had "just contributed $2.55 billion to reducing emissions at
home", in reference to the government's direct action plan to pay
polluters to curb carbon emissions.
The aim of the fund is to help developing nations cut back on
carbon pollution but also to prepare for the global warming impacts
already set in train.
"We've seen Tony Abbott dismiss the Green Climate Fund
– mocking it with childish jibes – when we have leaders of Kiribati and
Marshall Islands plead for this assistance," Labor's climate spokesman
Mark Butler said.
"Our smaller neighbours are vulnerable to rising sea levels,
increased drought and floods and the spread of vector-borne diseases,"
Mr Butler said. "As a rich, developed country, Australia cannot ignore
the impact of these events on Pacific Islands and other countries in our