Australia must step up to the climate change challenge

30 Nov, 2015

When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rises to speak at the Paris climate change talks later today, Australians will be hoping for a speech that comes from the man who not only believes that the consequences of unchecked global warming will be catastrophic but that he will commit Australia to stronger carbon pollution reduction targets, said the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council for International Development, Mr Marc Purcell.

“Mr Turnbull needs to be bold in setting out his hopes for a new global climate agreement, one that settles for nothing less than putting the world on a pathway to an accelerated transition to a zero carbon economy,” Mr Purcell said.

“Australia itself needs a stronger target for reducing Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 2000 levels by 2025 and at least 60% below by 2030 and making a clear commitment to achieving zero emissions well before mid-century,” he said.

“Recognising that developing countries will be the hardest hit by the impact of climate change, and that many of them are Australia’s neighbours, Mr Turnbull needs to champion the cause of the Pacific island nations.

“Mr Turnbull should announce the development of a climate change strategy for Australia’s aid program and commit Australia to a program of climate change support for our Pacific island neighbours, backed with greater levels of funding,” Mr Purcell said.

As he hands over to Ministers Greg Hunt and Julie Bishop to negotiate the detail of the COP21 agreement, Australia should also back the following positions:


  • A five yearly review mechanism being embedded in the agreement to routinely review and increase the targets that countries put forward in light of new advancements, underpinned by the clear articulation of a strong long-term emissions goal to keep warming below 1.5 degrees in the longer term.
  • The issue of ‘loss and damage’ strongly and fairly captured as a separate article in the Paris agreement, recognising that irreversible loss and damage due to climate change will increase where adaptation and mitigation cannot curb the most severe impacts of climate change.
  • Greater funding for low-carbon development and building resilience to climate impacts for developing countries, in particular for Least Developed Countries and other highly vulnerable states. At least fifty per cent of all public finance should be for adaptation.
  • Contribute our fair share to the agreed US $100 billion in climate finance by 2020, which is an estimated AU $550 million. This contribution should be achieved as part of rebuilding Australia’s aid budget, through new allocations to the Green Climate Fund and other climate change programs.

Media Contact: Lyn Larkin 0400 343 227

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