COP21 Paris: Australia fails on real increase in support for most climate-vulnerable neighbours

The AUD Billion that Prime Minister Turnbull announced Australia will contribute over the next five years is not a new commitment and is not new money but will be drawn from the Government’s existing aid budget towards building climate resilience and reducing emissions.

"In his Paris speech Prime Minister Turnbull has highlighted the increasing vulnerability of some of our nearest neighbours, however his aid announcement means that Australia's response to their situation is to continue previous contributions, and not increase support in real terms," Edmund Rice Centre Director, Phil Glendenning, said today from the COP21 UN Climate Summit in Paris.

"Whilst noting the increasing vulnerability of some of Australia’s nearest neighbours, the announcement in Paris means that Australia is going to continue meeting Australia’s previous contributions, and will not increase support in real terms," Edmund Rice Centre Director Phil Glendenning said in Paris today.

"It is disappointing that Australia’s recognition of the increased vulnerability of our neighbours like Kiribati and Tuvalu should be addressed with funds drawn from Australia’s existing and diminishing aid budget," Mr Glendenning said.

"It is important that Australia recognises the impact climate change is having, and will have, on our close neighbours. This is welcome, as is a recognition of the support needed to assist developing countries build resilience to climate change. Given that it is surprising that Australia will provided no new funding," Mr Glendenning said.

"Nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu want to come out of this Conference with a guarantee that they can survive. They are the canaries in the coal mine on climate change. Their very future as nations and the survival as peoples in no small way depends on the decisions made here in Paris. Both these countries use Australian currency and look to Australia as their largest neighbour."

"Climate change acts as the ultimate multiplier threat to these countries – causing crops to fail, water supplies to be contaminated, and poverty to increase. It is an additional challenge for these countries on top of existing development challenges and therefore requires additional support."

"The Prime Minister told the assembly here in Paris today that Australia is surrounded by some of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. He is right. Countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu right now are facing immense challenges from climate change, with rising seas swallowing land and homes, and extreme weather causing havoc with food production and water supply."

"Given Australia’s recognition of the vulnerability of our neighbours they deserve more than business as usual", Mr Glendenning said.

"Whilst Australia’s Paris announcement is where the response must start, and it is welcome, but is not enough. Australia must match recognition of poor and vulnerable neighbours with firstly, the necessary level of assistance to assist them to adapt to climate change; and secondly, work to ensure a legally binding outcome here in Paris can enable them to survive," Mr Glendenning concluded.

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