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Question: Australia's measly climate finance contribution

Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (14:44): My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Seselja. The climate impacts of your coal, oil and gas loving government are being felt first and foremost by nations who did nothing to create this crisis, including our Pacific neighbours, who are watching their children's future disappear under water. Yet, Australia has abjectly failed to deliver its share of climate finance, as committed to in the Copenhagen Accord.

A report by the Climate Action Network Australia released today has calculated Australia's fair share to be $3 billion over 2020-25 and $12 billion annually by 2030. Now that we know that Mr Morrison will show up at COP26, will he commit to increasing Australia's measly climate finance contribution to pay our fair share or will Australia remain an international outlier on climate?

Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory—Minister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:45): I thank the senator for the question. The short answer to the question is that Australia has made a strong commitment to climate finance, including in the Pacific. That includes, between 2020 and 2025, $1.5 billion, with at least $500 million of that going to the Pacific. That's to directly answer your question. There are a number of other pejoratives in your question, some of which I'll seek to address. When it comes to the issue of climate finance, we will have more to say going forward. But when it comes to doing our bit, we absolutely reject the Greens' constant incorrect, inadequate assertions that we are somehow not doing our bit when it comes to climate change. We hear from the Greens constantly. They parrot it. They talk our country down, and they ignore the facts. When I'm speaking with Pacific leaders, we deal with the facts rather than the assertions that are made by the Greens. Those facts include that we have reduced our emissions by 20 per cent since 2005. When we compare that to other similar economies around the world, we are doing far more than our bit. When you look at countries like Canada, we are well ahead; when you look at the OECD average of wealthy nations, we are well ahead. We have reduced our emissions at a faster rate than places like the US and Japan and the OECD average.

The Greens might want to put forward this assertion, which is completely not based in fact—which is, in fact, incorrect—you might want to talk our country down when it comes to these actions, but whether we're talking to our Pacific neighbours or whether we are going on to the world stage more broadly, we have a proud record. We will do our bit and continue to do our bit and work with countries in the region and beyond to deal with these challenging issues.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Faruqi, a supplementary question?

Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (14:47): Minister, Australia was instrumental in discussions at COP15 that led to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund. But since 2018, the Liberal-National government has contributed zero dollars to the Green Climate Fund. Why did the Australian government abrogate its responsibility and stop contributing to the Green Climate Fund, and will you commit any money to this fund again?

Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory—Minister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:47): In terms of specific issues around the Green Climate Fund, they are decisions that will be made—not by me, I will say. But when it comes to the history and when it comes to contributing to climate finance, we have made our intentions clear, and we have done it in all sorts of ways, as I outlined in answer to your first question. Going forward, we have committed $1.5 billion to climate finance around the world, with at least $500 million of that to go to the Pacific. As I said earlier, we intend to make further announcements in that space. But I go to the point that Australia is doing its bit and will continue to do its bit. We do it in a way that protects our economy; we do it in a way that works with our partners in the region. We take our responsibilities to our Pacific family very seriously. We're not going to be lectured to by the Greens on how we should do that, but we have a proud record despite your attempts to talk it down.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Faruqi, a second supplementary question?

Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (14:48): Minister, when the world was debating solutions to climate change, you were still fighting over whether it was real or not. Now we are in the critical decade, and the world has moved on to establish meaningful 2030 targets, and the Liberals and Nationals are having a brawl over 2050 targets. When will you stop laggards, listen to science and increase your miserable targets to the strong action our communities and our Pacific neighbours are demanding?

Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory—Minister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:49): I thank the senator for the question. We certainly won't be taking our leave from the Greens when it comes to our response to climate change—and on very few other issues, it must be said. Now, the Labor Party might take their lead from the Greens when it comes to responding to climate change. They may well—and we've seen that in the past. The big danger for this country is, if they were in government again, that they'd take their lead from you. We got an insight into that from Senator Gallagher just this week, when she left open the possibility of bringing back a carbon tax if the Labor Party come back in.

So we know that if there's a Labor-Greens government in the future, the Greens will be pushing for a carbon tax, the shadow finance minister says all options are on the table, including the carbon tax. So, we won't be following your advice when it comes to responding to climate change. We won't be following the Labor Party's advice. The Australian people need to understand if there was a change of government, it would be the Greens dictating to the Labor Party, who say they are open to bringing a carbon tax back. (Time expired)

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