Dark, humid, noisy and little ventilation. This is the location of the Australian Government offices here at the UN climate talks. It is also where on Wednesday morning, some colleagues and I had the chance to meet with Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet.
Although this was a very short meeting, I took the window of opportunity to hand over messages from some Australians and a big poster in the form of a to-do list which calls on Minister Combet to do the following here at the UN climate negotiations in Durban:
1. Ensure that the global Green Climate Fund is up, running and designed to help poor people, especially women – adapt to the impacts of climate change and embark on low carbon development.
2. Fill the global Green Climate Fund with money from shipping emissions and a Robin Hood Tax
3. Ensure poor countries avoid the worst impacts of climate change – global warming above 1.5 degrees will mean catastrophic impacts for Pacific Island & African nations.
4. Keep the Kyoto Protocol alive – it’s the only current international agreement to tackle climate change and we need it.
We pressed him about the need to get agreement in Durban on long-term sources of climate finance to fill the Green Climate Fund. At last year’s UN Climate Summit, the world reaffirmed its commitment to provide $100bn per year by 2020 to flow through to this fund.
In response, Minister Combet stated that “Australia is committed to long-term finance and getting the Green Climate Fund up”.
Minister Combet also spoke about the need for an “environment effective outcome” on the Kyoto Protocol and reiterated the government’s position for a global agreement, which covers all major emitters. The Kyoto Protocol covers most developed countries, with the main exception being the US, and is due to expire at the end of 2012.
Many countries have passionately called on the global community not to let Africa be the deathbed of the Kyoto Protocol. Many developing countries including small islands states like Tuvalu and Kiribati are calling for negotiators to give life to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as a stepping stone to a fair, ambitious, legally binding agreement by no later than 2015.
Significantly, China is suggesting it could commit to legally binding commitments to reduce emissions in the future. The US however is blocking progress on the big issues of a future agreement by pitching an alarming narrative to lock in a ten-year timeout with no new targets to lower emissions until 2020. Put simply, the US has set-up a roadblock on a busy street whilst other countries are noisily beeping their horns, asking them to get out of the way and allow them to move forward.
With three days to go at this year’s UN Climate Summit, Ministers from all countries have parachuted in to negotiate the final pieces of the jigsaw. Australia can play a positive role by working with its negotiating block, which includes countries such as the US, New Zealand and Norway, to make progress around a legal deal and also support calls to fill the fund with new long-term sources of money like a charge on shipping emissions and a Robin Hood Tax.
Clancy Moore is blogging from the UN Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa. You can follow his blogs here Durban Climate Talks: Minister Combet arrives with work to do…
I’m also blogging on our sister site in Australia, A Climate for Change (www.aclimateforchange.org) where you read more of my work…
About the authorClancy Moore
Clancy Moore is Australia's UN Climate Tracker for 2011. He currently works for Oxfam as a Campaigner, lecturers in sustainability and is a facilitator of social change. He has also worked on advocacy projects in the Solomon Islands and North East Brazil. You can read more of Clancy's work at A Climate for Change.