Key fund passes $10bn after unexpected climate finance pledge by Australian foreign minister
By Sophie Yeo in Lima
Australia has announced that it will deliver AUS $200 million to the UN’s green bank.
Foreign minister Julie Bishop announced the pledge to the Green Climate Fund, which amounts to US $165 million, at a high level meeting on climate finance today.
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott had instructed her to announce the pledge in Lima, where talks on the UN’s climate deal are currently taking place.
“We have a strong track record in delivering climate finance,” said Julie Bishop.
The pledge came as a surprise, as Bishop had told reporters before the conference that Australia would not contribute to the fund. She said the country was already filling its climate finance commitments through its international aid programme.
Her announcement was met with applause in the room.
Australia has received global criticism over the past year for what has been perceived as a backwards approach to climate change.
Abbott has scrapped Australia’s carbon tax and fought to have climate change kept off the agenda at the G20 summit which he hosted in Brisbane in November.
In an earlier boost the the UN climate talks, a $62 million pledge to the Green Climate Fund by Belgium earlier today pushed the fund over its $10 billion target.
Canberra’s promise met with a mixed reaction from green groups.
Brandon Wu, senior policy advisor at Action Aid, said it was “a sign that international pressure can shift decision-making on climate policy even in powerful developed countries.
“But this falls well short of Australia’s fair share of total GCF pledges, which would be closer to US $271m. The money must be unconditional, public, grant-based finance – something that was not clear in today’s statement.”
Kelly Dent from Oxfam Australia also said that the promise fell short of Australia’s financial potential, but welcomed it as a positive shift in policy.
She said: “Australia’s pledge, just days after reports that they would not contribute to the fund, is an important message of support and a recognition of the country’s responsibility to act.”