Once again, Australia could not elude international pressure at the COP20 climate summit in Lima, Peru. It finally pledged to contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The government’s representative to the summit, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, announced on Wednesday the country has committed it will give $200 million to the fund designed to help poorer nations to tackle climate change.
With Australia’s commitment, the GCF has already reached a threshold pledge of approximately $10.14 billion equivalent contributed by 24 countries. The UN’s CGF is raising $10 billion.
A dramatic turn around, Abbott has been notorious in his anti-climate change stance. A self-confessed climate skeptic, Australia became the first country in the world to have scrapped the carbon tax under his leadership. He did not show up in the UN climate summit in September and he we was also adamant not to include climate change in the G20 agenda which Brisbane hosted last month.
The meeting between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingping ahead of the Brisbane summit sealed a historic deal on carbon emissions cuts within the next decade by the two countries. Political observers said the deal is a game changer ushering in a new leadership to step up action on climate change. Abbott battled to ignore the subject throughout the G20 summit, but a communique to culminate the event pressed Abbott to back down. Majority prevailed.
In Lima, participants from around 190 countries did it again. Developing countries and conservation groups said it is time for the Abbott camp to admit the urgency of the issue..
Canada, Australia’s partner in climate denial, also recently pledged about $US250 million.
The money which Australia pledged, will be paid over four years. It will be sourced out from Australia’s aid program budget.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said the backflip was evidence of the intense international pressure Australia had been under to commit to the fund. She added there is no way Australia could have continued with its stand against global finance and be viewed as negotiating in good faith in Lima.