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Pacific nations like Vanuatu are subject to extreme weather conditions as a result of global warming. [Credit: Vlad Sokhin]

December 1, 2015

More investment needed to reduce poverty and counteract climate change

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today announced at the Paris climate talks that Australia will provide $1 billion in funding to its Pacific neighbours over the next five years to help them deal with the impact of global warming.

ChildFund Australia welcomes this commitment to supporting developing countries in our region. However, we are disappointed that this announcement refers to existing funding, rather than a new program of investment.

Australia currently contributes around $200 million annually to climate change programs in the Asia-Pacific through its overseas development assistance program, and there are no plans for additional funds to be allocated.

Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “Given that our aid budget has already been slashed by over $11 billion in the last three years, we are extremely concerned about the Government’s ability to deliver effective, transformative programs, which both reduce poverty and counteract climate change.”

Pacific nations currently produce some of the lowest levels of carbon pollution globally, yet are the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Not only must countries in this region prepare for the impact of rising sea levels, but many are already dealing with the devastation caused by extreme weather events, including droughts and cyclones.

ChildFund believes it is only right that Australia, which has actually increased its carbon emissions in the past 12 months, should assist its nearest neighbours with programs to mitigate or prevent the worst outcomes of global warming. This is vital if we are to prevent communities from back-sliding into poverty, or witness a worsening of living standards in already vulnerable communities.

ChildFund also supports recommendations by the Australian Council for International Development for the Government to establish far more ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a clear commitment to achieving zero levels well before the mid-century.

Mr Spence added: “It is reassuring to see the new Prime Minister recognise climate change as an urgent and important issue; we know the devastating impact it can have on children and families already living in poverty.

“But right now Australia is on track to having the lowest level of aid investment ever in its history. If the Government is serious about providing support to its nearest neighbours, we need more investment in our region, not just a reallocation of funds from one spreadsheet to another.”