Australia is “constructively engaging” on a fund that would see rich nations financially assist poorer ones to mitigate climate change-fuelled damage.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen wouldn’t specifically commit to back the ‘loss and damage fund’ on the agenda at the UN COP27 conference in Egypt, saying plans for the fund would be finalised in 2024.
But he said Australia backed the scheme being on the COP agenda and would continue to engage on planning.
“(COP president Sameh Shoukry) has made it clear … this is not about compensation, this is about development assistance, working with countries, facilitating cooperation, and we have a particular focus on the Pacific here,” Mr Bowen told the ABC.
“We’re also coming to the table as constructive engagers in this conversation, where the new president wants to take this conversation is to use this COP to progress further discussions about financing to be determined in 2024.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton demanded in Question Time on Tuesday the government rule out signing up to a compensatory scheme.
Mr Bowen said that showed the coalition had no interest in progress on climate change.
“Peter Dutton is showing frankly he would continue a wrecking approach to international negotiations if he were to become prime minister,” he said.
“We support it being on the agenda and it ended up being unanimous on the agenda, so Peter Dutton would be yet again one-out if he were prime minister.”
Opposition climate change spokesperson Ted O’Brien said it showed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was more concerned with helping foreign partners rather than his home constituents facing the inflation crisis.
“Albanese was very quick to rule out supporting Australian households that are really hurting with cost of living pressures, but Peter Dutton asked him the question to rule out signing up to this new fund – wouldn’t do it,” he told Sky News.
“Happy to consider giving away billions of dollars, China being a possible recipient, effectively signing a blank cheque on behalf of Australia but not going to help Australian households.”
Mr Bowen insisted nations were listening, particularly after UN secretary general Antonio Guterres opened the conference warning countries could either sign “a climate solidarity pact, or a collective suicide pact”.
“It’s a waypoint conference, so it’s taking progress on issues as opposed to necessarily being all issues to a conclusion,” he said.
“The comments of the UN secretary general have appropriately received world attention and this is what we’ve been saying … the world faces a choice, we can let the world continue to warm or we can hold it as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.
“The ramifications of that for Australia are very significant.”
(Australian Associated Press)