The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) – the peak-body for international aid and development NGOs – is concerned by reports that Australia is seeking to suppress references to 1.5°C temperature-rise warnings in the Pacific Islands Forum declaration.
CEO of ACFID, Marc Purcell, said:
“Australia should not be seeking to censor the dire consequences of warnings issued by the IPCC.
“The Government’s reported action is a direct contradiction to calls from Pacific leaders. Should Australia wish to be a true partner within the Blue Pacific, the Government must amplify rather than deny the voice of Pacific leaders.
“Australia must take responsibility for the causes of climate change, not just effects. Genuine development effectiveness comes from preventing further temperature rises.”
ACFID has welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement of a $500 million climate package over 5 years from 2020 for Pacific nations, but has backed the calls for substantial climate action at home.
“This new commitment from the Australian Government to climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific is welcome. Development grants, rather than loans, is the right funding mechanism for this program.
“We look forward to understanding more about the $140m Australian Private Sector Mobilisation Climate Fund which we understand is still under design by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“The gap in Australia’s climate response is on-the-ground climate adaptation programs for local communities. Such community level adaptation programs are chronically underfunded. ACFID and our members would welcome DFAT brokering relationships between private and civil society organisations to support Pacific communities.
Responding to news that the $500m fund will come from within the existing aid budget, Purcell said:
“We are increasingly concerned that funding for new initiatives is being taken from within the existing aid budget – a budget already at its lowest level in history. By reallocating funds in a declining budget, Australia is neglecting other development programs vital to the region. It serves to weaken relationships and strategic influence in Asia and the rest of the world.”