Pacific faith and civil society leaders at COP28 have joined with Australian NGOs to call on The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy, to make an initial pledge of $100 million to the Loss and Damage Fund.
Australian NGOs have signed a letter asking for this financial commitment to be made when he touches down at COP28 on Thursday.
Signatories include ActionAid Australia, Anglican Overseas Aid, Apheda, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Caritas Australia, Climate Action Merribek, Climate Action Network Australia, Jubilee Australia, Oxfam Australia, Plan International Australia and WaterAid.
Loss and damage funding needs for low-income countries are estimated at USD 400 billion a year. Funding needs will only grow if ambitious action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping global warming as close to 1.5 degree as possible.
“It’s time for Australia to back up its words with action around loss and damage in the Pacific” said Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches.
“Australia has played a key role in designing the fund that we now have, which many developed nations have contributed to in the past few days. To show leadership in this area and continued commitment to its place in the Pacific family the Australian government needs to make a significant contribution to the fund while the Minister is here in Dubai.”
“Australia also needs to take action on the Port Vila call and to begin the process of phasing out and eliminating fossil fuels. There is no point in having a Loss and Damage fund to remediate the damage from climate change if countries continue to export and consume fossil fuels and make the situation worse.”
Flora Vano, Country Manager at ActionAid Vanuatu gave a powerful account of climate impact in her home nation.
“This year alone, my home has been struck by three powerful cyclones. Just as we are recovering from one cyclone, a new one strikes. The endless cycle of climate disasters is threatening progress on women’s rights, exposing us to greater risk of gender-based violence and decimating our livelihoods. But we keep going, we keep adapting. We have to hope our children will have a future. That we will survive the night. But these are just hopes and there is a limit to what we can bear.
“Our ability to deal with the seemingly endless losses and damages of climate change is held back by a lack of real funding. At COP28, wealthy nations like Australia who are most responsible for this crisis, must provide adequate and accessible funding for the new Loss and Damage Fund so countries like Vanuatu can rebuild and recover from climate disasters.”
Damian Spruce, Associate Director Advocacy, Caritas Australia urged the government to make a timely and ambitious contribution.
“Australia is falling behind the rest of the world on its commitment to Loss and Damage. The US, EU, UK, UAE, and other countries including Italy, have all made contributions totalling $595m. Australia has contributed nothing despite being a major extractor and exporter of carbon.
“Pacific Island states do not have time to wait as they need access to this fund to deal with cyclones, sea level rise, and other climate impacts that are happening right now. Contributing urgently, before the moment passes, is also critical to building the international goodwill required to make strong progress at COP28.”
Susanne Legena, CEO of PLAN International Australia pointed at the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls.
“The Australian Government has shown this week that it is serious about limiting warming by signing onto the Glasgow Statement. Now it is time for them to step up and recognise that climate change is having a devastating impact on the lives of girls right now, by making a financial commitment to the loss and damage fund.
“Girls in low-income countries are being hit first and worst by the climate crisis, as our recent report, For Our Futures: Youth Voices on Climate Justice and Education has shown. They are experiencing loss and damage due to climate change in the form of lost school days, lost job opportunities and loss of hope for their futures.
“We cannot delay action on addressing the devastating losses of climate change any longer – the Australian Government must make an initial commitment to the Loss and Damage fund at COP28.”