At the coal face of climate action

INTERVIEWED on Radio Australia last month, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific was spruiking her government’s contribution for the global climate negotiations to be hosted by Fiji next November in Bonn.

Announcing a $6million grant to the secretariat in Suva that will manage preparations for the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP23), Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said: “We are at the coal face here in the Pacific of dealing with issues consequent to climate events.”

It was an unfortunate choice of words. Many Pacific island leaders are hoping that Australia will step away from the coal face! Last month, Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel released a major report on energy security, affordability and emissions reductions. In response, some members of the Turnbull government, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have called for the construction of new coal-fired power stations, funded by government money.

The push to include fossil fuels in new clean energy funding mechanisms comes despite the call from Pacific neighbours for the urgent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions generated by coal and other fossil fuels

This push for coal plants is also played out on the international scene. According to a 2015 report from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia hopes to count funds for “clean coal” projects as part of its international climate funding obligation…

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