Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop using Climate Summit to further the interests of coal (and nuclear) lobbies

The speed at which Australia has lost the respect of the  international community on global warming policy is truly embarrassing. 

This decision to raid the foreign aid budget instead of committing new funds will cause a lot of pain in aid circles, coming as it does on the $7.6 billion cut in the budget, and it may not achieve Australia’s aim of buying back credibility.

While the rest of the world has declared ‘game on’ for the 2015 climate summit in Paris, Captain Abbott is doing as little as possible in the field, because he’s not playing to win for people or the planet, he’s using tactics to fix the game in favour of the fossil fuel industries at the big end of town.

Abbott’s attempt to buy relevance at climate change talks in Lima http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/12/11/4146692.htm CHRISTINE MILNE Tony Abbott has tried to buy his way into relevance at the international climate change conference in Lima. But it may not work.

THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT has finally caved in to international pressure and begrudgingly committed money to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help developing nations deal with the impacts of global warming.

The announcement has come only days after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop echoed Prime Minister Tony Abbott in declaring Australia would not support the GCF.

I am glad they have. But why they did so is the issue.

It is clear that they have realised that they are so far on the outer that they will have no influence in the negotiations and will not be able to weaken rules or edit texts unless they contributed in some way. Whether it will be enough of a gesture remains to be seen. As to how far the $200 million will go, and where it has come from, that part is clear. In 2012, as the Deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishopcriticised the Gillard government on ABC News24’s Weekend Breakfast program, saying: “Climate change funding should not be disguised as foreign aid funding. That’s been the view of the United Nations and yet this government still continues to do it. We would certainly not spend our foreign aid budget on climate change programs.”

Fast forward almost exactly two years, and the joint statement from Prime Minister Abbott and Foreign Minister Bishop reads: “We will allocate $200 million over four years from our aid program to Australia’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund.”

The Green Climate Fund contribution should be in addition to Australia’s overseas aid contributions, not a substitute for it. And it is big polluters, the ones causing global warming, who should pay to help the world deal with it. New research released here in Lima reveals that 90 corporations, including BHP Billiton, are responsible for two thirds of all carbon pollution released into the atmosphere over time.

Australia could have raised $18 billion from big polluters over four years, if the Abbott government and Clive Palmer hadn’t repealed the carbon price. But now Australia’s public purse is $18 billion worse off, and the Coalition is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

But this is symptomatic of the Abbott government’s overall approach: give to the rich, take from the poor. Repeal the mining tax and the price on pollution, punch multi-billion dollar holes in the budget, then try to force the sick, the elderly, students, the unemployed, and now the most disadvantaged in our global community, to make up the difference.

The speed at which Australia has lost the respect of the  international community on global warming policy is truly embarrassing.

This decision to raid the foreign aid budget instead of committing new funds will cause a lot of pain in aid circles, coming as it does on the $7.6 billion cut in the budget, and it may not achieve Australia’s aim of buying back credibility. The Abbott government has managed to make a show of turning over a new leaf in climate negotiations, but contributing only two per cent of the initial $10 billion for the Green Climate Fund, and being the last major developed nation to make a commitment at all is noted.Australia’s contribution of $50 million a year is a drop in the bucket and is nowhere near enough, when the global target for finance is $100 billion a year by 2020. It is going to take a lot more than that for Australians or the global community to believe there has been any real shift in Tony Abbott’s climate denial position.

The speed at which Australia has lost the respect of the international community on global warming policy is truly embarrassing. History will remember Tony Abbott and the current Australian Government as one of the key drivers of dangerous climate change, by propping up coal, tearing down renewables, and obstructing global efforts to cut pollution.

I am here in Lima conveying to delegates that the Abbott government does not represent the views of the body politic in Australia. In fact, the latest Fairfax Ipsos poll this week showed 57 per cent of people agree the Coalition is doing too little to combat global warming. Some 30 per cent of Coalition voters agreed on that, too.

Mr Abbott is so busy captaining his barnacle-ridden budget wreck and his simplistic, exclusive “Team Australia” that he has proactively isolated Australia from real action on climate change, which is the biggest threat facing our security and economy.

The problem isn’t ignorance; it is wilful denial and obstruction. While the rest of the world has declared ‘game on’ for the 2015 climate summit in Paris, Captain Abbott is doing as little as possible in the field, because he’s not playing to win for people or the planet, he’s using tactics to fix the game in favour of the fossil fuel industries at the big end of town.

Senator Christine Milne is the leader of The Greens. She is in Lima for the United Nations climate change talks.

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