Topics: Green Climate Fund
It came as somewhat of a surprise but yesterday the Federal Government pledged $200 million over four years to the Green Climate Fund. It’s run the United Nations to help developing countries adapt to climate change. But it was previously described by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as a ‘Bob Brown bank’ on an international scale.
So why is the Abbott Government now supporting the fund and what will it achieve? Well joining us now is Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Thank you very much for being here Minister.
Good morning Jonathon.
Why is your Government now supporting this fund?
Well what we’ve been able to do – and all congratulations to Julie Bishop for this – is to ensure that instead of a blank cheque which is what Bill Shorten wanted, we are contributing to regional projects for our preferred outcomes such as rainforest protection.
So we’ve put together an Asia Pacific Rainforest Recovery Plan, we’re working with countries in the region and we’ll be able to focus on our priorities in our region on our projects and these are really valuable things; protecting rainforests in Kalimantan, in Sabah, in Sarawak, in Papua New Guinea.
Protecting the habitats of the Great Orang-utans that have been under threat and that has a huge environmental benefit and a huge emissions reduction benefit and so that’s a good combination and we said no to a blank cheque but we say yes to something where our projects in our region and protecting the great forests of the world is an outcome that Australians can be rightly proud of.
How do you describe the change of policy from your Government on this issue?
Well I think the thing is we’ve been able to negotiate terms and an agreement which make sure that it’s not a blank cheque but it’s investment in things in our region. We’ll help neighbouring countries, it’ll help ensure that these great stands of rainforest are protected…
But it is, I mean it is quite a change in stance. So what brought on this change of heart?
Well I think there’s a bit of a misconception here. When the Howard Government was in, we supported a global initiative on forests and climate based in Indonesia and the region. In Opposition we said we would host an Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit.
Julie Bishop announced that summit only a few months ago in New York and then last month we led and held the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Sydney. So this flows from that process but we’ve been able to secure the terms which will guarantee that it’s not a blank cheque. I think that’s a really good outcome.
So a deep, strong, Coalition tradition of protecting rainforests is now backed up with an agreement that also has the support on early indications of the World Bank, the United States, the Global Environment Facility.
Okay well at the same time, it’s kind of mixed messages because at the same time you’ve pledged this money to the Green Climate Fund, two of your colleagues – Trade Minister Andrew Robb and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop – have told an international conference in Lima that Australia won’t sign a global trade deal next year if it disadvantages Australian business.
Does your Government have a consistent, coherent strategy to deal with climate change?
No actually I disagree respectfully with the way you characterised what they’ve said. Our approach to both of these things is to make sure that we have real reductions in emissions, we don’t waste money and we do it in a way which ensures that there’s comparability from other countries.
What has been said in Lima is the same as we’ve been saying – we want to see a good global agreement. We want to see all major economies as part of it. I’m actually very confident that in the end they will be but our condition has always been as it’s been repeated by all of us on many occasions that the other key economies of the world – our key trading partners, the G20 players, make real and genuine commitments.
I think that’s what Australians want us to do and in the end I think that that’s what’s likely to happen in Paris at the end of next year.
Thank you very much for joining us Minister.
Thanks a lot it’s a real pleasure.
Greg Hunt is the Federal Environment Minister speaking there about the Federal Government’s pledge for $200 million over four years to the Green Climate Fund.