Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to spend “at least” $1 billion helping vulnerable nations cope with climate change at the UN climate conference in Paris. The extra funds are expected to come out of the existing foreign aid budget.
Mr Turnbull told the conference, attended by around 150 other world leaders, the funding will be spread over 5 years.
“The impacts of global warming are already being felt and will continue to be so even after we reach global net zero emissions,” he told the Summit on Monday.
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The prime minister also formally announced Australia’s plan to double clean energy technology investment as part of a multi-country initiative known as Mission Innovation.
The 20 involved countries, including the United States, China and India, represent 80 per cent of global clean energy research and development budgets. As part of the plan, Australian government investment in clean energy research and development will increase to about $200 million by 2020.
The government will also join a handful of developed nations to ratify the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.
“I think it’s a very important statement,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Paris.
While ratification sends a signal of Australia’s commitment to emissions targets, it will also allow the government to access carry-over or “surplus” emissions from exceeding the first commitments.
“It has important advantages for Australia too,” Mr Turnbull said.
Finance is a hot topic at the UN talks, with some predicting the fate of an agreement could depend on the size of the ask to entice poorer nations to sign on.
There’s been growing pressure on Australia to pledge additional money, with international ‘friends’ stumping up large contributions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada pledged $2.65 billion over five years, while Japan committed to mobilising $10.6 billion in private and public funds by 2020. While Mr Turnbull is standing firm on Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction targets of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels, he indicated flexibility to increase it over time.
“Our agreement here in Paris must provide a common platform for action, the dynamism to build ambition and a robust and transparent reporting system,” he said.
The government will review its domestic policies in 2017 and Mr Turnbull emphasised the real possibility of purchasing international credits in a bid to cut emissions cheaply.
“It’s certainly something we’ll be looking at with a very open mind,” he said.