Australia a Committed Partner in Combatting Climate Change

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It has been an extraordinary year for Vanuatu and Australia. Together, we have faced a series of complex challenges, including a global pandemic, bushfires, tropical cyclones and volcanic ashfall.

Australia congratulates Vanuatu for its significant efforts to plan for and respond to COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold. Australia is proud to support Vanuatu’s COVID-19 response, and we remain committed to supporting Vanuatu’s economic recovery.

We are also pleased to support Vanuatu’s Tropical Cyclone Harold response and recovery efforts, now totalling 2.5 billion vatu, to ensure Vanuatu is built back stronger and more resilient than ever.

Despite these unprecedented challenges, Australia has not lost focus on addressing another of our region’s shared global challenges — climate change. We remain strongly committed to the Paris Agreement, to the Kainaki II Declaration on Urgent Climate Change Action Now, and to practical measures to reduce emissions. Australia has made emissions reduction a central part of our recovery from COVID-19 and we are focused on creating a pathway to net zero emissions through practical, scalable and commercially viable technologies.

As Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison reaffirmed at the Pacific Islands Forum High-Level Roundtable on 11 December, we remain a committed partner in supporting our region to respond to climate change.

Australia is on track to meet and beat our 2030 target, having reduced emissions by almost 17 per cent since 2005. Our progress is as good as, if not better than, progress made around the globe. Across the OECD, emissions have fallen by around 9 per cent on latest figures, well below Australia’s 17 per cent. And as announced by Prime Minister Morrison at the Pacific Islands Forum High-Level Roundtable, we are confident we won’t need to use carryover.

Australia is also building and investing in renewables at record levels. We expect renewables will contribute to 27 per cent of our electricity this year, growing to 48 per cent by 2030. And last year, Australia deployed new renewable energy ten times faster per capita than the global average. One in four Australian homes have solar—the highest uptake in the world.

We are committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, including to achieve net zero emissions globally in the second half of the century.

Australia believes the answer lies in technology.

The Australian Government has launched a Technology Investment Roadmap to accelerate uptake of low-emissions technologies across our economy. Our experience shows that, once these technologies are cost-competitive or cheaper than higher emissions alternatives, business and households rapidly adopt them.

The Australian Government is investing 1.4 trillion vatu in low-emissions technologies over the next decade.

This includes boosting the use of hydrogen, electric and bio-fuelled vehicles and piloting carbon capture and storage projects that can dramatically cut emissions.

We want to enable businesses to produce the materials the world needs every day but with far less environmental impact.

Getting these technologies right can significantly reduce emissions across sectors that account for

90 per cent of global emissions. But this will only work with global collaboration. We are building partnerships with countries like Japan, Singapore, Germany and Republic of Korea to make low emissions technologies scalable and commercially viable. Our newly announced Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technologies, Dr Alan Finkel, will spearhead these efforts from 2021 onwards.

Through our investment, we aim to catalyse deployment of these priority technologies domestically and as low emissions exports. Technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, battery storage, green steel and aluminium and soil carbon, will help Vanuatu grow and create jobs, even as it reduces its emissions.

But it’s not enough to just focus on reducing emissions. The world is already dealing with the effects of climate change.

Australia suffered devastating bushfires during our Black Summer over 2019-20, just as Vanuatu has responded to two Category 5 cyclones in the past five years.

Our scientists tell us that, even with the most ambitious global emissions reductions, we will continue to experience climate impacts like these over the coming decades.

So, Australia is also building climate resilience both at home and internationally.

We are establishing a National Resilience, Relief and Recovery Agency to coordinate adaptation and resilience efforts across all sectors of our economy. We are bringing together the expertise of our world-leading scientific organisations in a new climate and disaster risk information service, ensuring our efforts are informed by the best available evidence.

And to support others around the world, at the Pacific Islands Forum High-Level Roundtable, Prime Minister Morrison announced Australia’s new global climate finance pledge of at least 123 billion vatu over the period 2020 to 2025. This includes a 41 billion vatu investment in the Pacific to support renewable energy deployment and climate and disaster resilience.

This is a 50 per cent increase on Australia’s previous pledge, reflecting our steadfast commitment to help our Indo-Pacific neighbours respond and adapt to a changing climate.

Climate change doesn’t differentiate where the emissions come from. We are all dealing with the impacts — in Australia, in Vanuatu and everywhere else in the world.

Australia’s track record on reducing emissions speaks for itself.

But there is still much more work to be done, and we are committed to practical action to achieve net zero emissions.

In the wake of COVID-19, we must all grow our economies again. Our economies’ growth will depend on low cost, affordable, reliable energy. For this to be sustainable, we will need global cooperation and partnerships to develop low emissions technology that are scalable and commercially viable.

With global collaboration, we believe this can be achieved.

(Source; Vanuatu Daily Post news 15 December 2020)

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