The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement that Australia will join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, but said much more was needed to transform Australia’s energy sector and help avoid dangerous climate change.
In his speech to the UN climate summit Mr Turnbull said the government would double its current $100-million-a-year investment in clean tech innovation and spend $1 billion over five years to help developing countries become more resilient to climate change.
“ACF welcomes Mr Turnbull’s decision to join the second period of the Kyoto Protocol – climate change is the most global of problems, so Australia’s commitment to the international process is symbolically important,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“But when Australia’s lowly minimum commitment to cut pollution by 5 per cent by 2020 was set, the government said it would strengthen it when other countries set stronger targets. This has happened, so it is time for a much stronger target.
“Without strengthening Australia’s 2020 and 2030 targets we will not get the rapid transformation of Australia’s energy sector that is desperately needed.
“ACF is pleased Mr Turnbull has pledged to double investment in clean tech research and development, but it shows up the inconsistency of the government’s decisions to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA and to cut the CSIRO’s budget.
“The increase to Australia’s contribution to help developing countries build resilience to climate change is important, but the amount pledged is insufficient and it should be additional to the existing aid budget.
“Finally, the Prime Minister’s decision not to sign the fossil fuel communique is a serious missed opportunity.
“Around the world every year half a trillion dollars is spent subsidising fossil fuel use. A government that was serious about tackling climate change would take the opportunity to join with other countries that are moving to stop subsidising big polluters,” she said.