No progress so far at Doha climate talks | Pacific Beat

No progress so far at Doha climate talks

No progress so far at Doha climate talks

Updated 3 December 2012, 12:24 AEST

Time is running out for Kiribati as the effects of climate change cause more people to lose their homes while the world procrastinates on the issue.

President Anote Tong says areas of Kiribati have already been swamped by the rising ocean and more communities have had to relocate because their previous village is submerged.

The latest attempt to do something about climate change are United Nations talks in Qatar.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Mark Dreyfus, Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

 

DREYFUS: At Doha this year, we are going to be building on the agreement reached in Durban last year, which is to work towards a global legally binding agreement that's going to involve all countries in the world and particularly all of the major emitters, so it'll be including the U.S., the EU, China, Japan, India, Indonesia and South Korea and all of the other countries, including Australia that are responsible for the carbon pollution in the earth's atmosphere which is what we've got to do something about.
 
COUTTS: Well India and China, of course, have been steadfast in their reluctance to come on board with the carbon taxes etc. or do anything about their emissions. At what point is there if they don't come on board?
 
DREYFUS: Well, that's the point of the agreement reached in Durban last year. Under the Kyoto Protocol, there was a split, sometimes called a fire wall between the developed world and the developing world, only the developed world as it was way back in 1990 agreed to take on commitments to reduce carbon pollution.
 
Now, as of Durban, the world is working as a whole to reduce carbon pollution and China and India, of course agreed to start that work on the global agreement that we're going to reach by 2015.
 
COUTTS: What is it they're talking about doing?
 
DREYFUS: Different countries are going to have their own methods of reducing national carbon pollution. Australia's legislated with its clean energy Future Bill to put a price on carbon. We've also got a renewable energy target and a whole range of other measures that are part of Australia's clean energy Future package that came into effect on the 1st. July, this year.
 
In China, they're working on emissions trading schemes at a pilot level in five provinces and seven cities.
 
In South Korea, they've already legislated for an emissions trading scheme and in India, they're working on a range of carbon intensity measures, so different countries are responding in different ways. But what's significant about the climate change talks this year are is that it marks the first year of a four year negotiation to reach agreement by 2015 with an agreement involving all of the major emitters in the world.
 
COUTTS: Carbon taxes, is that the way to go? We see here, the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, says that if he wins government next year, he'll reverse it and get rid of it, the carbon taxes here. So not everyone's on board with it?
 
DREYFUS: Well, we've had a very difficult and bitter political debate in Australia, of course, but I don't think anyone believes Tony Abbott when he says that he's going to repeal the carbon price that we've worked so hard to legislate. I don't think he can be believed on anything really. He made some dire predictions, dreadful predictions about what was going to happen when the carbon price came in on the 1st. July, and none of those has come to pass. The sky hasn't fallen in and I think people have really stopped believing him. They shouldn't believe him either when he says that even if he wins the next election, he's going to repeal the carbon price. That's just not going to happen.
 
COUTTS: Well, part of my question was is this the way to go?
 
DREYFUS: It is, the world recognises that pricing carbon is the most efficient, least cost way that a country can have to reduce its carbon emissions. It takes affect across the economy, provides a price incentive for companies and householders to reduce carbon pollution across the board. The OECD, World Bank, IMF, all of them recognise that pricing carbons the best way, the best single government measure that you can have. They also recognise that it's useful to have a range of what are called complimentary measures, which Australia also has and that's government policies directed at increasing energy efficiency. Government policy is directed at increasing the amount of renewable energy and we have those as well.
 
COUTTS: We've also heard from time to time, that the money promised by the larger nations and those that are the biggest emitters. The promised money for the smaller island states to help them into sustainable futures is falling short of their promise notes. Why is that and is Australia among them?
 
DREYFUS: Australia committed 599 million dollars to what was called Fast Start Finance back in 2010 and we have actually delivered all of that 599 million dollars of Fast Start money, much of it being spent in the Pacific, which, of course, is an area that is among the most affected of all the areas in the world and I can take you through a whole range of projects that Australia's Fast Start finances assisting with, sea walls in Kiribati to protect homes from inundation, projects to increase rainwater storage in Samoa, Tuvalu and Nauru, working on road infrastructure risks in Vanuatu, accessing, helping the Fijian government access future flooding.
 
COUTTS: And we've heard about most of them, but I'm just really wondering about the money that has been promised, that hasn't been actually given up. There's been Fast Start and there's also the question whether it's new or old money?
 
DREYFUS: Eh, I can say from Australia's point of view that we have committed 599 million dollars to Fast Start Money. It was all new money and Australia has delivered on that funding. Across the board, there was around 30 billion dollars in Fast Start Finance and most of it has been delivered. 
 
One of the topics that's going to be discussed in Doha this year is Future Funding, for, in particular, adaptation projects, because there's obviously a need to for the world to take care of particularly vulnerable countries and that includes many of the island states in the Pacific and that can only be done with finance and Australia's been at the forefront of that and I imagine that Australia's going to continue to be at the forefront.
 
COUTTS: Now Mr. Dreyfus, what is it, because it's a long meeting in Doha. What is it that Australia will bring to the table and what outcomes are you hoping for?
 
DREYFUS: Eh, Australia brings to the table this year our commitment to join a second commitment for the Kyoto Protocol, and that's very significant.
 
Under the Kyoto Protocol, of course, participating countries can access the carbon market, purchase offsets for their emissions and ensure that emissions are reduced at least cost to business and the economy. That's a key outcome of the Doha talks, but there is a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
 
As well, we're treating this as the first year of a four year negotiation on the new global agreement and not looking for a great breakthrough, certainly not thinking that we are going to reach that agreement this year, because the agreement in Durban last year was that the world would work towards a global legally binding agreement involving all countries by 2015. So this is the first year of a four year negotiation.
 

Contributors

Geraldine Coutts

Geraldine Coutts

Presenter

Geraldine is a respected voice on issues in the Pacific and is the presenter of our morning Pacific Beat  program.

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