The government and opposition today blocked a Senate motion from the Greens calling on the government to abide by its international commitments on overseas development aid and fast-start climate financing for developing nations.
The government acknowledged in its response to the motion that almost all funding for the fast-start financing committed at Copenhagen last year would come from existing Overseas Development Aid, a clear breach of trust in the negotiations.
"It is only a few weeks since outgoing UN climate chief, Yvo de Boer, warned that taking climate financing out of existing aid budgets would be a breach of trust in the climate negotiations," said Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne.
"The Rudd government seems to think that just because other rich nations are already breaching trust in the climate negotiations in this way, it is OK for them to do so, too.
"At this point in global negotiations, rebuilding trust is critical. A government that wished to play a leadership role would take a stand on principle, not sit comfortably at the back of the pack.
"That the government is resting on its laurels for committing to the Millennium Development Goals rather than moving swiftly to meet that commitment is also troubling."
Notice of motion 806
That the Senate-
(a) notes that:
(i) the Rudd Government's current and promised overseas aid commitment fails to meet the agreed United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal of 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI),
(ii) under the Copenhagen Accord, the Rudd Government undertook to contribute to US$30 billion for ‘fast start' financing for the period 2010 to 2012 and that this would be additional to existing aid funding,
(iii) an Australian contribution to US$30 billion is estimated at AU$760 million,
(iv) the climate aid related spending announced in the budget is not additional and is less than half of Australia's fair contribution, and
(v) UN climate chief Yvo de Boer noted that, by pledging money that is not new and additional, some industrialised countries are beginning to ‘climate-wash' and that this is not conducive to rebuilding trust in the international climate negotiations; and
(b) calls on the Government to:
(i) provide overseas development aid of 0.7 per cent of GNI,
(ii) state precisely what it regards as a fair and equitable contribution to the US$30 billion ‘fast start' financing for climate mitigation and adaptation,
(iii) make the climate funding additional to the overseas aid budget, and
(iv) state when and how this funding will be provided.
Senator Ludwig's statement regarding the motion
Senator LUDWIG (Queensland-Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (4.00 pm)-by leave-The Australian government does not support this motion. The government will deliver on its election promise to boost Australia's commitment to official development assistance funding to 0.5 per cent of gross national income by 2015-16. We retain the 0.7 per cent ratio as an aspirational goal.
The government is taking a measured approach to scaling up the aid program, ensuring at every stage we are positioned to deliver assistance in a way that is balanced, effective and in the national interest.
On the issue of fast-start financing, Australia will contribute its fair share of the collective fast-start financing commitment made in Copenhagen in December 2009.
This is part of our continuing commitment to supporting developing countries, particularly the smallest and most vulnerable, in their efforts to respond to climate change. We have previously outlined Australia's total fast-start contribution of $599 million over the period 2010 to 2012. The government's 2010-11 budget boosted Australia's contribution to climate financing by $355 million across the fast-start period. This builds on the $244 million in existing funding. For Australia, as for all other major donors, official development assistance will be the source of almost all climate change financing for developing countries during the fast-start period.
The new budget measures which provide additional financing in 2011-12 and 2012-13 draw funds from a growing aid program and do not involve diversion of funds from other development priorities.
That the motion (Senator Milne's) be agreed to.