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Friday, 08 June 2012 12:25

Australia's climate change responsibilities

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14 October 2009

The Hon Kevin Rudd
Prime Minster
Parliament House

Hon. Prime Minister

I write to you on behalf of some 8000 members of Catholic Religious Orders in Australia.

As we come closer to negotiations in Copenhagen in December, we believe that it is imperative that any agreement made between countries will assist the developing world to participate in a meaningful manner.  Firstly, I want to thank the Federal Labor Government for the hundreds of millions of dollars both given and pledged to a range of mechanisms intended to assist developing countries to adapt to climate change and to mitigate their carbon emissions.

However it is vital that the Government respond far more vigorously to the urgency of climate change and to the needs of people in developing countries, who are suffering the earliest impacts of climate change and who are set to suffer most from a problem which they did not create.

We, in the developed world, have disproportionately used the earth's atmospheric space. As Australians specifically are among those with the highest per capita carbon emissions, we owe it to the poor of the world to radically reduce our emissions and to assist them to adapt to a new approach. This is a matter of justice.

I urge the Government firstly to take strong action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by:
adopting emissions reduction targets of 25 - 40 % of 1990 levels by 2020;
phasing out the use of coal;
increasing domestic financial incentives for the expansion of energy generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind.

Secondly, regarding financing of adaptation and mitigation in developing countries:
The scale of funding must match the needs of developing countries and the amount contributed by each donor should be proportional to their level of responsibility for the problem. This means that Australia should vastly scale up its contributions to somewhere between A$1.7 billion to A$4.3 billion annually by 2013, this being new and additional to overseas aid;
The funding should be disbursed through UNFCCC mechanisms;
The Government should provide funding for technology transfer so that it is accessible, especially to the least developed countries, not only to countries where there is a capacity to pay.

These concrete actions would constitute a genuinely just, compassionate and scientifically sound response by the Australian Government to the challenges presented by climate change.

If we are to protect the earth's capacity to provide for the vulnerable majority and for future generations, nations like ours, must act promptly and in accordance with the science. Without such action by developed countries, the talks at Copenhagen could easily stall and not lead to an equitable global agreement.

I commend you on the leadership you are taking in this important global matter and ask you to take a strong stance to support the developing world in these negotiations.

Yours sincerely


Sister Clare Condon SGS
Catholic Religious Australia.