The Green Climate Fund was formally established in 2010 and is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Its mission is to aid developing countries in lowering their greenhouse gas emissions while adapting to the impacts of climate change, and it is meant to be funded by already-developed countries that have spent the last 100 years burning fossil fuels.
During a 2013 UN climate meeting in Warsaw, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, “We’re not going to be making any contributions to that.”
The PM, who has referred to climate change science as “crap,” has also called the GCF “socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”
For those familiar with Australia’s new man in charge, this will not be surprising.
Abbott was the man behind the repeal of Australia’s progressive carbon tax, which subsequently caused carbon emissions in his country to skyrocket and dropped its ranking on the Climate Change Performance Index by 21 places. The country now tops the bottom five least climate-oriented countries in the developed world. This sits just fine with the current Australian government, which is putting climate change on the back burner while it considers the approval of nine mega coal mines in Queensland and three large-scale gas projects in Western Australia. But all is not lost. The government is currently reconsidering its plans to dump dredge waste on the Great Barrier Reef.
Investing money in the GCF has been the least of Australia’s concerns. Abbott has compared the fund to a “Bob Brown bank on an international scale,” referring to a domestic Clean Energy fund supported by Bob Brown, the leader of Australia’s Green party. Abbott wants to shut it down.
Last month, when Australia hosted the annual G20 meeting, Abbott refused to put climate change on the agenda. U.S. President Barack Obama brought it up anyway and announced that his country was pledging $2.5 billion to the GCF.
Australia remained implacable.
“There’s been a fair bit of range from disappointment to absolute outrage at the fact that Australia hasn’t contributed to the Green Climate Fund,” Erwin Jackson of the Climate Institute told the Sydney Morning Herald. “For a very wealthy country and for a country that it’s in its natural interest to help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, that’s sort of seen with a high level of disbelief.”
Therefore, Abbott has made a profound aboutface in his willingness to donate $200 million to the GCF over the next four years. That was the announcement yesterday with Abbott telling the press that, no matter his “various comments some time ago” (last year), it is now the time for his country to be a “good international citizen.”
The GCF’s goal is to provide $100 billion in public and private resources to the world’s developing nations by 2020.
Australia’s four-year investment represents 0.2 percent of that goal.