Australia ‘isn’t daunted by climate challenge’ but will spend $1 billion to help its Pacific neighbours build climate resilience

PARIS (France) – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia will not be “daunted” by the challenge of climate change, saying he is confident human ingenuity can help secure the future.

Australia has rejected a statement of support for reform of fossil fuel subsidies after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a last-minute call to break the news to New Zealand counterparts on Sunday night in Paris.

The COP21 communiqué aimed to eliminate inefficient subsidies for coal, gas and oil that keep prices artificially low.

The rejection of the fossil fuel pledge came after politicians from Australia’s Nationals party, who tend to represent rural areas, lobbied against it, ABC News reported.

“Our agreement in Paris must provide a common platform for action. Australia is not daunted by the challenge. With great optimism and faith in humanity’s genius for invention, we are confident that with collective leadership we will, with common cause, secure our future.”

Australia will spend at least $1 billion to help its Pacific neighbours build climate resilience

The Prime Minister also announced Australia’s aid spending will increasingly focus on tackling climate change, with at least $1 billion over the next five years to help its Pacific neighbours build climate resilience and reduce emissions.

There is also a doubling of funding for research and development into renewable energy, with universities to get $200 million over five years.

“We believe that we have, as a global community, as humanity, the ability to innovate, to imagine the technologies that will enable us to make these big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Turnbull told the Paris gathering.

“Some of the most vulnerable nations are our Pacific neighbours and we are helping them to build resilience through practical action and assistance,” the Prime Minister said.

“To this end, Australia will contribute at least $1 billion over the next five years from our existing aid budget both to build climate resilience and reduce emissions.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) said he was not daunted by the challenges ahead. (Photo: AFP/Christophe Ena)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) said he was not daunted by the challenges ahead. (Photo: AFP/Christophe Ena)

In his COP21 address, Turnbull said Australia would ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. He also pledged that the government would contribute at least A$1 billion (US$723 million) out of the aid budget over the next five years to build climate resilience among Pacific nations. “Australia is not daunted by the challenge. With great optimism and faith in humanity’s genius for invention,” he said.

Australia has also joined the U.S. and other countries in committing to double its clean energy investment as part of a new initiative, Mission Innovation.

The Australian government’s current emissions reduction target is 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Based on reporting by AAP, ABC News, The Australian, SMH