National Statement, High Level Segment at COP21

  • Speech, check against delivery
07 December 2015

Mr President

Climate change is a global problem that requires nations to work together towards a global solution.

In his address at the leaders' event last Monday, Australia's Prime Minister spoke of Australia's optimism, our commitment to gifting future generations the environmental and economic future they deserve, and our unwavering belief in human capacity and innovation.

Today in Australia, the Prime Minister launched a new National Innovation and Science agenda to place innovation at the heart of our economy by supporting and rewarding creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Australia will lead by example in the way we invest in and use technology and increase collaboration between businesses, universities and government.

It will be innovation and technological breakthroughs that will ultimately be the game changers in our climate change responses.

Australia met and exceeded our first commitment period target under the Kyoto Protocol. We will ratify the second commitment period, and we have set an ambitious 2030 target that will see us double the rate at which we reduce our emissions.

We are transforming the way we produce electricity. In 2001 we set the world's first mandatory renewable energy target and by 2020, nearly one-quarter of Australia's electricity will come from renewable sources.

Australia is taking strong and direct action at home, and we are playing our part abroad.

We will maintain a $200 million annual floor in our public climate finance to assist countries in our region, particularly the Pacific, to leverage further investment from the private sector.

We will continue to give priority to investment in effective adaptation action.

We have invested in climate resilience-related projects throughout the Pacific, from climate proofing large-scale infrastructure like roads, ports and bridges, through to community level village solar light projects. Our support helps to protect fresh water supplies in Kiribati, marine resources in Papua New Guinea, transport in the Solomon Islands, and crops in Fiji.

As co-chair of the Green Climate Fund, Australia will ensure vulnerable countries and communities can continue to access support.

I have announced that Australia will also contribute $5 million to the Climate Risk Early Warning System initiative, CREWS. This complements our ongoing work on warning systems in the Pacific to provide information, not otherwise available, on hazardous climatic events to protect lives, livelihoods and property in least developed countries.

Australia's provision of support following natural disasters stretches back many decades and we will continue to work directly with our Pacific partners to track climate trends, provide regional and country-specific climate projections, and improve understanding of ocean processes, ocean acidification and sea level rise.

We are also committed to ensuring a more influential role for women in driving solutions to climate change, including through promoting a greater role for women in the UNFCCC process and empowering women to play a leading role in their communities' response.

Australia believes that harnessing the talents and abilities of this and the next generation of female leaders is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do. Building on past programs, I am pleased to announce that Australia will contribute $625,000 in 2015-2017 to support the increased participation of women from our region in climate-related decision-making processes.

Mr President

We have seen an unprecedented display of collective commitment and ambition this year. Around 185 countries have submitted post-2020 targets, many quantifiable, many unconditional.

Experts tell us this has been a significant step forward. We are also well aware this will not yet be enough to stay well below the 2 degree goal. Five-yearly reviews of targets will allow countries to build on their efforts as technology develops and capacity grows.

A new agreement must harness this collective momentum, and promote further ambition and action by all countries over time.

Through improved transparency, we should have confidence that other countries are meeting their targets and will drive further efforts to meet our shared goal.

We need a strategy to build ambition and action over time. We will be successful in delivering a global agreement if we work together. The world is watching and demands nothing less.

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