National statement - United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit

  • Speech, E&OE

Thank you co-chairs, Australia welcomes the opportunity to speak here today. I congratulate the Secretary-General on this Summit, and hope it builds momentum towards delivering a global and enduring climate agreement in 2015.

In the spirit of the Summit, I will outline the practical climate change actions that Australia is taking at home and abroad.

Australia remains committed to reducing its emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

This is a bipartisan target. It is an ambitious target because it means that Australia will reduce its emissions by 22 per cent against business as usual levels. This compares well to the targets of other major economies.

Australia is taking serious domestic action to meet this target. We have committed significant funds – $2.55 billion – to an Emissions Reduction Fund. The Fund is the centrepiece of our Direct Action Plan.

The Fund will provide incentives for emissions reduction technologies and activities across a range of sectors, including:

  • upgrading commercial buildings;
  • improving industrial and household energy efficiency;
  • capturing emissions from landfills; and
  • reducing waste gas from coal mines.

Projects in these sectors, and others, will deliver real and immediate environmental benefits. The Fund will unleash innovation in the economy and create new opportunities for economic growth with lower environmental impacts. We must strive to produce base load energy with low environmental impacts through technological advances.

In taking action at home, we are recognising Australia is responsible for around 1.5 per cent of global emissions. All countries need to act – especially the world's biggest emitters.

Australia will consider its post 2020 target as part of the review we will conduct in 2015 on Australia's international targets and settings. This review will consider the comparable actions of others, including the major economies and Australia's trading partners.

We are striking the responsible balance of safeguarding economic growth while taking action on climate change.

Co-chairs, Australia has a strong track record of supporting climate action internationally.

Between 2010 and 2013, Australia delivered around $600 million to support developing countries to respond to climate change. And we are continuing to play our part.

We have placed sustainable economic growth at the heart of our

$5 billion aid program to alleviate poverty. A significant part of Australia's aid is invested in programs in the Pacific. This includes helping Pacific countries build resilience to climate related shocks and manage the impacts of climate change.

We are also helping countries improve the measurement and reporting of emissions, including working with Indonesia to improve its National Carbon Accounting System.

And we are helping countries design and implement low-emissions development strategies. This has included support to South Africa in building efficient homes that save energy costs and avoid locking in carbon intensive infrastructure.

Australia is pleased to join the Declaration on phasing down hydrofluorocarbons, 'HFCs'. HFCs are powerful greenhouse gasses, and if growth in their use is left unchecked, they could account for nearly 20 per cent of global emissions by 2050.

Alternatives are available, alternatives that reduce emissions, deliver energy efficiency gains and save money. And if we act now, we can stop many countries ever using damaging HFCs at all.

The Montreal Protocol is the logical forum to take action. It has worked with industry to reduce emissions of ozone depleting substances, and has the expertise to phase down HFCs.

In working with other countries, Australia is focused on practical climate action in our region.

Rainforests are invaluable sources of biodiversity and sinks of greenhouse gas emissions. But rainforest clearing presents a challenge to effective climate action. Deforestation accounts for around 12 per cent of annual global emissions.

There is rapid rainforest loss in Australia's region. In Southeast Asia alone, 11 million hectares of rainforest have been lost in the last decade. This is roughly equivalent to losing an area the size of Manhattan Island every two days for ten years.

Australia is working with our neighbours to reverse this worrying trend. To this end, Australia's Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt, will host an Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Sydney on 12 November.

The Summit will bring together political leaders and leaders of major corporations and civil society to consider practical ways to protect rainforests. Areas for potential progress include helping countries to use satellite data to monitor land use; and helping the private sector to reduce deforestation in the production of consumer goods.

Co-chairs, Australia is taking practical steps at home and abroad. We are committed to working with other countries to find practical solutions to the climate challenge. We look forward to an enduring global climate change agreement being.

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