Australia will once again advice money into the United Nations-led Green Climate Fund, reversing the former Morrison government’s decision to withdraw from it in 2018.
- Australia to join UN climate fund for green projects in developing countries
- Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison withdrew Australia due to governance issues from the fund.
- Foreign Minister says despite previous concerns, Pacific countries want Australia to participate in fund
Foreign Minister Penny Wong confirmed Australia would make a “modest” contribution to the fund this year.
The climate fund receives donations from developed countries and uses that money to finance climate mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries.
It has raised more than $20 billion in two funding rounds since its launch in 2015, and while Australia contributed to the first round, it and the United States were absent from the second.
Funding includes both grants and concessional loans and is distributed by a council made up of developed and developing countries.
Projects funded in recent years include a $10 million solar project in Fiji and a $47 million project aimed at helping Tonga move away from its reliance on diesel-generated electricity.
But it has been criticized in the past for lacking clear direction and strategy, as well as politicizing board members’ decisions.
Some Pacific officials also lamented that it may be difficult to gain access to funding for the program.
However, it remains the fifth largest source of climate finance in the region – and a recent Lowy Institute report found that for every dollar Australia contributes to the fund it unlocked up to $1.60 in additional global climate finance.
The Morrison government cited governance issues with the fund when it made the decision to withdraw, arguing it would simply work directly with developing countries to help them build climate resilience.
A spokesperson for Ms Wong said Australia intended to work within the fund to drive change.
“Australia will join the Green Climate Fund, with a modest contribution to be announced before the end of the year,” the spokesperson said.
“We have taken into account feedback from our Pacific partners on the best ways to guide our climate finance efforts and ensure all elements meet Pacific priorities.
“We recognize that the GCF is the largest global climate finance fund, and we will work with partners to improve the effectiveness of the GCF.”
But they said they would also continue to work directly with countries on various projects.
“At the same time, Australia supports the Pacific’s transition to renewable energy and helps countries build climate resilience,” they said.
“We will continue to increase funding directly to the Pacific, building on our increased development assistance to the region.”
Experts welcome Australian presence ‘back in the room’
Some foreign policy experts have called for Australia to recommit to the Green Climate Fund, arguing it is still a vital mechanism to help developing countries combat climate change.
Roland Rajah, of the Lowy Institute, said the change in position was welcome and that even a “modest” contribution would be worth it.
“As long as the contribution is large enough to be credible, which I suspect it will be, it’s less about ‘how much’ and more about whether Australia is in the room,” he said. he declares.
“Taking a proactive approach to influencing the GCF and its members on key Australian priorities around access and efficiency in the Pacific Islands and other highly climate-vulnerable countries.
Some aid advocates welcomed the move, but say reinstating the fund risks reducing Australia’s existing foreign aid budget.
Cameron Hill, a senior fellow at the Development Policy Centre, wrote in a post on Australia’s World Cup unless the government finds new funding. .
In a statement, shadow foreign minister Simon Birmingham said the government must “ensure that funds diverted to the fund do not come at the expense of direct support for Pacific island nations”.
“The flaws and weaknesses of the Global Climate Fund are widely recognized, including by many countries most at risk from climate change,” he said.
“A key test of our re-membership will be whether Australia is able to use its membership to improve the focus and outcomes of the fund, particularly for the benefit of our regional partners in the Pacific.”