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Economist blasts Australia at climate talks

Economist blasts Australia at climate talks

An Australian economist, Roderick Campbell, has criticised the Australian government's claims to be helping the Pacific with climate aid while subsidising a key source of climate change - Australia's coal industry.

Campbell has urged Pacific leaders to push for a moratorium on new coal mines (in line with the 2015 Suva Declaration) at this weeks Climate Action Pacific Partnership dialogue in Fiji.

Campbell, Research Director at The Australia Institute an influential Canberra-based research organisation, says, "the hypocrisy of Australia claiming to support the Pacific on climate while actually subsidising the root-cause problem is absolutely astonishing. The Australian Government is not currently committed to Climate Action, as they profess. Instead they practise with great experience, the art of climate distraction."

"Australia boasts about its role in international climate aid, but in reality, Australia is cutting its aid budget to all-time lows. Our current aid spending is just 0.2% of our national income and Pacific climate assistance is just 2% of that, around $75 million per year."

"In stark contrast, the Australian governments provides billions in subsidies to the Australian coal industry. Coal gets a $1 billion fuel tax break in Australia, while a giant new mine in Queensland is set to get a $1 billion subsidised loan and a $320 million royalty holiday."

"We are just pretending to address climate change while we're still building new coal mines, often at taxpayers' expense. It is that simple. A world addressing climate change needs less coal mines, not more."

"This year, Pacific leaders have a once in a generation chance, at COP23 in Bonn, to once again push for a global fossil fuel moratorium. Even just having a topic on the agenda within the negotiations, sends a powerful message to countries like Australia that they cannot continue with these damaging policies."

"Pacific leaders have great moral authority to discuss climate and coal in Australia. It's one thing we really listen to the Pacific on. When former Kiribati President Anote Tong came to Australia with the message that the Pacific wanted an end to new coal mines, it made front page news. The Pacific holds much more diplomatic power with Australia and our allies, than is currently being leveraged.

"There is recognition amongst Pacific leaders, through declarations such as the SAMOA pathway, that real transformative change, in the spirit of regional solidarity, will have to include moving away from conflicting foreign influence. On the matter of climate change action, it is obvious that Australia is attempting to use it's minimal funding as a smoke and mirror tactic."

Campbell will address the Climate Action Pacific Partnership delegates tomorrow on a panel organised by Pacific Island Climate Action Network, PICAN.

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