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Chris Bowen speech to COP27 on Australia’s new climate ambition, COP31 bid and global financial institution reform

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen delivered a speech to COP27 High Level Segment today highlighting the new government’s actions so far but also indicating there was so much more to do. 

He articulated Australia’s bid to co-host with Pacific Nations COP31 in 2026. Turkey is also bidding for that COP.. Czechia and Brazil are reported to be candidate countries for COP29 (2024) and COP30 (2025)

He also identified that global financial institutions and multilateral banks need to be reformed to support the new paradigm of a changing climate and developing countries needing to be sustainably supported in their mitigation and adaptation challenges.

The Guardian has already reported on an advanced copy of the speech. The Climate Council response is below the speech transcript.

I hope the Minister has a chance to meet Mia Motley, Prime Minister of Barbados, to discuss reformation of global financial institutions.

Full transcript: Chris Bowen Speech to COP27

In Ngay Mina Koey Ubilnga ya muliz Australia Pa.

That means I have the priviledge of speaking to you on behalf of Australia in one of the languages of the people of the Torres Strait, the islands that run to the north east of our country.

The people of the Torres Strait have inhabited their lands for 70,000 years. For them, for our brothers and sisters in the Pacific family, for our farmers paying the price of climate change, for Australians facing ever increasing risks of flood and bushfire, for everyone around the world facing natural disasters that are increasingly unnatural, Australia is acting. For them the world must act.

Australia is back, as a constructive, positive and willing climate collaborator.

One of our first acts on coming to Government was to increase our emissions reduction target to 43 percent by 2030 in our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and to enshrine that law in the law of the land.

Within this decade 82 percent of our electricity supply will be renewable. The future of energy is renewable, not just for Australia but it must be for the world. And it is urgent that we accelerate the renewables transformation this decade. Such a transformation is both a challenge and an opportunity, but mostly it is fundamentally necessary if we are to have any hope of success in mitigating climate change.

That is why it is so important that we send the message from this COP loud and clear. We remain committed to last year’s commitment to hold the world as close as possible to 1.5 degrees of warming, and we must embrace a faster and more orderly transition to renewable energy as part of these efforts.

The cost of letting these priorities fall to the wheyside is too great. 

Climate change is the primary economic and security challenge for our region and an existential threat to the Blue Pacific Continent. That is why we are boosting assistance to the region with an additional $900 million to support our Pacific families resilience in dealing with the climate emergency. And that is why along with Pacific nations we are seeking to host COP31 in 2026.

Pacific voices have lead this debate for decades and they must be heard.

Unfortunately we know the story of our region, the story we will tell if the world fails to act. From island communities facing the fight for their existence to towns and cities battling ever more intense bushfires and floods. Our co-hosting will seek to accelerate climate action and harness opportunities of the clean energy transition. 

While Australia has increased our ambition we know that there is much more to do. That is why just as this COP is focussing on ambition and implementation, Australia’s Government is focussing on real emissions reduction as well. Through our $20 billion fund to transform our energy grid and many other policies. 

While we talk of risks of climate change we also need to talk about the immense economic opportunities that come with action. And Australia wants to be a renewable energy superpower.

In coming weeks I’ll be delivering Australia’s first climate statement in parliament. A comprehensive and transparent stocktake of how we are tracking against our NDC and how we’ll make further progress. Because the urgency from which we must act requires frank conversations about where we are now, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. 

Collectively, we have just 85 months to acheive our 2030 targets. We all know this is the critical decade and that means national action but it also means more multilateral action, and action by every single one of our institutions.

Our international financial institution architecture was built for a different time and different challenges. Some of our financial institutions are stepping up to this task, our most important global job. But others are not. Just as we commit to this agenda as individual nations, our multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, must be wholeheartedly committed to this task from their purpose to their actions. We have a moral imperative and a driving need for our institutions to work the countries across the developed and developing world, not only to reduce emissions but to respond to a changing climate and its economic impact on nations.

That will mean increasing funding spent on climate and also ensuring such funding doesn’t saddle developing countries with unsustainable debt. This fight cannot be done by one nation. All emitters past, present and future have a responsibility to act. We must drive an inclusive climate agenda.

I reaffirm Australia’s commitment to ambitious and necessary change and pledge to be a strong and constructive partner along the way.

Thank you

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Response from the Climate Council:

Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor and economist, who is in Egypt at COP27, said: 

“While the Minister’s acknowledgement of the terrible costs of climate change and his commitment to keeping 1.5°C alive are welcome, these are just words.

“In his speech, the Minister has side-stepped the critical need to phase out Australia’s fossil fuels and step up its commitment to global climate finance. This is a missed opportunity and leaves several critical gaps in Australia’s climate policy armoury. 

“There are three days left of COP27 and while some positive commitments have been made, it is not too late for Australia to do more. The Government really needs to ramp up its ambition to demonstrate to the world it is ready to be a leader on climate.”

Dr Simon Bradshaw, Climate Council Research Director, who’s attended seven COPs including COP27, said: 

“The fact that the government has not yet supported the establishment of a new loss and damage finance facility – a key priority for the Pacific – has not gone unnoticed.

“The Australian Government is eager for Australians, Pacific Islanders and indeed the world to support its bid to host COP31, but needs to do more to move beyond coal and gas and to support vulnerable communities in coping with the impacts of climate change.

“Minister Bowen is right that we need reform of international financial systems in order to drive the world’s energy transformation, but there are many opportunities for Australia to lead on this front. Committing this week to end international finance for fossil fuels, by signing the Glasgow Statement, would be a good start.

“As revealed in this week’s Climate Change Performance Index, Australia still trails most other developed economies. In addition to refusing to start curbing coal and gas production, the Government is yet to provide anything close to a fair share of international climate finance – a fact that was called out by the European Union.” 

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