Earth Day summit must catalyse global climate action

As the Earth Day Summit begins, Oxfam is calling for President Biden, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and other world leaders attending the virtual summit to urgently ramp up ambition to tackle the climate crisis.

The poorest half of the world’s population -3.1 billion people- is responsible for just a small fraction of dangerous carbon emissions. Yet, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people -those with fewest resources and who have done the least to cause the problem- who are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. The richest 10 percent of people in the world, on the other hand, produced over half of global emissions.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said the situation was unfair and nations such as Australia needed to step up and play their part to respond to the crisis.

“Those who have contributed least to the crisis are the most at threat – women, youth, First Peoples, our neighbours in the Pacific, and those already experiencing poverty. They also have the least power and resources to reverse the crisis. This is not fair. It’s time to change this by putting fairness at the centre of our climate change response.”

She said the Government had so far failed to recognise the magnitude of resources people require globally to help them adapt to and avoid the devastating impacts of climate change.

“To make up for years of inaction, Australia must take urgent and inclusive action that transforms systems and institutions to address the climate crisis, and that works for marginalised communities,” said Lyn Morgain. “Climate change and inequality are two sides of the same coin and the Earth Day Summit must only be the starting point for tackling these crises together.”

Ms Morgain said the needs of the most vulnerable must be at the heart of both the Earth Day Summit and the Australian Government’s climate agenda.

“Australia continues to contribute to the climate crisis through consuming and selling coal, oil, and gas both here and overseas. It’s time for Australia to be a leader again and resume its contributions to the Green Climate Fund – the major global fund helping vulnerable countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“Ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow, Australia and other rich countries must deliver stronger commitments, including significant reductions in global emissions, and scaling up financial support to vulnerable countries that are not only the least responsible for the climate crisis, but also the least equipped to cope with it.”

As scientists warn of a race against time to limit temperature rises and adapt to an already changing climate, she said hard lessons must also be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The world has witnessed the consequences of inaction with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and millions pushed into precarity and hunger.

“Australia must not ignore the lessons of the pandemic; we must put tackling the twin climate and inequality crises at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery, and this should be recognised in the Government’s upcoming budget,” added Ms Morgain.

“This is the time for bigger, bolder action that will deliver a more resilient and dignified future where everyone can thrive -not just survive.”

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