Commonwealth leaders attending the CHOGM Meeting in Malta last weekend agreed to set up a climate change hub to facilitate access to funds for the small and poor countries to reduce green house gas emissions. This decision came days before world leaders meet at the crucial climate change summit in Paris aiming for the ambitious goal of reaching an agreement for significantly limiting global warming.
Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said the leaders have also decided to set up a new mechanism to help poor countries manage debt accrued on climate management. He said the details of the new set-up were still being worked out. He said various island nations and small countries were facing difficulty in securing financial support to reduce green house gas emissions and the hub would provide funds to them. “These small states are often told about money but none of them know the number to dial,” Mr. Sharma, the outgoing Secretary-General, said adding the hub will make “climate finance, a reality.”
Australian Support to Commonwealth Initiatives on CVE, Climate Finance, Education and Elections
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta last Saturday, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Australia’s support for four key Commonwealth initiatives:
- Australia will provide $2.5 million over five years to help fund a new Commonwealth Unit in the Commonwealth Secretariat dedicated to countering extremism and radicalisation. This will strengthen the ability of Commonwealth countries to counter the extremist narrative. A team of experts will be seconded into the Commonwealth Secretariat to build expertise in tackling the common threat we are all facing from violent extremism, and foreign fighters.The Unit will work with civil society networks and Commonwealth governments to develop counter-extremism resources, especially building up technical counter-terrorism expertise.
- Australia will provide $1 million to support the new Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, based in Mauritius, to help small island developing and least-developed states to effectively access existing climate funds. These countries have asked for assistance in accessing the climate finance they need to effectively deal with climate change and develop investment-ready projects.
- Australia will fund the second phase of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Junior Election Professionals Initiative with $1 million. This initiative will help train election officials across the Commonwealth in more effectively managing election processes.This Australian contribution will further strengthen the Commonwealth’s election monitoring effort.
- Australia will increase its funding to the Commonwealth of Learning with $1 million in 2015-16 to support a range of projects aimed at improving access to education in Commonwealth countries, especially for girls, including through distance and open learning.
Prime Minister Turnbull also participated in a breakfast hosted by Prime Minister Cameron and President Khama of Botswana to discuss practical ways the Commonwealth can support efforts by member countries to tackle corruption, as well an event to highlight progress on the Global Polio Eradication initiative to which Australia has contributed $36 million over four years.
Joint Press Conference – CHOGMThe following is the full transcript of what Mr Turnbull said at the Press Conference last Saturday
PRIME MINISTER TURNBULL:
Thank you very much. The Prime Minister of Malta mentioned the new unit set up in the Commonwealth Secretariat dedicated to countering extremism and radicalisation. Australia is providing $2.5 million over five years to that. So we are supporting that, as well as the United Kingdom.
This is really focused on a key theme of the discussions here at CHOGM and indeed at other leader’s meetings I’ve attending in the last few weeks, which is finding better means to counter the extremist narrative. As David Cameron points out – he’s quite right – not all extremism ends up with violent extremism, not all violent extremism begins there. So, understanding what is attracting young people – they’re mostly young people – to extremist ideologies, grappling with that and promoting a culture, which is very consistent of course with the culture of the Commonwealth of mutual respect, is absolutely critical.
It’s also important in a field like this which is so dynamically driven in online media to be able to respond quickly and to learn from the experiences of others because everyone’s trying to do the same thing and this is where collaboration, whether it’s the law enforcement side, or if what you might call the social and cultural side is absolutely critical.
Australia is also providing $1 million to support the new Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which the Prime Minister of Mauritius will speak about in a moment. And this is designed to provide assistance for small island developing and less developed states to effectively access climate funds. In other words, to get their projects into investable or financeable form – that’s going to be a very important capacity building exercise.
And I should also note that we – Australia – will be funding the second phase of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Junior Election Professionals initiative. One of the greatest strengths of the Commonwealth, Secretary-General, is governance and nowhere more so than in its supervision of elections and so ensuring that we keep building the capacity of election officials across the Commonwealth is critical.
And, finally, the Prime Minister of Malta made the point about education of young people, in particular education of young women. The Commonwealth of Learning is a great Commonwealth initiative and which aims to improve access to education – especially for girls – through distance and open learning. And we will be providing another $1 million to support that as well.
So, this has been a very good CHOGM. I want to congratulate the Prime Minister and the Government of Malta for its very capable hosting and chairmanship of the CHOGM. And I believe that the leaders have focused on a number of key issues that he described, but have done so in a very constructive way with outcomes from those discussions that will enable better to collaborate for the common good in the years ahead.
QUESTION: David Cameron is speaking quite heavily in favour of air strikes on Syria. First question is whether you agree with this, second question is what the end game? What happens after ISIS is defeated? Is there any solution in Syria that involves the current President Bashar Al-Assad?
PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you. You asked about airstrikes in Syria. Australia has the second largest international military contribution to the fight against DAESH or ISIL and our air force is striking ISIL targets in Syria at the present time so we are already engaged. Mr Cameron’s Parliament is yet to authorise the Royal Airforce to strike targets in Syria and that’s why he’s seeking that support from his House of Commons at the moment.
QUESTION: Brett Mason from SBS Australia. Mr Turnbull there has been some international criticisms of Australia’s targets heading into COP21. We might not be able to reach the emissions that you suggested that the Opposition Leader has set but surely but surely we couldn’t do more? Canada yesterday committed $2.4 billion we’ve committed just $1 million.
PRIME MINISTER: You mentioned targets. You talked about Canada contributing two and a half billion dollars, this is over five years for Climate Finance Australia’s commitment is $1 billion, so $200 million a year. The Canadian announcement is a very recent one. Ours is a very substantial one. It is actually in line more or less with our share of global GDP by reference to the total amount sought by the UN as part of the COP. It’s substantial commitment none the less. In terms of the targets, the emission reductions targets we’re taking to Paris, I can understand that there are people who make the case they should be higher. There have been people who have argued that should be lower too by the way. So the Government after a lot of careful consideration struck a position which is a very reasonable one, it’s achievable there are many different ways you can measure these, you can assess these targets. In terms of a cut in emissions per head of population and recognising that it’s obviously easier to cut your emissions if your population is not growing, let alone declining, we have very strong population growth in Australia but on a per capita basis the cut in emissions we are committing to by 2030 in the second highest in the OECD. I think Brazil is offering a cut in emissions that is higher per head of population. So the Australian targets are very reasonable ones. They are ones we are satisfied we will achieve. We are going to, I spoke earlier about the COP21 process having a five year review mechanism built into it, as it should but for our own part, for our own domestic policy, which arguably is of concern only to Australians, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, the issue is the target, how we get there is our business but for our part we will be reviewing our progress of our emissions reduction strategies and climate policies in 2017, which is not very far away. So I can assure you that the Environment Minister and myself are both very committed to making sure that we meet the targets that we commit to in Paris and or such other targets as may be agreed in the future. You know Australia has, when Australia makes commitments to targets as we’ve done with the Kyoto targets, the first round of Kyoto targets and the second round, we have been, we have met those targets. So when we make commitments to meet targets of this kind we meet them.