Thank you, Bula Vinaka

And thank you Ambassador Khan.  Australia thanks Morocco for its successful Presidency, not least for the agreed work program to implement the Paris Agreement.

Australia pays tribute to the impressive leadership Fiji is bringing to its COP 23 Presidency – a first for a small island state and one with a distinct Pacific consciousness.

This region of small developing island states, or large Ocean states as we also like to say, faces particularly acute challenges from climate change - in some cases - possibly their very survival.

Some of our communities are the most vulnerable, not only from coastal erosion or inundation but also extreme weather events like cyclones - such as the devastating Cyclone Winston in Fiji last year. 

COP 23 must speak to impacted communities; demonstrate the world is taking the required action and help communities adapt.

Every country has its stories of the increasing adverse impacts of climate change, underlining the imperative to act.

For Australia, an example is the Great Barrier Reef, which is roughly the size of Germany or Japan.  The reef is recognised for its universal value and contributes nearly $7 billion a year to nearby communities.

In the past two years bleaching events have killed nearly half its shallow water corals, an early warning of threats. 

To make COP23 a success, we must send the strongest possible signal of continued global commitment to action against climate change: implementation of the historic Paris Agreement.

We need to maintain political momentum.  We are in a strong collective position, with over 160 ratifications.

Australia is committed to the Paris Agreement: we exceeded our Kyoto I commitments, we are on track to meet and beat our Kyoto II commitments, and we are committed to our ambitious 2030 targets while also delivering continued economic growth.

The Australian people are taking up the challenge with practical action: about 17 per cent of Australian households have rooftop solar panels, amongst the highest in the world.

And last week Australia launched the National Carbon Offset Standards for Buildings and Precincts, enabling building owners to calculate and reduce emissions, and purchase carbon offsets to achieve net zero carbon. We did this in hand with industry.

Australia is also committed to providing support for those countries in need to take action on climate change.

We have committed AUD1 billion in climate finance, including AUD300 million for the Pacific and we are integrating climate finance across our development priorities.

We must work together to enhance the volume, efficiency and effectiveness of climate finance and support, including by leveraging private sector investment.

For example, a proposed Green Climate Fund facility will combine $250 million of GCF funds with $500 million from a consortium that is expected to leverage around $30 billion of private sector investments in renewables.  And we need to do more of this.

As co-chair of the green climate fund, Australia is proud of our role in ensuring significant resources flow to Pacific Island Countries. Over USD270 million, or around 11 per cent of funds, have been allocated to the Pacific.

But with any new body there are teething issues. But for its short life the GCF has achieved a lot, and at the last board meeting approved a simplified approval process, which will ease access to the GCF resources for members like Small Island States.

This year we must deliver an effective design of the Facilitative - or rather Talanoa Dialogue - to ensure the high-level political discussion at COP24 propels further global action.

I commend Fiji for bringing traditional regional dialogue - to the design of the Talanoa Dialogue and COP 23 more broadly.

Success for COP 23 will also mean demonstrable progress on the agreed Work Program for the Paris Agreement, toward completion of the package by its mandated delivery date of 2018.

Paris balances the need for common obligations, an approach that considers evolving individual national circumstances, and the provision of support to those countries in need of assistance.

We must resist any attempt to “re-litigate” the Agreement, or to slide back to the bifurcated world of the Kyoto protocols.

Strong guidance for mitigation actions will provide certainty and increase global confidence for investment, supported by a framework that facilitates finance flows and encourages resilience.

We need an iterative pathway to negotiating text and we must avoid undue complexity, such as unwieldy compilation texts.

We should operationalise the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform. Securing a strong outcome on the gender action plan must be a priority.

Together with Fiji, we look forward to welcoming all Heads of Delegation at a breakfast tomorrow to recognise and support the leading role of women in driving solutions to climate change.

I commend Fiji for consulting with the region and beyond to highlight “legacy themes” for COP23 linked to the action agenda. We support the greater focus on oceans and climate change - we will bring Australian actions in this area to COP23.

Our determination across this agenda will ensure COP 23 is a success so that we maintain momentum on the Paris Agreement and our collective target of a temperature rise well below 2 degrees and pursuit of 1.5 degrees.

Thank you Madam Chair.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7110
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555