COP21: Two Degrees Of Preparation

02/12/2015 1:26 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
From the left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, French President Francois Hollande, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet attend the 'Mission Innovation: Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution' meeting at the COP2, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Monday, Nov. 30 2015. (Ian Langsdon, Pool photo via AP)

Forty thousand people have travelled across the world to try to secure a safe climate for our future. It was pretty incredible to arrive in Paris and walk through bustling crowds of thousands of delegates fighting for the same thing I am -- an end to dangerous, toxic pollution and a safe world for my daughter to live in.

The unofficial theme of COP21 in Paris is high hopes and high ambition

The French President has been congratulated for his courage in hosting the talks after devastating terrorist attacks the fortnight before. President Obama called it an act of defiance against terrorism. The French people gathered in their own act of defiance in the streets en masse on Sunday to protest the ban on assemblies. They called for a safe climate future, and for us not to be distracted from the urgent and high-stakes task at hand -- to secure an agreement that will keep global warming below 2 degrees.

There could be no starker contrast than that between the actions of the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the 43 countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, who have taken up the theme of hope and ambition.

As the world stepped up their generosity and stepped up their ambition to cut dangerous pollution, Prime Minister Turnbull ruled out any immediate increase in Australia's pathetic pollution reduction targets.

To add insult to injury, despite Australia recently being appointed co-chair of the Green Climate Fund, Turnbull announced a pitiful contribution towards helping the world's most vulnerable countries cope with the impacts of global warming. Not only is it out of step with the rest of the world, but it is out of step with the generosity of the Australian people.

We know that Australians are some of the most generous people in the world when tragedy strikes our communities. After the Queensland floods, 67,000 people volunteered for the clean up -- the greatest number of people ever, anywhere in the world, to respond to a natural disaster by offering to help. But, despite the rest of the world stepping up their contributions to climate finance, we didn't see any of that Australian generosity from our Prime Minister yesterday.

Compare this to the courage, hope and determination of the 43 countries most vulnerable to climate impacts on the planet. I had the privilege of sitting in the High Level Forum of Climate Vulnerable Countries and listening to them call for the full decarbonisation of the world's economy to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Delegates from each country spoke about the work they were doing on the ground to protect their communities from the impacts of global warming that they are already feeling. They spoke about their hopes for the countries and their cultures that are under threat.

The President of the Philippines described the 43 countries individually as 'survivors', but collectively as a force for a fairer, more climate-proactive world. And they would know. Like Australia, the Phillippines is no stranger to the devastation of natural disasters. At the global climate talks just two years ago, the lead negotiators of the Philippines pleaded with the world to "stop the madness" as Typhoon Haiyan ripped his country apart.

Global warming is not an abstract problem, it requires real and urgent action. Newsflash, PM Turnbull -- "real and urgent action" is not announcing a $100 million contribution to clean energy research when your government has already slashed over triple that amount of our research and development funding.

Real and urgent action is striving for a 100 percent renewable energy powered future by 2040. It is transitioning away from coal and embracing the opportunities that clean energy brings. It is making real contributions to our global efforts and giving our fair share of $550 million to climate financing for poorer and more vulnerable countries.

We have an opportunity here in Paris to step up and take our place amongst the rest of the world striving to cut dangerous pollution and stabilising global warming. But that requires the Prime Minister to break away from Tony Abbott's destructive climate policies, and to embrace a science-based and ambitious plan to embrace a clean energy future.

You've got a week and a half to change your mind and dump Tony Abbott's climate policies. The world's watching, Prime Minister. Are you up to the challenge?

More On This Topic