Australia: tackling climate change at home and abroad

By Joanne Cowley, Australian Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia.

On Australia Day 2021, Australians have reflected on events of the last year.

2020 was a year that tested the strength of our communities and the resilience of all countries.

It was a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Australians, 2020 started with the most devastating bushfires in our history. The service and sacrifices of Australians, and the lives lost, will never be forgotten.

The generosity of friends around the world, including the Federated States of Micronesia, in our hour of need was humbling.

Climate change is increasing the risk of bushfires.

To help us reduce the risk and impact of bushfires, droughts and other climate-related natural disasters, this year Australia will publish a new National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world, it has the oldest living cultures and some of the richest biodiversity in the world.

We are fortunate to be able to learn from the continuing connection of the First Australians, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, to their country.

For over 65,000 years their traditional knowledge and practices have preserved and protected Australia’s natural environment.

The recent bushfires demonstrated the importance of bringing together traditional Indigenous knowledge about the land with modern science.

Indigenous Rangers are on the frontline of this work, preserving and protecting Australia’s natural and cultural heritage. For example, using traditional fire management practices, through cool and controlled burns.

Australia has committed over $15 billion to make our natural resources, environment and water infrastructure more resilient to drought and climate disasters.

We are spending more than $2 billion on bushfire recovery efforts, supporting local communities to design their own economic, social and environmental recovery.

This includes the important job of regenerating habitats, helping native animals recover and building knowledge for better land management.

Climate change is also the biggest long-term threat to the health of coral reefs worldwide, including those in FSM and in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of our national icons.

Australia has committed $2.7 billion to the effective management and protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

We have also launched a $150 million Reef Restoration and Adaptation program that brings together world leading marine science to research strategies that can help reefs recover from bleaching events and to adapt to changing ocean temperatures.

Australia is also committed to supporting neighbouring and global communities to tackle climate change. 

Australia has pledged at least $1.5 billion over the period 2020 to 2025 for global climate finance. $500 million of this funding will directly help FSM and our other Pacific neighbours deploy renewable energy and improve their climate change and disaster resilience.

We’re sharing our climate adaptation expertise, experiences and skills with the world through our development program and the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific.

We are joining the Call for Action on Raising Ambition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience, to encourage greater ambition, finance and coordination to protect against growing climate risks.

And Australia has joined the Coalition for Climate Resilience Investment.

As the world recovers from the economic impact of COVID-19, we need investments that can both accelerate emissions reductions and support jobs and communities. 

We need to consider those most in need, engage all stakeholders equally and respect indigenous culture and knowledge in taking climate action.

Practical actions that help us adapt to those changes and strengthen the resilience of our local environments are critical.

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