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Taking action on conservation and climate

AUSSIE DIPLOMACY MATTERS - Steven J. Robinson (The Philippine Star) - April 22, 2021 - 12:00am

I am in Bukidnon this Earth Day to release a rescued and rehabilitated Philippine Eagle back to its forest home. The Australian embassy has supported the local government and Philippine Eagle Foundation on this important wildlife conservation project.

The magnificent nature of this region provides a poignant reminder of why we must respond to the global environmental challenges we all face, including climate change.

Whether here helping our friends in the Philippines or back home, Australia is committed to ambitious and practical actions to protect the environment and combat the impacts of climate change.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world, with the oldest living cultures and, like the Philippines, some of the richest biodiversity in the world. For over 65,000 years the traditional knowledge and practices of the First Australians, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, have preserved and protected Australia’s natural environment.

Australia has committed over A$15 billion to make our natural resources, environment and water infrastructure more resilient to climate disasters. This includes habitat regeneration, helping native animal recovery from disasters and building knowledge for better land management. By July 2021, Australia will establish a new information service, Climate and Resilience Services Australia, to inform national emergency management so we can better prepare for, and deal with, climate risks.

The Australian Government recognizes that climate change is the biggest long-term threat to the health of coral reefs worldwide, including those in the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s national iconic sites. Australia has committed over A$2.7 billion to the effective management and protection of the Great Barrier Reef. We have launched a 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 neighboring and global communities to tackle climate change. Australia has pledged at least A$1.5 billion over the period 2020 to 2025 for global climate finance to help our neighbors deploy renewable energy and improve their climate change and disaster resilience. We’re sharing our climate adaptation expertise, experiences and skills with the world.

In the Philippines, Australia is investing approximately A$18 million or P630 million in our Strengthening Institutions and Empowering Localities Against Disasters and Change or SHIELD program over 2021-2026, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The program will be implemented in ten Philippine provinces most vulnerable to disaster and climate change impacts and will support initiatives in Metro Manila and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). SHIELD aims to make all people in communities safer and more resilient to the impacts of disasters and climate change.

Australia has joined the Coalition for Climate Resilience Investment, which aims to shift private investment towards climate resilient infrastructure and support vulnerable communities to attract private sector investment. Additionally, 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.

Of course, adaptation action must go hand in hand with reducing emissions.

And Australia is getting on with the job.

We remain resolutely committed to the Paris Agreement and are on track to meet and beat our 2030 target, having reduced emissions by almost 17 percent since 2005. Our emissions have fallen faster than many other advanced economies or the OECD average.

Australia is aiming to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible.

To keep this momentum going, Australia has developed a Technology Investment Roadmap – a comprehensive plan to invest in the technologies we need to bring emissions down, here and around the world.

We are aiming to leverage A$70 billion of new investment in low emissions technologies by 2030. We’re focused on accelerating technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture use and storage, soil carbon, energy storage to back up renewables and decarbonize transport, and low or zero emissions steel and aluminium.

But whether we are responding to the challenges of conserving wildlife biodiversity or tackling climate change, we need to do it together.

Scientists tell us that even with the most ambitious global emissions reductions, we will still need practical, collective actions that will strengthen the resilience of our local environments.

So just as we have worked together to help the Philippine Eagle here in Bukidnon, we will continue to work with the Philippines and partners around the world to face environmental and climate challenges of the future.

*      *      *

Steven J. Robinson AO is the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines. Follow him on Twitter @AusAmbPH.

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