24 May Japan pledges $AUD580 million in climate change aid to Pacific islands
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged Y55 billion ($AUD580 million) in climate change and disaster aid to Pacific Island nations battling sea level rise and natural disasters due to global warming at a two day meeting in Iwaki in northern Japan.
The aid will be provided over three years to help battle environmental disasters and facilitate access to clean water, renewable energy, waste management and related issues. Beneficiaries of the aid include Fiji, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and others dotted around the Pacific Ocean.
Abe stated that in order to face up to nature and better recover from disasters, nations must share their knowledge and experience while maintaining connections. He also expressed his gratitude to these nations for their assistance in Japan’s recovery of the remains of soldiers who died in World War 2. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that war.
Prime Minister Abe is keen to chart a new direction for Japan in the region economically and both in defence and diplomacy. It also wants to counter China’s growing prowess.
In December 2014, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced a $200 million contribution to the United Nations Green Climate Fund, to be payed over four years, will find projects in poorer countries. The Australian Government changed their initial stance and wanted to make a modest and proportionate commitment following a series of announcements from other nations. At the time, The Climate Institute’s Erwin Jackson commented that in the Institute’s opinion, Australia’s commitment fell short of a minimum of $350 million that was a fair contribution. Oxfam spokesman Ben Grossman-Cohen stated that it was a recognition of Australia’s responsibility to act, however given that $200 million was coming from aid funding, it wasn’t clear whether other projects would be cut to pay for their commitment.