Rural and regional communities can win from policies that address climate change, according to the European Union’s top diplomat in Australia.
- The EU ambassador believes there are opportunities for communities that adopt climate policies
- Australia has refused to back a net zero emissions target by 2050
- The UN will host a major climate summit in Glasgow in November
EU Ambassador to Australia Michael Pulch told Landline that regional communities in Europe are adjusting to a de-carbonised economy and there are opportunities for rural Australians to benefit too.
The European Commission has established its Just Transition program which it said would “transition the EU towards a climate-neutral economy … in a fair way, leaving no one behind”.
The fund is being rolled out until 2027, but Dr Pulch said it has already helping affected economies to adjust.
“We have a very generous budget for that in our climate change package of around $100 billion, and this package is being used to mitigate the impact to rural communities affected by our transitioning in terms of re-skilling the labour force, encouraging new investments, restructuring the economy,” Dr Pulch said.
Dr Pulch also said Australia could take a more positive approach to Europe’s climate policies, including its decision to implement tariffs on heavy carbon emitters under its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).
“For instance, if carbon price and carbon use is so important, Australia will have a competitive advantage if it uses its renewable industry to produce in the sectors that are targeted by our CBAM policy which is iron ore, steel, cement, fertiliser, aluminium, and electricity.”
Referring to research from the Australian Industry Group, Dr Pulch said this way “Australia could have a competitive advantage”.
Australia has refused to introduce a net zero emission by 2050 target with government coalition partner The Nationals arguing any new policy must not come at the expense of rural communities.
That is despite major industry groups including the National Farmers’ Federation backing a net zero 2050 target.
Regardless of the government’s policies, Dr Pulch believes regional Australians are already changing the way they do business.
“I think it is already part of the discussion in Australia that you have to work with rural communities, communities that are affected, in order to make it possible to go through that phase and to support them along the way,” Dr Pulch said.
The ambassador said he had been talking to farmers across Australia and could see many embracing climate friendly practices.
“I am amazed how forward looking their policies are already,” he said.
The ambassador’s remarks come as the UN prepares to host a major climate summit in Glasgow in November.
Global leaders are expected to use the conference to discuss a response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report that issued a “code red for humanity”.