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ASEAN-Australia Special Summit must address climate crisis in the region: Oxfam

Oxfam Australia 2 mins read

As the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-Australia Special Summit commences this week in Melbourne, Oxfam is calling for the Australian government and other world leaders attending to ramp up ambition to tackle the climate crisis in the region, beginning with an urgent phase out of Australia’s massive coal and gas exports, and an increase in climate finance flows to support the energy transition in the region. 

Southeast Asia's energy demand has increased by an average of 3% a year over the past two decades, and is projected to double by 2050. Australia is a substantial supplier of the region's resource needs - almost $31 billion in exports, excluding crude petroleum in 2022 - and is expected to remain a long-term energy security partner for Southeast Asia.  

Countries in the region have long been calling for countries like Australia to support ASEAN countries to respond to climate impacts and transition their economies away from fossil fuels. ASEAN member countries are some of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with floods, droughts and storms wreaking havoc across the region and leaving women, Indigenous communities and vulnerable groups displaced and devastated. However, Australia continues to export coal and gas to the region and deliver climate finance well below its fair share.  

As the world's third largest exporter of coal and gas, Australia bears high responsibility for accelerating the climate crisis. Australia and its fossil fuel exports are amplifying carbon emissions, and keeping ASEAN countries locked into dangerous, fossil fuel-dependent futures, instead of leading Just Energy Transition efforts both here and in the region.   

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said nations such as Australia needed to step up and play their part to respond to the climate crisis. 

“Those who have contributed least to the crisis are the most at threat – women, youth, Indigenous peoples, our neighbours in the region. This is not fair. It’s time to change this by putting fairness at the centre of our climate change response. 

“The path ahead will be challenging, but it is an imperative choice. The negative impacts of staying invested in coal and gas exports will be much higher. It is time for Australia to redirect its trajectory, become a renewable energy leader and a long-term Just Energy Transition partner for ASEAN, rather than a peddler of outdated and dangerous energy sources,” she said. 

Oxfam is calling for Australia to stop all new fossil fuel projects immediately. They are also asking the Australian government to:  

  • Commit to an urgent phase out of Australia’s massive coal and gas exports to ASEAN and transition to become a leader in sustainable renewable energy.  
  • Stop subsidising fossil fuels and redirect these resources for climate action including adaptation and support for a Just Energy Transition in Australia and ASEAN. 
  • Provide new and additional climate finance to support climate-vulnerable ASEAN countries respond to the impacts of climate change and accelerate the energy transition process.  
  • Increase transparency on climate risk assessment of all engagements and projects with ASEAN.  
  • Promote the inclusion of civil society organisations that represent the rights, interests and voices of women, youth, Indigenous and vulnerable communities in the collaboration with ASEAN. 

Notes to editor 

All figures are in AUD. Resource exports to Southeast Asia excluding crude petroleum are sourced from DFAT’s Trade statistical pivot tables. 

On 31 August 2023, regional Civil Society Organisations in ASEAN including Oxfam released a joint statement calling for a fast, democratic, empowering and equitable energy transition in the region.  

For interviews, contact Lucy Brown on 0478 190 099 / lucyb@oxfam.org.au

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