Australia is committed to helping the people of Papua New Guinea (PNG) meet the challenge of climate change.
At the 2016 Pacific Islands Forum, Prime Minister Turnbull announced a climate change and resilience support package to the Pacific of $300 million over four years. This is part of the $1 billion climate finance Australia pledged at the 2015 Paris climate change meeting to reduce emissions and build resilience in developing countries over five years.
The focus of Australia's support is on climate research and information, building resilience to climate change and disasters, and increasing country capacity to respond to disaster events. This support aligns with the Framework for Regional Development in the Pacific, endorsed by Pacific Island Forum leaders, which outlines an integrated approach to addressing climate change and disaster resilience. Australia also works to support PNG's commitments under its Nationally Determined Contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Key risks and challenges
PNG is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Around 80 per cent of the population live in rural and remote coastal communities, relying on weather-dependent livelihoods such as subsistence farming, fishing and small-scale cash cropping. These communities are exposed to climate-related hazards, including cyclones, droughts, floods and landslides.
Despite a high level of resilience stemming from a long history of experiencing variable weather, many communities have limited mechanisms for coping with extremes, which are projected to increase as climate change impacts intensify.
Key national infrastructure is also at risk from climate change — particularly when aging assets are exposed to extreme weather events. Uneven development — between urban and rural areas, and between women and men — also exacerbates the challenges presented by climate change.
There are opportunities in PNG to build on existing community structures to increase resilience to climate change and integrate climate risks and resilience into key development sectors.
Work is underway to ensure an enhanced focus on climate change risks and resilience in major sectors. Climate change is included as a cross-cutting issue and core pillar in PNG's key national planning documents: Vision 2050 and the Development Strategic Plan 2010-2030.
Building climate resilience of transport infrastructure
Through the Transport Sector Support Program phase 2 ($400 million, 2013-14 to 2018-19), PNG and Australia are working together to ensure critical transport infrastructure (bridges, wharfs and road) is resilient to the impact of climate change.
For example, PNG and Australia worked together to reconstruct 4 bridges in Oro Province destroyed by Cyclone Guba in 2007. Bridge designs were enhanced to withstand future major storm events including flooding. The bridges were opened for traffic in 2016 and have made a real difference to communities in the region.
Australia provided an estimated $115 million in climate change support to PNG between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
The Australian Aid Investment Plan (2015-16 to 2017-18) commits to taking disaster risks into account across the aid program as well as providing emergency responses where needed.
Many investments address climate change either directly or indirectly. Investments in infrastructure (transport, health and education) in particular take climate change risks into account and include adaptation measures.
For example, the Transport Sector Support Program (Phase 2, $400 million 2014-19) is supporting the government of PNG's capability to apply appropriate standards taking account of climate and disaster risks in road engineering, construction and maintenance. It is also upgrading safety standards and satellite navigation capability across PNG, which is critically important given the increased severity of weather events anticipated as a result of climate change.
These sectors will remain key areas for integrating climate change into Australian assistance in future. Efforts will continue to ensure best practice standards for infrastructure design and delivery in support of low carbon and climate resilient growth.
Papua New Guinea benefits from Australia's regional climate change programs, which total over $50 million (2015-16 to 2017-18).
Our programs work to:
- Build capacity of national meteorology services and measure sea level rise through the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific
- Improve access to and use of climate information for decision making and knowledge management through the iCLIM program, and
- Provide technical support to integrate climate change across our programs.
Australia also provides support to the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), which has a mandate to address priority climate change issues.
These programs build on our long term support for climate science in the Pacific.
PNG also benefits from Australian global humanitarian and disaster risk reduction programs. The Australian Humanitarian Partnership works with civil society partners to help local communities and organisations to prepare for and respond to disasters ($50 million, 2017-18 to 2021-22). Australia has also committed $5 million to the global Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS), which runs a project to strengthen the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in order to provide services to all Pacific island countries.
Australia contributes to global climate finance mechanisms, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF, $200 million committed over four years from 2015) and the Global Environment Fund ($93 million committed, 2014-2018). These funds support a wide range of resilience building and emissions reduction projects in the Pacific region. Australia uses its seat on the Green Climate Fund Board and the Global Environment Facility Council to streamline processes, highlight the climate change challenges and vulnerability of Pacific island countries and advocate for Pacific focused proposals.
Sectoral split of bilateral climate change investments in PNG ($ millions)