Australia pledges $219 million to UN Green Climate Fund

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia on Wednesday pledged A$200 million (S$218.7 million) to the United Nations-backed Green Climate Fund to mitigate the impact of global warming on poor countries, joining other nations such as the United States and Japan.

"All countries should take practical and proportionate steps to take action on climate change while safeguarding economic growth," said Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a joint statement with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is at a UN climate summit in Peru.

The money will come over four years.

Australia, with its use of coal-fired power and relatively small population of 23 million, is one of the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters and has been under increasing pressure to do more to tackle the climate threat.

Its pledge follows the United States contributing US$3 billion (S$3.9 billion), Japan up to US$1.5 billion and France and Germany US$1 billion each to the UN fund.

Mr Abbott said the Australian cash would bring total international contributions to over the fund's initial capitalisation target of US$10 billion by the end of the year.

"The pledge to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will facilitate private sector led economic growth in the Indo-Pacific region with a particular focus on investment in infrastructure, energy, forestry and emissions reduction programmes," he added.

The GCF is a mechanism designed as a way for wealthy countries to help poorer ones to become greener and to bolster their defences against the effects of climate change.