Most Australians would be shocked to find that Australia’s aid budget — meant to reduce poverty and advance gender equality — is supporting fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis, deepening poverty and gender inequality. Women and marginalised communities bear the brunt of the impacts. More extreme weather events like flood, drought, and fires destroy sources of food and water — which women are primarily responsible for in their families. The pressure this puts on families leads to skyrocketing rates of violence and harassment against women. Pacific women and communities are demanding we keep global warming below 1.5C. But the Australian government is still supporting fossil fuels.
Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Bank — which Australia gives part of our aid budget to — have clandestinely pumped nearly $33 billion over five years into polluting projects all over the world. Based on Australia’s shareholding in these banks, our share of this fossil fuel financing is $828 million over the same period (2016-2021).
Our government is aiding the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. Aid money that should help women and communities overcome poverty is doing just the opposite.
But Australia can change this. 39 countries and institutions like the US, UK, Germany, and Zambia have already signed on to the Glasgow Statement, an international agreement to stop financing of fossil fuels overseas and to catalyse finance for clean energy. Australia should join them.