Climate change agreement can’t come too soon: agencies

A STRONG global agreement on climate, and a report backing a common sense approach to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has indicated renewable energy will play a big role in Australia's economic future.

But aid agency Oxfam says it can't come soon enough.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said while the historic deal in Paris was a clear demonstration of global momentum, it was only the beginning for the renewable energy sector.

"We have already seen huge changes recently in the way we produce and use energy," he said.

"The deal announced in Paris will accelerate a change that is already happening - a shift towards a zero-carbon energy sector in the decades ahead.

"It is no longer a question of whether or not this will happen. The question is now about what we need to do to prepare for the changes that have already begun. Almost three quarters of Australia's coal-fired power stations are either at or beyond their expected retirement date.

"Coal is an important part of Australia's history, but it's time we retired some of these old clunkers and get serious about modernising our energy system."

Mr Thornton said the Federal Government's move to include wind power in the new investment mandate of the CEFC sent a strong signal to international investors that Australia wants more renewable energy.

"It is great to see that common sense has prevailed. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is clearly committed to restoring confidence to renewable energy after several tough years," he said.

Meanwhile, Oxfam has called for more immediate action on climate change, with the global climate agreement not set to kick in until 2020.

The aid agency said evidence suggested climate change may increase the frequency of extreme El Niño occurring.

Oxfam Australia's Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine said governments in at-risk countries must learn from slow responses to past crises and scale-up early action now to prevent the weather event sparking major humanitarian crises.

She said Papua New Guinea was currently bearing the brunt of El Niño in the Pacific region, with the country's National Disaster Committee reporting up to 3 million people are at risk as crop failures force many people to cut back to one meal a day.

"The warning bells are deafening," Ms Quartermaine said.

"We must act now to save lives and prevent people falling further into poverty."

Topics:  climate change paris

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