East Timor is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and Australia has a moral and historical obligation to help, a University of Melbourne study has found.
“The legacy of several hundred years of outside occupation has led to a situation where Timor is grossly underdeveloped through no fault of its own,” a report by Dr Jeremy Moss from the University’s Nossal Institute of Global Health has found.
“Timor Leste should not have to bear the cost associated with global mitigation efforts,” the report reads.
The report, Climate Change and Energy Poverty in Timor-Leste, finds Australia’s northern neighbour is heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels for energy production and wood burning for cooking.
“This means those East Timorese lucky enough to have access to electricity pay extremely large bills while those who don’t suffer the health effects associated with prolonged wood burning,” Dr Moss said.
The report finds East Timor isn’t capable of adequately upgrading its energy infrastructure without outside help.
“Australia certainly has the ability to pay some of these costs,” Dr Moss said.
“The economic cost of developing these technologies is likely to outweigh the benefits, unless Timor receives financial assistance from the international community.”
The report also finds that getting the right ‘energy mix’ is vital for social justice.
Social justice considerations matter because energy provision has to be of benefit to people and communities, the report finds.
“If concerns for child and maternal health are to determine where and to what extent resources are allocated, then a greater emphasis might be placed on improved cookstove technology than expensive new power stations,” Dr Moss said.
The full report also considered broader questions regarding global responsibilities for climate change and how they effect local energy decisions.