Australia pledged A$200 million to the Green Climate Fund (GCF)

Australia has pledged it will provide A$200 million over the next four years to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a U.N. initiative that redistributes money from the developed to the developing world to counter climate change.

It came as a welcome surprise for those at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.

Particularly as Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a former climate-change sceptic. However, he has recently made a number of policy reversals – thought to be because his approval ratings have dropped to record lows.

Tony Abbott told reporters in Melbourne:

“I’ve made various comments some time ago but as we’ve seen things develop over the last few months I think it’s fair and reasonable for the government to make a modest, prudent and proportionate commitment to this climate mitigation fund,”

According to Abbott, the money for Australia’s contribution to the fund will come from its foreign aid budget.

The Green Climate Fund is a major initiative launched in 2009 to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 for developing nations to combat climate change. Funding comes for both public and private sources.

Its main aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make changes to adapt to heatwaves, rising sea levels, and mudslides.

It is considered to be vital in coming to a climate deal in Paris in late 2015.

At last month’s G20 summit in Brisbane climate change was one of the most discussed topics, despite the meeting being an effort for countries to meet and talk about economic growth.

The US pledged up to $3 billion and Japan pledged $1.5 billion.

Abbot’s decision was well received by environmental groups, but Senator Christine Milne, opposition Greens Party leader, said it was too late.

“It is going to take much more than $200 million over four years for Australians or the global community to believe there has been any real shift in Tony Abbott’s climate denial position,” she said in a statement.