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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Australia wins Fossil awards for repeal of carbon pricing and abandoning neighbors on loss and damage

Just four days in to the United Nations climate negotiations in Warsaw and Australia are winning our 3rd Fossil award for abandoning our neighbours on loss and damage, and our 2nd fossil award for the first country to attempt to wind back an established carbon pricing mechanism.

Earlier Australia earnt it's first rebuke by civil society at UN climate change talks for not putting forward any new finance commitments at the Warsaw negotiations.

Anyone would think Tony Abbott was envious of Canada's recent dubious record in obstruction and non-compliance in United Nations climate negotiations and decided we could do even better. And it looks like we are succeeding at knocking Canada off it's fossil of the year pedestal. But we are far from alone with Japan also earning special mention at the awards.

Canada applauds Australia - from one state in climate denial to another

According to the Guardian, Australia is the developed world's worst polluter per head of population, but Canada, under the Harper government, is close behind at 16.2 tonnes. Praise for Tony Abbott repealing the carbon price and slashing funding for renewables marks the first time Canada has actively sought to discourage other industrialised countries from following through on their own climate change commitments.

The WWF Canada blog by Josh Laughren described the official statement from Canada as another blow to Canada’s reputation and global standing on climate change:

Even more astounding, Canada’s statement points proudly to Canada’s record in cutting emissions, when the government’s own analysis shows they will miss their 2020 emissions reduction target by 50 per cent.

This represents a new low: not only is Canada dragging our heels on taking domestic action, we’re now using a meeting designed to come up with solutions as a platform to congratulate and cheer inaction and roll backs on climate change. Talk about leading with your chin.

Japan revises emissions targets down

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Japan's change in target is from a 25 per cent emission cut on 1990 levels to a 3.1 per cent increase on 1990 levels.

"This move by Japan could have a devastating impact on the tone of discussion here in Warsaw. It could further accelerate the race to the bottom among other developed countries when the world needs decisive and immediate actions to "raise" ambition, not to "lower" ambition." said Naoyuki Yamagishi, leader, Climate and Energy Group, WWF Japan in a media statement at the climate talks.

Australia's second Fossil of the Day for repealing the carbon price

The citation for Australia's 2nd fossil of the day, on day 3 of COP19 reads:

It has been millennia since the rumble of dinosaurs has been heard, but now in 2013 at COP19 to the UNFCCC we find ourselves among prehistoric fossils once more.

Overnight, the Australian government tabled legislation to repeal effective climate policy. Instead they hope to bring in an almost Orwellian-named “direct action plan” which they claim will meet their paltry 5% reduction target. Though if it doesn’t, which most leading economists agree it will not, further funding or even a Plan B are low on the list of the new government’s priorities.

As well as repealing the carbon price (hence hurling Australia back into the abyss of time, as opposed to the more than 40 countries, states and provinces who have moved into the modern times with a carbon price), in equally grim news, the bills will also strip $435 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and remove $10 billion of investment in clean energy. This comes amongst uncertainty around Australia’s 2020 targets, with a lack of clarity on whether the new policy regime will meet 5% and a review of a review of a possible review to take place in 2015 as to any further commitments.

In an extra outrageous statement the Prime Minister Tony Abbott opened the new parliament with the bold claim to the Australian people that “as far as the government is concerned, the adults are back in charge.” All of this earns Australia today’s first place Fossil of the Day award.

Watch on youtube video Australia receiving it's second Fossil of the Day award:

Australia's third Fossil of the Day for abandoning neighbors on loss and damage

The citation for the third fossil of the day, on day 4 of COP19 reads:

The First Place Fossil goes to – again - Australia. Withdrawing from climate action and finance for developing countries is already like a slap in the face of those suffering from the impacts of climate change. Simply expressing solidarity with the Philippines, as they did on Wednesday in the loss and damage negotiations, is not sufficient to repair the damage Australia caused.

Even worse, in the same negotiations, Australia gave a gold star performance in obtrusiveness. Their first point was to attach conditions and list the things Australia would not broach talking about. This included objecting to rehabilitation funds – even though this is an area of work already agreed to last year. Then Australia objected to provisions of insurance in the Convention process – even though insurance is even mentioned in the Convention. They insisted that the work programme on loss and damage should be ended when institutional arrangements are agreed, although many Parties have highlighted the usefulness of past work programme activities in their submissions, and a substantial discussion on the future activities has yet to happen.

Happily in contrast to Australia – the majority of other countries showed a constructive spirit. However, Japan gets a dishonorable mention for supporting Australia's obstructive and belligerent stance.

Watch a youtube video of the presentation of Australia's third Fossil of the day:

Photo Credit: Adopt a Negotiator Image Creative Commons (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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