Australia settles into carbon pariah role

Via The Guardian:

Scott Morrison is increasingly seen as running a “denialist government” that is not serious about finding a global climate solution and uses “greenwash” to meet its emissions commitments, analysts and former diplomats say.

Australian observers in New York said Morrison’s failure to attend a UN climate action summit on Monday despite being in the US, and his apparent rejection of the need for Australia to do more to address its rising greenhouse gas emissions, eroded goodwill for the country on the issue.

While representatives from about 60 nations spoke at the summit, Morrison gave a keynote speech at the Chicago Institute for Global Affairs in which he challenged China to do more heavy lifting on climate change and suggested it should be treated as a “newly developed” economy rather than a developing one.

Bill Hare, the chief executive and senior scientist of Climate Analytics and a longtime adviser to countries at climate talks, said the UN summit had been “very disappointing” as most larger polluters, including Australia, had failed to meet the secretary general Antonio Guterres’ call to increase commitments, leaving ambitious strides to smaller nations.

He said country representatives at the summit were dismissive of Australia’s intentions.

“Diplomatic officials from countries that I speak with see Australia as a denialist government,” he said. “It’s just accepted that’s what it is. It is seen as doing its own promotion of coal and natural gas against the science.”

Hare said Morrison’s suggestion China should be doing more on climate, and be treated similarly to the most developed countries, while Australia’s emissions continued to increase year-on-year was a “ridiculous fake argument”.

He said China, the world’s most populous country and biggest annual polluter, was not doing anywhere near enough to tackle the crisis, but was doing more than Australia on many measures. It had national policies in a number of areas – boosting renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and efficiency in industry – where Australia did not.

“Is that having enough of an effect in China? No. But will China peak its emissions by the end of the 2020s? Yes,” Hare said.

“Will Australia? There is no evidence that Australia will peak its emissions as far as I’ve seen in any projections that have been published.”

A report backed by the world’s major climate science bodies released on the eve of the summit found current plans would lead to a rise in average global temperatures of between 2.9C and 3.4C by 2100, a shift likely to bring catastrophic change across the globe.

Richie Merzian, a former climate diplomat who now works at progressive thinktank the Australian Institute, said Australia was seen by other countries as denying the severity of the problem and in engaging in “greenwashing” by using accounting tricks to meet targets while actual emissions increased.

While leaders from other countries did not attend – notably Japan, Brazil and South Africa, while Donald Trump made a surprise passing appearance – Merzian said Morrison’s absence was seen as condescending as he was nearby. “If prime minister Morrison thinks he has skipped this meeting and not damaged his relationship with the Pacific, he’s in denial,” Merzian said.

I look forward to the day when climate economic sanctions arrive. Until then the free-rider will ride.

This will also give the bourgeois a fright as they watch this weekend’s naturalist special:

David Attenborough has criticised the Morrison government’s record on climate policy and support for new coalmines.

In an interview that will air on Triple J’s Hack on Tuesday, the celebrated broadcaster and natural historian also said visiting coral reefs, such as the Great Barrier Reef, that have bleached due to warming oceans is “a tragic sight”.

Attenborough told the program that previous Australian governments had been “saying all the right things” on climate policy but this had changed.

“You are the keepers of an extraordinary section of the surface of this planet, including the Barrier Reef, and what you say, what you do, really, really matters.

“And when you’ve been upstanding and talking about what I see as the truth and and you suddenly say, ‘No it doesn’t matter … it doesn’t matter how much coal we burn … we don’t give a damn what it does to the rest of the world.”


David Llewellyn-Smith
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