Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Ban Ki-moon’s climate change envoy has accused the UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal by financing the fossil fuel industry through subsidies.
Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN special envoy on climate change and El Niño, said she had to speak out after Germany promised compensation for coal power and the UK provided tax breaks for oil and gas.
Governments in Paris last year not only pledged to phase out fossil fuels in the long term but to make flows of finance consistent with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
“They’ve [the British government] introduced new tax breaks for oil and gas in 2015 that will cost the UK taxpayer billions between 2015 and 2020, and at the same time they’ve cut support for renewables and for energy efficiency,” she told the Guardian.
“It’s regrettable. That’s not in the spirit [of Paris]. In many ways, the UK was a real leader [on climate change] and hopefully the UK will become again a real leader. But it’s not at the moment.”
As Ban Ki-moon’s tenure as UN Secretary General draws to a close, he is no doubt thinking about his legacy, how history will remember him. Given the accelerating collapse of political climate enthusiasm across the world, my prediction is Ban Ki-moon will be remembered as the UN Secretary General who presided over the downfall of the green movement.