Guest essay by Eric Worrall
In yet another blow to COP26, reports have surfaced that British COP26 host Prime Minister Boris Johnson has caved in to Aussie PM Scott Morrison’s demands to delete hard climate targets from the UK / Australian free trade agreement currently being negotiated.
UK government accused of dropping FTA climate commitments due to Australian pressure
By Europe bureau chief Steve Cannane
When Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison announced they had finalised a trade deal between Australia and the UK it was sold as win/win deal.
- A leaked email purportedly shows the UK agreed to drop climate references from the FTA in a bid to appease Australia
- Britain is due to hold the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow at the end of next month
- The free trade agreement between Australia and the UK could be formally signed within weeks
But now the British government is under fire for giving ground to Australia on climate change goals just months before it will be urging other nations to cut emissions when it hosts the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.
A leaked email from a senior official in the British cabinet office – obtained by Sky News UK – allegedly shows the Brits agreed to drop certain references to commitments from the Paris climate change agreement in a bid to appease Australia and get a free trade deal over the line.
John Sauven, the Executive Director of Greenpeace in the UK, told the ABC he had seen the email and said it shows Australia was pushing to remove references to Paris temperature commitments from the free trade agreement.
“The Australian government said they would not sign a trade agreement if those were in the trade deal and three ministers, senior ministers in the cabinet were consulted on this and the agreement was that in order to get the trade deal over the line they would remove those temperature commitments which basically underpin the Paris Agreement from the trade deal,” he said.
The funniest part of this latest blow to international climate action is it is probably the European Union’s fault.
If the European Union had not been so eager to punish Britain for leaving, Britain might have been less desperate to sign free trade agreements with Australia and other non-EU countries.
So what we have is a case of two hardline climate activist power blocks, the UK and the EU, which are so busy fighting each other, they’ve fumbled an opportunity for pressuring the rest of the world to commit to genuine climate action.
My prediction – Glasgow COP26 is going to be a total fiasco.
Between NATO fury over President Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal, an ongoing feud between the green EU and green Britain, increasingly absurd demands for cash from poor countries, and China and Australia simply refusing to play ball, the only agreement I expect out of COP26 is an agreement to hold a COP27 climate conference.
Update (EW): The UK has apparently denied watering down climate commitments in the Australia / UK free trade agreement.
In a statement to SBS News, the UK government denied its trade deal with Australia abandons that ambition.
“Any suggestion the deal won’t sign up to these vital commitments is completely untrue,” a spokesperson said.
…Read more: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/backlash-after-australia-watered-down-climate-change-pledge-in-uk-trade-deal/1879d7a7-ec74-404c-8b9c-b992af4ba8b4