The Australian Federal Government pressured the UK to drop references to commitments to Paris Agreement temperature limits in order to get a post-Brexit trade deal over the line.
This is according to a claim made by Greenpeace, which says the information is in a leaked email obtained by the environmental organisation.
The trade deal between Australia and the UK was set to contain references to the Paris goals of limiting global heating to 2-degrees C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to a lower limit of 1.5-degrees C.
Three UK ministers agreed to ditch references
However, in a leaked email allegedly seen by Greenpeace UK, three senior ministers – Liz Truss (UK Secretary of State for International Trade), David Frost (UK Minister of State for EU Relations) and Kwasi Kwarteng (UK Secretary of State for Business) – are named as agreeing to ditch references to the temperature commitments in the Paris Agreement on climate in order to get the Australian trade deal “over the line”.
David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said the leaked email reveals the lengths to which the Morrison Government is prepared to go to thwart meaningful action on climate change.
“These breaking revelations confirm the worst: that Australia is actively engaged in diplomatic bullying to weaken the global climate effort”.
“As this leaked email reveals, the Morrison Government is resorting to sleazy backroom deals and pressure tactics to shirk the commitments it has made to the world on climate change,” he said.
Same ‘sleazy lobbying’ during Barrier Reef clash
According to Ritter, the same “sleazy lobbying was seen around the Government’s recent confrontation with UNESCO over the Great Barrier Reef.
He questioned what motivation there could be for an “act of very deliberate diplomatic sabotage”, except to undermine global climate progress and protect Australia’s coal, oil and gas industry. This, he said, was one of the world’s top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions?
“Cutting a trade deal with the UK Government, with climate temperature commitments secretly removed, is the latest act of wilful climate obstruction. It is embarrassing and shameful that Australia has been exposed as actively undermining the global Paris climate goal in this way,” Ritter stated.
“Boris Johnson pledged to the UK people that he would put climate action at the heart of the UK economy and diplomacy. He needs to personally intervene to hold the line against Morrison at a time when global cooperation on emissions reduction is more important than ever.”