The one achievement the Australian government can claim since the election of the Coalition government in 2013 is a virtual mortgage of the Fossil of the Day awards at the annual UN-sponsored climate talks.
The awards – handed out by NGOs united under the Climate Action Network-International banner, are handed out on a daily basis during the two-week negotiations, which in 2015 culminated in the Paris climate treaty, aiming to keep average global warming well below 2°C.
Australia has dominated the awards at the last few COPs (conference of the parties) ever since the Warsaw COP when then prime minister Tony Abbott ordered the Australia delegation to do an about-face on its previous negotiating stances.
At the Fiji-hosted, but Bonn-located climate talks that began on Monday – and which will help set the rules of the treaty, and lay a path for countries to ramp up their targets – Australia was quickly out of the blocks to seize the first fossil award, thanks to its support of the Adani coal mine.
CAN said the plans to build a coal mine larger than the city of Paris and ship its coal out through the bleaching Great Barrier Reef highlighted its commitment to fossil fuels and its climate science denials
“As bad neighbours go, Australia is the worst! Providing funding and approval for these mines (Adani isn’t the only one!) would put its already vulnerable neighbours at further risk. You should be striving to protect the Pacific Islands, Australia, not destroy them,” CAN said in a statement.
“Australia can’t sign up to the Paris agreement and then give almost $1 billion to Adani to build the world’s biggest coal mine. It is putting short term profits ahead of the future of entire nations.
“The age of fossil fuels is over. Australia must prove it is serious about limiting warming to 1.5 degrees if it wants to reduce the frequency and severity of natural disasters, from strengthening Pacific cyclones and sea level rise to extended bushfire seasons and bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.”
Australia has a 34-strong delegation at the Bonn talks, and environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg will attend from November 14 to 16 for ministerial sessions.
The award came as Syria became the last nation to sign up to the Paris climate treaty, leaving the US – which has vowed to abandon it – as the only non-member nation to the accord.
Syria and Nicaragua were the only nations outside the Paris deal when it was agreed in December, 2015. Nicaragua signed in October, but in June the US said it would withdraw, although the rules of the agreement means that this cannot be done until 2020.
“As if it wasn’t already crystal clear, every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position,” the US-based Sierra Club said in a statement.
The BBC reported on Monday that French officials had confirmed that US President Donald Trump had not been invited to a climate summit in Paris at which more than 100 countries will aim to “build coalitions” with finance and business to further the accord.