Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator
It has been millennia since the rumble of dinosaurs has been heard, but now in 2013 at COP19 to the UNFCCC we find ourselves among prehistoric fossils once more.
Overnight, the Australian government tabled legislation to repeal effective climate policy. Instead they hope to bring in an almost Orwellian-named “direct action plan” which they claim will meet their paltry 5% reduction target. Though if it doesn’t, which most leading economists agree it will not, further funding or even a Plan B are low on the list of the new government’s priorities.
As well as repealing the carbon price (hence hurling Australia back into the abyss of time, as opposed to the more than 40 countries, states and provinces who have moved into the modern times with a carbon price), in equally grim news, the bills will also strip $435 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and remove $10 billion of investment in clean energy. This comes amongst uncertainty around Australia’s 2020 targets, with a lack of clarity on whether the new policy regime will meet 5% and a review of a review of a possible review to take place in 2015 as to any further commitments.
In an extra outrageous statement the Prime Minister Tony Abbott opened the new parliament with the bold claim to the Australian people that “as far as the government is concerned, the adults are back in charge.” All of this earns Australia today’s first place Fossil of the Day award.
For the people who might not know this country, let’s us describe it a bit. This country has increased its carbon emissions 124% from 1990 levels. In the past few years, this country is recording the largest relative increase in annual carbon emissions. If you still don’t know what country this is, here is an other clue: this country is the 4th biggest coal investor in the world. If you still cannot figure it out, this is an Annex 1 country without any pledges. Also, this country has recently issued an exemption to all state owned electricity production companies on all environmental permits and legally binding environmental investments until 2021.
38% of this country’s electricity production comes from state owned plants. Have you guessed yet? Today’s second place Fossil goes to Turkey.
It seems that previous fossils were not enough for Turkey to take its responsibility so we're hearing rumours like the country has closed down their Interministrial Climate Change Coordination Council as well as they dismantling other institutions that have to work on climate change. But the last thing we saw from participant list was unbelievable. Turkey didn't bring one single person from the Ministry of Environment, even from Climate Change Department. We don't want to believe that Turkey came to UNFCCC for a tour of Warsaw’s sights. We also don't want to believe that Turkey is here with Ministry of Energy to participate to Coal & Climate Summit. We're giving this fossil to Turkey for their love of coal and dismantling climate policies and institutions but we also want you to know that you still have a chance to be loved. Now be responsible and take your pledge!
What is worse than appalling action on climate change? Having an appalling record on climate change AND congratulating others for their appalling climate policies. With Australia taking steps to dismantle its climate protection program and its carbon price, the Canadian government jumped at the opportunity to take Question Period talking points to the international stage. Canada’s rejection of carbon pricing in favour of an ineffective regulatory approach has been demonstrated to be the wrong way to actually get emissions down – with the government’s own estimate putting their projected 2020 emissions 20% above their Copenhagen target. We shake our heads in disbelief that a government publicly congratulates others on moving backward and dodging their responsibility on climate change while people are dying from climate impacts. That’s why we award Canada the Fossil of Disbelief today.