Climate Change
Climate Diplomacy
Minerals & Mining
Oceania & Pacific
Sam Morgan, Euractiv

Australia’s new prime minister will not walk away from the Paris climate agreement, although his new policies now make it unlikely the country will meet its emissions reduction goal. Ongoing trade talks with the EU could also hinge on how climate policy continues to develop.

Scott Morrison became Australia’s new prime minister on 24 August, after a brutal leadership contest saw Malcolm Turnbull ousted from his position, following a row over energy policy. Turnbull had wanted to cement in legislation Australia’s pledge to cut emissions by 26% by 2030, based on 2005 levels, but his conservative party colleagues soured on the idea. Poor opinion polls and recent defeats had stoked concerns ahead of federal elections next year.

After Morrison got the nod, the new prime minister moved to shore up his voter base by splitting the environmental and energy portfolios, meaning emissions reduction will no longer be a concern of the latter. The new setup means price and security of supply will now be the main tent poles of energy policymaking, meaning Australia will now struggle to meet its Paris commitments, according to climate experts, and will have to rely on passive measures.

In a tweet on Wednesday (29 August), Morrison called the new minister for energy, Angus Taylor, his “minister for lowering electricity prices”. Another MP, George Christensen, one of the rebels that helped depose Turnbull, called for more new coal-fired power stations and for “costly green treaties” to be abandoned. Local media reported that senior sources in government are unsure how Australia will now meet its targets, which were set by Turnbull’s predecessor, Tony Abbott, in 2015.

Abbott has since claimed he was “misled” by advisers when signing up to the Paris deal and has backed calls for Australia to follow the United States in withdrawing from the agreement. But sources also insisted that the new government will try to resist internal pressures to walk away from the 2015 climate accord, which aims to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Climate trade-off

The European Commission recently launched trade talks with both Australia and New Zealand, and a report circulated by the EU executive in early August revealed that the early negotiating rounds had progressed well. Bilateral trade between Australia and the EU topped €70bn in 2017 and an impact assessment concluded that removing certain tariffs could boost that figure by around a third.

But earlier this year, EU trade boss Cecilia Malmström tweeted that a reference to the Paris Agreement is needed in all new commercial deals, as part of the bloc’s attempts to export climate diplomacy across the world through trade. When asked how Australia’s new approach to climate policy might affect the ongoing talks, a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV that “it would be difficult to imagine concluding a broad trade agreement without an ambitious chapter on trade and sustainable development”.

The recently brokered Japan agreement contains a chapter on sustainability, and ongoing talks with Mexico and Mercosur are expected to as well.


[This article originally appeared on]


Sustainable Transformation
Global Issues
UN News

Greenhouse gas emissions are down and air quality has gone up, as governments react to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, has cautioned against viewing this as a boon for the environment. In this First Person editorial from UN News, Ms. Andersen calls instead for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet.

Adaptation & Resilience
Climate Change
Climate Diplomacy
Early Warning & Risk Analysis
Dr. Dhanasree Jayaram

South Asia’s vulnerability to climate change and associated fragility risks calls for a regional approach to climate services. Different actors need to cooperate to share actionable climate information—the security architecture in the region would benefit.

Climate Change
Sustainable Transformation
Technology & Innovation
Global Issues
Kongjiang Yu, Urbanet

With cities continuously more threatened by climate change-induced disasters, urban planning’s reflex response is to protect cities against nature. But what if the solution lies in working with nature instead against it? Architect Kongjiang Yu invites readers to imagine what cities could look like if they took into account ancient wisdom on spatial planning.

Conflict Transformation
South America
Central America & Caribbean
Andrés Bermúdez Liévano, Diálogo Chino

During the past two weeks, Antigua & Barbuda, Nicaragua and Panama ratified the Escazú Agreement, giving a major boost to the unprecedented and innovative Latin American pact that seeks to reduce social conflicts and protect frontline communities in the world’s deadliest region for environmental defenders.