Climate Change
Climate Diplomacy
Energy
Minerals & Mining
Oceania & Pacific
Sam Morgan, Euractiv
Polluted water being pumped from a flooded coal mine, Bowen Basin, Australia
Polluted water being pumped from a flooded coal mine, Bowen Basin, Australia | © Greenpeace/B.Cerise

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 euractiv.com]

Source:
EURACTIV

Climate Diplomacy
Global Issues
Lou del Bello, URBANET

At COP24, India-based Sheela Patel from SPARC talked to Lou del Bello about how climate change affects people in informal settlements the most – and about strategies to address their special needs.

Climate Change
Security
Global Issues
Raquel Munayer, adelphi

Climate change has been identified and recognized as a security issue and a threat multiplier by the international community, and climate security is now an integral part of security agendas in key international fora from New York to The Hague and Munich. As 2019 kicks off, action and implementation on climate security take centre stage.

Climate Change
Security
Europe
Planetary Security Initiative

Initiated in 2015, the French Ministry for the Armed Forces organized the first international conference “Defence and climate: what are the stakes?”. Since then, the Ministry has been constantly adapting and developing its capacity of anticipation.

Climate Diplomacy
Security
Global Issues
Benjamin Pohl and Stella Schaller, adelphi

On 25 January 2019, the UN Security Council held an open debate to discuss the security implications of climate-related disaster events. The meeting, initiated by the Dominican Republic, underscored the global nature of climate-related disasters. Most speakers highlighted the need for better climate risk management as an important contribution to safeguarding international peace and security. The debate marks the beginning of a year in which climate security ranks high on the UN’s agenda.