‘Not winning friends’: Australia cops blame as climate talks extended

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John Connor, chief executive of the Carbon Markets Institute, said a ban on Australia’s use of so-called Kyoto carry-over credits remained an option in final drafts.

The use of a “surplus” – effectively halving Australia’s Paris pledge of reducing 2005-levels of emissions by 26 per cent by 2030 – opened the door to India and former Soviet nations to cut their ambition too, he said.

Angus Taylor, Australia's Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister (right), sits with other delegations during a panel session earlier this week on financing the Paris climate agreement.

Angus Taylor, Australia’s Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister (right), sits with other delegations during a panel session earlier this week on financing the Paris climate agreement. Credit:EPA/Juan Carlos Hidalgo

“Other countries definitely care … because the Kyoto carryover is a card only developed countries, who had carbon budget commitments under the Kyoto protocol, can play,” Mr Connor said. “To date it remains that only Australia is willing to play that card and it’s not winning them friends.”

The Carbon Markets Institute said 76 per cent of Australian businesses are opposed to the Morrison government’s plan to use Kyoto credits to cut the Paris abatement task, citing survey results it will release on Monday.

The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age sought comment from Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor.

Lately, the government has argued the credits don’t belong in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement being debated in Madrid because it has no intention to trade or sell them to other countries.

Richie Merzian, a former climate negotiator for Australia, said it remained likely Australia would get its way and have the banning clause removed from the final draft rather than stall progress on carbon trading or other issues.

Still, it “will most likely rear its head next year”, at the next COP to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

“All countries will be pressured to do more to increase their [emissions] targets or tighten the back end,” Mr Merzian, now an analyst with The Australia Institute, said from Madrid. “It’s certainly not going off the agenda.”

Labor last week reiterated its opposition to the use of Kyoto credits. Its climate spokesman, Mark Butler, said Scott Morrison’s government was “trying every accounting trick in the book rather than take any action on climate change”.

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“As the country continues to burn and hot weather records are imminent, Australians are rightly fed up that this government won’t take climate action and they have no plans to reduce emissions,” he said.

Adam Bandt, the Greens’ climate spokesman, said the government’s absence of climate policy was “no longer politically tenable at home or abroad”.

“This climate cheating won’t just undermine the global climate push, it will jeopardise our economy, such as in the current trade negotiations with the European Union, Australia’s second largest trading partner,” Mr Bandt said.

Peter Hannam writes on environment issues for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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