The stance of the countries at the summit, known as the COP25 talks, drew sharp criticism from smaller countries and environmental activists.
“These talks reflect how disconnected country leaders are from the urgency of the science and the demands of their citizens in the streets,” World Resources Institute think-tank vice president Helen Mountford said. “They need to wake up in 2020.”
The inaction continues despite the fact that current emissions reduction targets will see the world warming by 3C or more.
Diplomats have listed Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States among those resisting bolder action, according to Reuters.
Sticking points have included the creation of a global carbon market and the use of two types of carbon credits.
One of the main aims for the talks was to decide on the rules for the new carbon market, known as Article Six, which would allow countries to pay each other for projects that reduce emissions.
But countries including China, India and Brazil want a certain type of carbon credit to be carried over, which others say would flood the market with cheap credits generated under questionable circumstances.
Environmental groups and other countries, including the European Union, don’t support the use of these old credits.
While Energy Minister Angus Taylor told COP25 that Australia supported the Paris agreement and urged countries to finalise agreement on the carbon market, critics point out that Australia is at the centre of controversy about a second type of carbon credit it wants to use to meet its emissions reduction targets.
Australia has been lobbying to use carry-over credits it received for over-achieving on its prior Kyoto Protocol target to help it meet its 2030 target.
According to ABC, it appears to be alone in wanting to use these credits, which some have described as an “accounting loophole”.
“If you want this carry-over it is just cheating,” an architect of the Paris accord, Laurence Tubiana, told the Financial Times.
“Australia was willing in a way to destroy the whole system, because that is the way to destroy the whole Paris agreement.”
We only have 11 years for global action to prevent the worst of the #climatecrisis. Australia’s just wasted another precious year.
Instead of agreeing to greater ambition, we spent #COP25 fighting to use our dodgy accounting tricks. Shame on @ScottMorrisonMP and @AngusTaylorMP https://t.co/uZnkeVUOFv
— Richard Di Natale (@RichardDiNatale) December 16, 2019
Let’s be clear. Australia played a major role (along with 3 other fossil fuel economies) in blowing up these talks.
When we say “we’re too small to make a difference”, here’s an example where that’s definitively not true. Sadly in this case. https://t.co/r5gu353AHI
— Mike Cannon-Brookes 👨🏼💻🧢 (@mcannonbrookes) December 15, 2019
Australia just played a major role in sinking global climate policy negotiations, because it wanted to cut its target in half using a loophole.
For next time someone tells you Aus has no impact on the climate. #COP25 https://t.co/ZMxW8Yf9DQ
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) December 15, 2019
‘A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY’
The question of whether Australia should be allowed to rely on carry-over credits has now been deferred until the next UN conference to be held in Glasgow in November 2020, along with rules about the carbon market and the use of other credits.
Chile defended itself against criticism it was too weak in presiding over international climate change negotiations, saying it did all it could but that four big polluting countries got in the way.
Chilean President Sebastien Pinera described as “insufficient” the agreements reached on Sunday after marathon talks, but said it was not for the host’s lack of trying and criticism of its role was unfair.
“You have to convince 195 countries, and so if just one opposes, there is no agreement,” Mr Pinera said in comments to local media.
When it came to rules governing carbon markets, he said “the four big countries didn’t accept the proposals”.
But diplomats have listed Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States among those resisting bolder action.
Mr Pinera said he personally lobbied other presidents to reach a deal, but would not identify who he called and did not name the countries which he said blocked the deal.
“The countries that pollute the most did not live up to the challenge and remain in debt,” he said in a subsequent tweet.
Chile Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, who is president of COP25, said she was “sad and pained” that nations had failed to find consensus, but that the issue of carbon markets had tied down the last four summits.
“Neither the will nor the political maturity yet exists from some of the big emitting countries to be able to reach agreement on this,” she told a news conference.
Other issues that remain unresolved include Brazil’s insistence on a carbon accounting approach others say is baffling and the development of monetary compensation mechanisms to help developing countries, which the US has reportedly taken a hard line approach on.
In the COP25 concluding draft, it endorsed only a modest declaration on the “urgent need” to close the gap between existing emissions pledges and the temperature goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“As many others have expressed, we are disappointed that we once again failed to find agreement,” Costa Rica climate official Felipe De Leon said.
The Pacific island of Tuvalu accused the US, which began withdrawing from the Paris process last month, of blocking progress.
“There are millions of people all around the world who are already suffering from the impacts of climate change,” Tuvalu’s representative Ian Fry told delegates.
“Denying this fact could be interpreted by some to be a crime against humanity.”
NO LEGAL BASIS
Last week the Australia Institute released analysis by Climate Analytics that suggested there was no legal basis for Australia’s use of carry-over credits.
It suggests that most of Australia’s over-achievement on emissions came after it lobbied to allow “land use change” to be included in emissions reduction calculations.
Australia had a high amount of emissions in the base year of 1990 because it was allowed to include emissions from very high rates of land clearing for agriculture in that particular year.
The institute says it would be perverse to reward Australia in 2030 for the existence of large-scale deforestation that took place 40 years earlier.
“Had a different base year been used, or emissions from land use change been treated differently, Australia’s emissions targets would have been much more difficult to meet,” the report said.
It said Australia had also been able to negotiate an initial 8 per cent increase — not decrease — in emissions for the 2008 to 2012 period, and a 0.5 per cent reduction across 2013 to 2020.
“Australia could increase emissions rather than being required to decrease them,” the report said.
The report said if Australia was allowed to use the carry-over credits it would reduce its carbon reduction target from 26 per cent, to about 14.3 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, according to 2018 projections.
This month the government released its emissions projects that showed Australia’s actual emissions are set to drop by only 16 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
It wants to rely on 411 million tonnes of carbon credits to meet its emissions target of 26 per cent.
It comes as Australia scored zero out of 100 on policy in the latest international Climate Change Performance Index.
It dropped backwards to 56th place in the world rankings according to the index, compiled by German research bodies Germanwatch and New Climate Institute and the global Climate Action Network.
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