UN climate talks: Australia accused of 'cheating' and thwarting global deal

(The Guardian, 15 Dec 2019) Morrison government criticised for planning to use accounting loophole to meet emissions target.

Disagreement over Australia’s plan to use an accounting loophole to meet its climate target will spill into 2020 after a United Nations conference in Madrid failed to reach consensus on rules to implement the global deal.

As talks dragged past the scheduled Friday close into Sunday afternoon, Australia was accused of “cheating” and named by other countries and conference observers as one of a handful of nations that thwarted a deal on the rulebook for the Paris climate agreement.

The Morrison government drew criticism throughout the fortnight-long conference for planning to use carryover credits, an accounting measure linked to the expiring Kyoto protocol, to meet the 2030 emissions target it set at the Paris summit four years ago.

Australia claims access to the carryover credits for beating its Kyoto targets. Opponents say those targets were unambitious and based on earlier favourable accounting rules won by the Howard government more than 20 years ago.

Laurence Tubiana, a former French environment minister and architect of the Paris accord, told the Financial Times: “If you want this carryover it is just cheating. Australia was willing in a way to destroy the whole system, because that is the way to destroy the whole Paris agreement.”

Using the credits would reduce what Australia needs to do to meet its 2030 target of a minimum 26% cut in emissions below 2005 levels by more than half. Analysts said there was no legal basis for Australia using the credits as the Kyoto and Paris agreements were separate treaties, and noted officials had acknowledged Australia was the only country planning to still count them.

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The Guardian, 15 Dec 2019: UN climate talks: Australia accused of 'cheating' and thwarting global deal