Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia have effectively withdrawn from constructive engagement on climate and must stop playing poker with the planet, said a report released Friday by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel.
The report noted recent climate progress by China, the EU and the United States, but gave short shrift to the four above-mentioned nations.
“By hedging their bets and waiting for others to move first, some governments are playing poker with the planet and future generations’ lives. This is not a moment for prevarication, short-term self-interest, and constrained ambition, but for bold global leadership and decisive action,” Annan said in a statement ahead of the report’s release.
The panel, consisting of ten individuals, including Annan, former IMF boss Michel Camdessus, human rights activist Graca Machel and singer Bob Geldof, released the report as part of the build-up to crucial climate talks in Paris in December.
It urged the international community to help Africa gain full access to electricity in the short-term – some 621 million Africans currently have no access – and to make that power low-carbon in the longer run.
“Africa needs to utilize all of its energy assets in the short term, while building the foundations for a competitive, low-carbon energy infrastructure,” Annan said.
It estimated the continent face an annual energy funding gap of $55 billion to 2030.
The report said rich nations should stop subsidising their fossil fuel industries and instead increase efforts to cut their domestic GHG emissions.
“Many rich country governments tell us they want a climate deal. But at the same time billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money are subsidising the discovery of new coal, oil and gas reserves,” said Annan.
“They should be pricing carbon out of the market through taxation, not subsiding a climate catastrophe.”
Australian Environment Minister dismissed the claims that Australia is not playing its part in climate negotiations when confronted by reporters on Friday.
“We are deeply and absolutely engaged. There are very few countries which have achieved and beaten their Kyoto I targets. There are very few countries that have achieved and will beat their Kyoto II targets and we will be an ambitious and constructive and engaged player in the post-2020 negotiations,” he said.
Hunt also denied that the tough questions asked to its delegation in Bonn Thursday, a follow-up to a written Q&A session released earlier this week, should be seen as the international community criticizing Australia’s climate policy.
“With respect, your statement carries a presumption that is false, untrue, incredible and inaccurate,” he told one reporter who suggested other nations question whether Australia’s 5% reduction target by 2020 is fair.
“Each country is asking questions and each country is being asked questions. What we’ve been party to is precisely what the international community should be doing,” Hunt said.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org