Private appeal for Climate Action
Published: 20 Aug 2019

The British Government has made a private appeal to senior Coalition ministers to help develop a more "ambitious" climate policy, as a result of growing concern that Australia is not doing enough to cut emissions. 

While the government is busy fending off criticism from Pacific island nations about their own climate policies, it has been revealed that the UK's high commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell has met with both ministers since the May election, using the introductory meetings to help convey Britain's view - being that it wants all countries, including Australia, to increase it's climate ambitions. This, because the country has prioritised climate action, becoming the first G7 country to legislate the target of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 - this proving possible: as the economy grows by 70% since 1990, the emissions have reduced by 40%.

It is understood that the meeting consisted of discussions around the future of Australia's energy policy, following the Coalition's dumping of its proposed national energy guarantee in the dying days of Malcolm Turnbull's time as a Prime Minister. Another bilateral meeting for Treadell raised the need for more ambitious climate action as pacific islands worry, some of which face an existential threat from the rising sea levels. 

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, batted away criticism about the country's position at the Pacific Islands Forum, following a refusal to endorse a statement he had that had called for both a quicker transition to renewable energy and a pledge to end coal-fired power. They did commit $500 million in the form of aid money to respond to the emergency, however, they have rebuffed calls for bolder emissions reductions targets, and aren't looking to use their carry-over credits to help meet their 2030 Paris emissions reduction targets. 

The UK has also put in an effort to step up its diplomatic activities in the Pacific in an 'uplift' program to set up posts across various islands. There is a belief that all countries need to do better, falling short of many important targets. The pressure is on from the UN for their next Climate Summit at New York, at which they will ask the visiting countries to explain their plans for how they are to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

The UK is planned to host next years COP (Conference of the Parties), and we can expect higher pressure on Australia for then as well.