UN boss admonishes Australia over emissions

By Tom Ravlic

March 23, 2022

Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Photo by Lev Radin/Sipa USA)

Australia has been branded a “hold out” by the secretary-general of the United Nations for not having a proper target for emissions reductions by 2030.

Antonio Guterres took the swipe at Australia while speaking at a sustainability summit for a reluctance to commit to a firm emissions reduction target by 2030.

The barb from Guterres followed Australia’s failure to commit to a more ambitious target for 2030, as well as failing to commit to phasing out the use of coal more quickly.

“A growing number of G20 developed economies have announced meaningful emissions reductions by 2030 – with a handful of holdouts, such as Australia,” Guterres said.

“But the development imperatives and economic structure of major emerging economies are standing in the way of similar commitments. Above all, a high dependence on coal. This includes China, India, Indonesia and others.”

The secretary-general said the target of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees was still critical and could be reached provided people stopped investing in the “stupid investment” of coal.

He said the objective of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees needed to be done by accelerating the phase-out of coal and other fossil fuels and moving quickly to implement sustainable energy solutions.

“By honouring the Glasgow pledge to strengthen national climate plans every year until they are aligned with 1.5 degrees,” Guterres said. 

“By delivering concrete outcomes this year on climate coalitions to help emerging economies urgently phase out coal.”

Guterres also pointed to the need for an end to the blame game between established economies and those that were still developing.

He said it was not good enough for established economies to turn around and say to those less developed, that established economies have fulfilled their obligations when it comes to emissions reductions and that the developing nations needed to cut back their use.

Developing nations, Guterres observed, could reply to the advanced economies that “You exported carbon-intensive industrial activities to us in return for cheaper goods. You have outsourced pollution”.

He said that developing countries could also point to developed nations to assert that the emissions related to consumption rather than production means the developed world has a responsibility to deal with the pollution that arises from their outsourcing of emissions production.


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