News National Fossil-fuelled jibes: Australia mocked at climate summit

Fossil-fuelled jibes: Australia mocked at climate summit

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Australia has won its third “fossil of the day” award at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, as international environment groups attempt to embarrass the Abbott government on the world stage over its decision to scrap the carbon tax.

The dubious honour has been awarded each day of the annual talks to a so-called “dinosaur” deemed by environment groups to have stalled progress on climate change.

The award tally and other news from the sidelines of the summit are published in a daily bulletin distributed among the thousands in attendance.

With UN Conference of Parties (COP) talks about to enter their fifth day, Australia has not been faring well.

It has won three of the four “fossil” awards handed out so far, with host nation Poland bagging one over its decision to hold a coal summit at the same time as the UN talks.

The Climate Action Network said the Australian government’s reluctance on climate financing, “obtrusiveness” in negotiations and Wednesday’s tabling of the carbon tax repeal laws had earned it three gongs.

Business groups at the summit are questioning recent policy changes in Australia.

Baker and McKenzie climate lawyer Ilona Millar said she had fielded questions from business delegates asking about the future of carbon pricing in Australia, and when the repeal was to occur.

“A lot of people who are working in that space are a little bit perplexed about why you would move away from a market-based approach,” she told AAP from Warsaw on Friday.

Those excited about Australia’s carbon market linking with Europe’s emissions trading scheme had expressed “some disappointment” at the prospect of it being dismantled, she said.

Australia’s scheme was to link with Europe in July 2015, when the fixed carbon tax period ended.

WWF climate manager Will McGoldrick said Australia could play a constructive role in Warsaw by showing a willingness to increase its unconditional five per cent emissions target.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt this week reaffirmed his support to that target, and to reviewing Australia’s commitments ahead of a Paris summit in 2015 aimed at forging a new climate agreement.

The government broke with tradition and sent diplomats instead of a minister to Warsaw.

Ms Millar said Australia had been “very quiet” at the talks so far.

“That’s possibly a function of the negotiating mandate that the diplomats have got,” she said.

But she stressed there was still a week to go.