Climate Weekly: Australia loses the plot… again

Sign up to get our weekly newsletter straight to your inbox, plus breaking news, investigations and extra bulletins from key events

Despite broad public concern about rising drought and bushfire risk, Australia's government has failed to bring emissions down (Photo: Commons/virtualsteve)


It has been a sleepless week for our editor Karl Mathiesen, an Australian in London, gripped by political turmoil back home.

As prime minister Malcolm Turnbull stepped down on Friday, he warned the ruling coalition had been captured by ideologues who made it tough to get any agreement on climate and energy policy. Roll on next year’s federal election.

On Monday, prime minister Turnbull had admitted he could not get support in his party for electricity carbon targets, weak though the proposals were. By the end of the week, he had been ousted.

His successor, Scott Morrison, infamously brandished a lump of coal in parliament last year. He’s no tree-hugger.

It could have been worse for the climate. Morrison narrowly defeated a candidate, Peter Dutton, who raised the alarming prospect of Australia quitting the Paris Agreement. That risk has receded

Climate conversations

Ukraine must embrace renewables to become truly independent – Hans-Josef Fell and Ruslana Lyzhychko

Kerala shows how floods are changing – Daniel Parsons and Christopher Skinner

Call for unity

Latin America is deeply divided on what to do with Venezuela, but surely the need for climate finance is something all countries can agree on.

So argued Uruguay environment minster Eineda de León at the region’s climate week, urging neighbours to work together.

Regional disputes are hampering the region’s representation in key discussions, with two seats on the Green Climate Fund board sitting vacant and Brazil’s candidacy to host next year’s climate talks unconfirmed.

Quote of the week

“In the midst of a global heatwave and with the heart of hurricane season fast approaching, it is discouraging to see the world’s biggest historic emitter further retreat from climate action, to say the least” – Amjad Abdulla, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), on the repeal of the US Clean Power Plan

Hot commodity

After years in the doldrums, the EU carbon market finally has some wind in its sails.

The price of pollution has tripled in the past year – and crossed the €20/tonne mark since this article was published – putting pressure on coal power generators.

Carbon Tracker predicts it will reach €40/t in the next five years, driving a switch to cleaner-burning gas. But with uncertainty over the long term outlook, Carbon Market Watch is calling for a carbon price floor to underpin clean investment.

Best of the rest

Read more on: Climate politics