8 January 2020

Australia’s bipartisan commitment to carbon trickery has been called out in the international press: “The conventional view is the one Morrison put to the United Nations last September. ‘Australia is responsible for just 1.3% of global emissions,’ he told the General Assembly. … That statement relies on a rubbery definition of ‘responsible.’ While Australia’s domestic emissions are in line with Morrison’s figures, exports are another matter. This country is the world’s biggest net fossil fuel exporter after Russia and Saudi Arabia, vying with Indonesia as the No. 1 supplier of coal… It’s hard to explain to outsiders quite how little this features in the country’s domestic debate. Thanks to the magic of international carbon accounting, fossil fuel exports are conventionally counted toward destination countries, rather than the place where they were extracted. This methodological quirk is convenient for a country that doesn’t want to look like a climate pariah — but it’s helped to obscure the way Australia has been profiting from undermining global climate targets for a generation. As the residents of burned-out towns and owners of incinerated livestock will know, the warming that results is the same whether the carbon is burned in Australia, or overseas.” It’s like handing the arsonist a box of matches and then claiming the fire had nothing to do with you.