(Bloomberg) — Australia, the developed world’s biggest polluter, will be an “active” and “willing” participant in an upcoming UN-led climate conference in Egypt, the energy minister says. Chris Bowen, even as the country’s dirty fuel exports mount.
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The COP27 event is “an important opportunity to talk about what Australia brings to the table,” Bowen, also climate change minister, said at a press conference in Sydney on Saturday. “This is an important opportunity to help the rest of the world, to take the next step forward.”
Australia continues to benefit from coal: prices have soared to record highs and futures contracts suggest they will remain at historic highs for years to come. The Newcastle coal futures benchmark closed on Friday at $349 a tonne, more than five times higher than two years ago. Futures contracts are mostly above $260 a ton through 2027. Not a single futures contract was above $75 just two years ago.
The cabinet has agreed to bid to host the COP31 gathering in 2026 as Australia hopes to boost clean energy in the years to come, Bowen said. The resource-rich nation is the highest carbon emitter per capita in the developed world, largely due to its dependence on coal and fossil fuels both at home and for exports.
“It will be an opportunity, if we win the tender, to show Australia’s ability to help the world as a renewable energy powerhouse,” he said. “This is an opportunity to work closely with our Pacific family, and we will seek to co-host the bid with Pacific to help raise the Pacific case for more climate action.”
The political narrative in Australia shifted in favor of renewable energy after a national election in May that put the Labor Party in power and handed gains to the Green Party and several independent lawmakers who campaigned on environmental platforms. New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged to end the climate wars and followed through on his campaign promises by introducing a climate change bill to cut emissions by 43% by 2030 from levels of 2005.
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