An email from an unnamed Cabinet official that was leaked to Sky News has revealed that, in order to get the Australia trade deal “over the line”, Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng were willing to omit references to the Paris Agreement’s climate change targets and the UK’s commitments to them.
A draft of the trade deal, signed in June, does not contain any clear intentions on limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the target set out by the Paris Agreement. However, the government claims that the finalised trade deal will include a more explicit commitment to climate action. A spokesperson has said, "Our ambitious trade deal with Australia will include a substantive article on climate change which reaffirms both parties' commitments to the Paris Agreement and achieving its goals. Any suggestion the deal won't sign up to these vital commitments is completely untrue."
The news has caused worry amongst some who have concerns over Australia’s commitments to the Paris Agreement, which Greenpeace have referred to as “very weak”. Greenpeace executive director John Sauven has called for a moratorium on deals with countries not properly committed to climate action – such as Australia – saying:
"The UK government pledged to embed the environment at the very heart of trade, including supporting the Paris Agreement on climate and zero deforestation in supply chains… Signing an Australian trade deal with action on climate temperature commitments secretly removed is the polar opposite of everything Boris Johnson publicly pledged and rips the heart out of what the agreement stands for."
The Australian government has not denied these claims. Australian minister for trade, tourism, and investment Dan Tehan has stated, “The Australia-UK free trade agreement will deliver more jobs and greater access for businesses and workers in both countries, all of which will drive economic growth. Australia has remained consistent that all our FTAs should focus on international cooperation and meeting existing multilateral environment commitments.”