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UN bars Australia from stage at climate summit, China and India invited to speak

Neil Mitchell
Article image for UN bars Australia from stage at climate summit, China and India invited to speak

The United Nations has barred several nations, including Australia, from speaking at the UN climate summit in New York next week, despite some of the world’s biggest polluters being invited to speak.

Japan, the US and South Africa are also among the nations who have been banned from the stage, but China and India, two of the world’s largest emitters of carbon, will speak.

Distinguished Professor of Biology at Macquarie University, Lesley Hughes, said the UN “is drawing a line in the sand” by banning countries from speaking.

“I think it’s a very potent message to send out to the world,” she told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“There are some countries who are actively working against climate change and Australia has been singled out as one of those.”

Ms Hughes said she can’t be sure why the UN made the decision to exclude Australia, but include China and India, but their developing status plays a role.

“They are on a journey. They are developing countries, they’re still trying to bring their people out of poverty, so they’re on an upward trajectory in that sense,” she said.

“There are a lot more positive things happening in India and China in terms of supporting renewable energy and transitioning away from coal, eventually, than there are in Australia.

“They’re investing enormous amounts in renewables, particularly in solar.”

Ms Hughes said successive Australian governments have actively worked to undermine the shift towards renewable energy.

“The Morrison Government, and previously the Abbott Government, were one of the very few, if not the only, governments in the world to roll back a renewable energy target,” she said.

“They abolished a carbon price which was having a very effective result in reducing emissions from the electricity sector.

“The Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, has said that he wants our coal-fired power stations, most of which are very old and inefficient, to keep running at full tilt. They’re supporting the opening of new coal-fired power stations and the opening of new coal mines such as Adani, so there’s not a lot that they’re doing right, frankly.”

While China and India emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases, on a per capita basis, their emissions are far lower than Australia’s.

Australia emitted 15.4 metric tonnes of carbon per capita in 2014, according to the World Bank, while China emitted 7.5 tonnes per person and India emitted 1.5 tonnes per person.

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Neil Mitchell