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8 Sep 2021

Sam Coates, Sky News

UK: Under Australian pressure, ministers removed key climate commitments from new trade deal

"Exclusive: Ministers bowed to pressure to drop key climate commitments for UK trade deal with Australia", 8 September 2021

Ministers agreed to bow to pressure from Australia to drop binding commitments to the Paris climate change agreement from the UK-Australian trade deal, a leaked government email obtained by Sky News has revealed.

Liz Truss, the trade secretary, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, decided the government could "drop both of the climate asks" from the text of the trade deal, according to the email from a senior official.

Among the areas to be removed was "a reference to Paris Agreement temperature goals".

Sky News understands the treaty text will contain a reference to Paris, but the reference to specific temperature commitments is disappearing.

Government sources confirmed that the references to temperature are now "implicit" rather than spelt out in the text of the trade treaty.

This is different from the UK-EU trade deal where the temperature commitments are explicitly in the deal.


The eleventh hour change comes three months after Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison, his Australian counterpart, announced they had come to an in-principle agreement over a trade deal.

However Sky News has learnt some of the trickiest issues have emerged since that announcement, including demands from Australia to drop the language around climate targets.


The Paris Agreement makes countries set goals in order to limit global warming to well below 2C, preferably to 1.5C, and other Free Trade Agreements signed by the UK include references to the Paris Agreement.


Australia is a signatory to the Paris Agreement but Mr Morrison has submitted less ambitious targets than some other major nations, although the government insists ultimately on a path to net zero.

...Australian ministers say coal will be a major contributor to the country's economy well beyond 2030.


John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said that the revelation showed ministers were "absolutely duplicitous".


A government source said: "The final text of the agreement will contain a commitment to address all the Paris climate goals - so therefore implicitly includes temperature. It's also the first time Australia will have ever included climate provisions in a trade deal. And includes various clauses for tackling emissions and so forth.


Part of the following timelines

UK Trade Policy

UK-Australia trade deal signed