The Australian Government Reportedly Tried To Downplay The Impact Of Coal In A New IPCC Report

Government officials reportedly tried to alter sections about the future of coal.

ipcc australia

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The Australian government allegedly tried to change an upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to downplay the impact of fossil fuel and continue to promote coal power, according to Greenpeace.

The last IPCC report, which made headlines across Australia and the world, detailed how dangerously close we are to the point of no return when it comes to climate change, and the stark reality of what we need to do — and how soon we need to do it — if we want to avoid catastrophic damage.

However, leaked documents obtained by Greenpeace’s Unearthed investigations project — and seen by the ABC — allegedly reveal how Australia has attempted to alter a draft copy of the latest report, which is yet to be released.

It’s not unusual for governments to provide feedback on IPCC reports, but until now, it was not known just how much countries — including Australia — have attempted to alter the language used and minimise the impact on the lucrative, yet destructive fossil fuel industry.

According to Greenpeace UK Executive Direct John Sauven, the leaked documents give us an insight into “what governments really think about the climate emergency”.

While multiple countries including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan and Argentina were also allegedly documented as trying to downplay their complicity in the climate emergency and influence the language used, the reports on Australia are particularly interesting.

In news that is hardly shocking considering the Australian government’s long history of climate inaction, an official from the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources asserted that coal-fired power has a future in Australia.

“These remarks confuse the objective (eliminating emissions) with the means ‘retiring existing coal-fired power’,” the official wrote, adding that carbon capture and storage “remains relevant to zero emissions.”

An Australian government official also objected to part of the document, which called for a halt to the construction of new coal-fired power stations, and the eventual retirement of those still active.

Additionally, the country objected to a claim that fossil fuel industry campaigns have had a negative impact on climate action. “Campaigns by oil and coal companies against climate action in the US and Australia are perhaps the most well-known,” the draft report stated. However, the government called this a “political viewpoint made to seem factual.”

It is unclear how many comments were made by Australian government officials in the paper, with the ABC only being able to verify three.

Following the leaked report, a spokesperson for Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor told the ABC that the portions of the document that have been leaked were mischaracterising of the country’s position on climate action.

“All governments are invited to comment on draft IPCC reports as a matter of process,” the spokesperson said. “All comments received by the IPCC are published with their reports as they are finalised. This ensures complete transparency. The assertion that commenting on a draft is somehow ‘interference’ is categorically false.”

Junkee has reached out to Angus Taylor’s office for more information on the comments.