Fossil of the Day: Australia Wins Big For Being the Worse

Yi Ying Teh | December 13, 2014.

As climate negotiations drew to a close, many countries did not disappoint in stepping up their game in impeding climate action. In recognition, the Fossil of the Day bestowed accolades to these countries and one very special accolade to a very special country.

In the third place was Canada. Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, took the stage in the persona of the current administration, which she described as a “post-shame government” for its friendliness to the fossil fuel industry. While Canadian climate change negotiators stated that Canada has full intentions to meet its agreed emissions targets, their domestic actions prove otherwise. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Harper informed the House of Commons that he will not regulate emissions from the oil and gas sector.

The most unlikely of alliances was awarded second place. Ukraine, Belarus and Russia stalled an agreement on the Doha amendment, which meant that countries could not specify the rules for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, making it harder for them to ratify it. This is problematic given only 21 parties have accepted the Doha amendment. Parties will now have to determine the rules of the second commitment period in an already over-scheduled COP21.

In an unprecedented move, the first-place Fossil was awarded to the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) and UMBRELLA groups of countries for their lack of compromise. Earlier, the EU and the US conceded and agreed to the inclusion of adaptation in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). In contrast, many LMDC countries expressed their concerns, though valid, by drawing “red lines” and were willing to leave Lima without an agreement. Their actions disregarded the COP president’s impassioned plea yesterday for parties to work with a constructive spirit to avoid leaving Lima empty-handed.

When a negotiation session broke for lunch, Malaysia wryly asked the co-chairs if parties had to be rearranged in their seats for the next session, reluctant to do so because the “battle lines have been drawn” and the LMDCs were already seated within the same vicinity. Malaysia’s remarks went against the spirit of negotiation and compromise, creating a false binary between allies and enemies when countries were looking for agreement in the final day of the climate talks.

Unsurprisingly, Australia took the Colossal Fossil award for collecting more Fossil awards than any other country here at COP20. Over two weeks, Australia refused to make contributions to the Green Climate Fund, stalled progress on loss and damage, and assured businesses that they will not sign onto a global climate deal. When Australia did eventually contribute AU$200 million to the Green Climate Fund, surprising everyone, this small success was qualified because the contribution will be drawn from their foreign aid budget.

When Fossil of the Day was brought to a close, negotiators were still hammering out an agreement. The Verb can only hope that Fossil of the Day will one day be obsolete, which may happen if countries come together to create a strong deal in Paris next year.

Fossil of the Day is an award given out by the Climate Action Network to the country that has done the least to progress the negotiations.

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