SYDNEY, Sept 9 2021: The Australian Federal Government pressured the UK to drop references to commitments to Paris Agreement temperature limits in order to get a post-Brexit trade deal over the line, in a leaked email obtained by Greenpeace.

The trade deal between Australia and the UK was set to contain references to the Paris goals of limiting global heating to 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to a lower limit of 1.5C.

However, in a leaked email seen by Greenpeace UK, three senior ministers, Liz Truss (UK Secretary of State for International Trade), David Frost (UK Minister of State for EU Relations) and Kwasi Kwarteng (UK Secretary of State for Business) are named as agreeing to ditch references to the temperature commitments in the Paris Agreement on climate in order to get the Australian trade deal “over the line”. 

David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said that the leaked email reveals the lengths to which the Morrison Government is prepared to go to thwart meaningful action on climate change.

“These breaking revelations confirm the worst: that Australia is actively engaged in diplomatic bullying to weaken the global climate effort”.

“As this leaked email reveals, the Morrison Government is resorting to sleazy backroom deals and pressure tactics to shirk the commitments it has made to the world on climate change,” he said.

“We saw it with the sleazy lobbying around UNESCO and the Great Barrier Reef and now this.”

“What possible motivation could there be for this act of very deliberate diplomatic sabotage, except to undermine global climate progress and protect Australia’s coal, oil and gas industry, one of the world’s top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions?”

“Cutting a trade deal with the UK Government with climate temperature commitments secretly removed is the latest act of wilful climate obstruction. It is embarrassing and shameful that Australia has been exposed as actively undermining the global Paris climate goal in this way”

“Boris Johnson pledged to the UK people that he would put climate action at the heart of the UK economy and diplomacy. He needs to personally intervene to hold the line against Morrison at a time when global cooperation on emissions reduction is more important than ever.”

Just last month the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, wrote to Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs reaffirming that any trade deal with Australia would, “include a chapter on trade and environment which not only reaffirms commitments to multilateral environmental agreements, including the Paris Agreement but also commits both parties to collaborate on climate and environmental issues. We are clear that more trade will not come at the expense of the environment.”


For more information contact Fiona Ivits on 0487 003 872 or [email protected]


Notes to editors

  1. The letter from the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Greenpeace promising that a trade deal with Australia would reaffirm Paris Agreement commitments is attached to this release.
  2. The United Nations recently ranked Australia last on climate action in a list of developed countries, and this week warned that failing to phase out coal will wreak havoc across the Australian economy.

Australia recently lobbied the UN World Heritage committee on a crucial vote to avoid having the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status downgraded to “in danger” from the impact of climate change.