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Canada and Australia Don’t Want To Play Along With U.N. Climate Summit

Political leaders from Canada and Australia, along with a few others, are skipping the U.N. climate summit today

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) on June 9, 2014 (PATRICK DOYLE/Reuters/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

At today's United Nations summit on climate change, leaders from 120 different countries have come to New York City to “set the tone” for a major climate conference next year—but there are some notable absentees. Political leaders from China, India, Russia, Australia, Germany and Canada will not be participating directly in the meeting. Instead, they'll be sending aides or ministers to participate in the discussions.

When scientists talk seriously about the prospect of global climate change, they always offer a range of future trajectories, each promising a different magnitude of warming. Right now, the world is racing towards the worst case scenario, says New Scientist. Forget 2°C of warming; we're looking at 3.2 to 5.4.

There's a lot of uncertainty around what humanity will do to stop this—will we slowly replace fossil fuels with renewables? Will we go cold turkey on carbon? Will we do nothing?

Yet while most countries seem to be rallying around a plan to fight climate change—even without their leaders' direct involvement in the summit—Inside Climate News says that Canada and Australia in particular are acting as detractors to this international agenda.

While a consensus is forming around setting a price on carbon and urgently converting to a carbon-free economy, Canada and Australia have turned themselves into an axis of carbon. If they attract others, this axis could become a potent force standing in the way of progress toward a universally binding pact.

Australia and Canada aren't doing much to fight climate change likely because they are both massive exporters of fossil fuels, says Inside Climate News:

Both countries are major sources of fossil fuels for the rest of the world. Canada is the world’s biggest exporter of oil to the United States and is pushing hard to win new export markets. Australia is the 10th biggest producer and second biggest exporter of coal in the world.

According to the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index, among developed nations Australia and Canada are doing the least to help fight climate change. The two countries were sandwiched between Russia and Iran near the bottom of the list, earning a “very poor” ranking to the United States' “poor.”

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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