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Former UN boss slams ‘free-riding’ Australia

Experts believe increased use of coal is partly to blame for rising carbon emissions. Photo: Getty

Experts believe increased use of coal is partly to blame for rising carbon emissions. Photo: Getty

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has named Australia amongst the four worst nations that have “effectively withdrawn” from efforts to fight climate change.

In his recently released Africa Progress report, Mr Annan listed Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia as the worst offenders.

“With one of the world’s highest levels of per capita emissions, Australia has gone from leadership to free-rider status in climate diplomacy,” the report claimed.

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Getty

Experts believe increased use of coal is partly to blame for rising carbon emissions. Photo: Getty

“By hedging their bets and waiting for others to move first, some governments are playing poker with the planet and future generations’ lives.

“This is not a moment for prevarication, short-term self-interest, and constrained ambition, but for bold global leadership and decisive action.”

Australia’s emissions of carbon, which scientists have linked to warming global temperatures, have trended upwards since the abolition of Labor’s carbon tax. Experts have attributed this trend, in part, to an increased use of brown coal.

Environment minister Greg Hunt defended the government’s efforts.

“I can say this, that we are deeply and absolutely engaged,” Mr Hunt said at a launch of a tree-planting initiative at Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

“We will be an ambitious and constructive and engaged player in the post 2020 negotiations.”

The UN report contrasted Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia with African nations, which Mr Annan’s report claimed were emerging as “front-runners” in cutting carbon emissions.

“Africa is well positioned to expand the power generation needed to drive growth, deliver energy for all and play a leadership role in the crucial climate change negotiations.”

The criticism of Australia was incidental to the report, which focussed mainly on the energy needs of the African continent in light of the threats of global warming.

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