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Australia receives first Fossil Award at COP25 for bushfire response by Prime Minister

Australia, Brazil and Japan all shared equally the first Fossil of the Day award of the United Nations Climate Conference COP25 in Madrid. A very moving statement was read out by one of the Australian Fridays For Future students in acceptance of the award for Australia.

With massive bushfires in late Spring comprising a 6,000 kilometre fire front, 1.65 million hectares burnt, the East Coast of Australia was on fire, with the smoke plume travelling over the Pacific, South America to the South Atlantic Ocean. An estimate of 1000 koalas killed along with other wildlife and their native habitats.

Clearly The Prime Minister Scott Morrison trivialising the bushfires, and not accepting the link between climate change driving early and more intense bushfires has struck a very raw nerve in the Australian public. We have a climate crisis and the Prime Minister is refusing to put the safety of the Australian public above ideology.

Watch the highlights video which explains the awards in 3 minutes:

Watch the 18 minute livestream video:

Here is the official Climate Action Network AWards citation:

t’s a tie! Three countries managed to equally rank first at being the worst!
Today’s fossil award goes to Australia, Brazil and Japan. They managed to be as bad as each other!

Prime Minister Scott Morrison Enjoying a game of cricket as fires rage in Australia

As Australia has been on fire in recent weeks – literally – with an astounding 6000-kilometre front of flaming destruction wiping out homes, forests, precious habitat and farmland, experts, one after another, connected the dots to climate change.

But not Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He made his view known on national radio declaring that Australia’s unprecedented bushfires were unconnected to climate change. And further, he said he doesn’t think that Australia doing more on climate would change fire outcomes this season, despite Australia being the world’s third biggest fossil fuel exporter.

Instead of taking responsible action on climate change, the Prime Minister made clear he was sending his thoughts and prayers to those who had suffered loss. Forget climate action, just thoughts and prayers.

He actually added fuel to the fire to stir up people’s anger. The same day as fires busily destroyed people’s lives, Prime Minister Morrison went to a cricket game, and happily posed with cricketers tweeting: “Going to be a great summer of cricket, and for our firefighters and fire-impacted communities, I’m sure our boys will give them something to cheer for.”

Deputy PM Michael McCormack chimed in for good measure, declaring that even raising the issue of climate change while fires were burning a ‘disgrace’ and the rantings of inner city raving lunatics.

Students have taken to the streets by the thousands calling for stronger climate action. The country has faced record breaking heat, extreme drought including the driest spring ever recorded and unseasonal bushfires. Yet, Australia’s Prime Minister has rejected climate as a driving force for the fires, rejected calls for stronger ambition and instead pointed to thoughts, prayers and cricket as the answer.

NGO’s are the scapegoats, Brazil has no one else to blame for the destruction of the Amazon

Imagine the following scene: a man with a gun breaks in a bank. Pointing at the manager, he says he is in deep debt, and demands his credit limits to be raised, because he used to be a good payer before he had that account. That scene is playing out right now at COP25. The baffled manager is the international community. The desperate assailant is Brazil, who came to Madrid demanding to be paid for burning down the Amazon forest.

Yes, you’ve read it right: Brazil, the former climate champion who cut emissions from deforestation in 80% in the past. Brazil, of samba, caipirinhas and savvy diplomats who brokered difficult deals in past COPs. Under the far-right, Trump-loving government of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil is telling the world here in Madrid that it will not negotiate until it gets paid to dump more CO2 into the atmosphere. That, hmm… creative negotiation tactic has earned Brazil the first Fossil of the Day of COP25.

President Bolsonaro’s special envoy to Madrid is Environment minister Ricardo Salles, who will no doubt update your definitions of “honest broker”. Salles was convicted for environmental fraud days before he took office. He lied to the media about having a master’s degree at Yale. He was sued for suggesting that Greenpeace was behind the massive oil spill in the Brazilian coast that he failed to respond to. And, the icing on the cake, he is a climate denier who famously said that COPs are nothing but luxury vacations to civil servants to debate the state of the world 500 years from now. One wonders what the heck are you doing here, minister? Did you fly business? How about coming back in 500 years?

In only 11 months, Salles and his boss have dismantled Brazil’s environmental governance, grounded enforcement agencies and frozen the world’s biggest Redd+ program, the celebrated Amazon Fund. The results have been an appalling increase in violence against indigenous peoples, an unprecedented surge in illegal logging and a 30% increase in deforestation this year – the highest in a decade. As a consequence, Brazil is sure to miss its 2020 deforestation reduction target and is totally off track on its NDC.

Several studies have indicated that deforestation rates in Brazil in a weak governance scenario can triple, with yearly emissions of up to 1.3 billion tonnes in the Amazon alone. That is not only a blow to Brazil’s Paris targets, but also to the 1.5C degree goal.

All that Mr. Salles has to say about this is “trust me”. We don’t think so.

Japan

The Japanese government received massive criticism over its coal addiction and expansion policy. And today, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama completely ignored the science. In response to a media question about the UNEP Emissions Gap Report recommendation about coal phase out in Japan, Minister Kajiyama said that he is adamant, Japan will continue using coal.

In a jiffy, Minister Kajiyama snubbed the international community and the Paris Agreement. Instead of showing a commitment to multilateralism and the climate, Minister Kajiyama showed commitment to destroying the planet and putting people in danger. Shame on you Japan if you don’t stop your coal addiction now.

About the fossils:
Every day at 18:00 local time you can watch the Fossil ceremony in Hall 4 during COP25.

The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their ‘best’ to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 1,300 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 120 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.

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