COP31: Australia’s Olympic moment on greenwash


Australia is using its bid to co-host the world’s largest climate conference with Pacific nations to greenwash decades of climate inaction and future fossil fuel expansion, think tank the Australia Institute has warned.

Its new report, A Fair Cop31, urges the international community to think twice before awarding hosting rights to the 2026 United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP31) to Australia given that it is the world’s third-largest fossil fuel exporter and has over 100 new gas and coal projects in development.

Despite the Australian Government indicating that it will co-host the event with Pacific nations, the report notes that Australia has not acknowledged or met any of the conditions set by Pacific Leaders that would secure their support.

Australia’s bid to host the COP has been called “Australia’s Olympic moment on climate action” by its supporters, but the Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program Director, Polly Hemming, says that the Olympic metaphor should serve as a warning, not an inspiration.

“History shows us that the Olympics has often been used by countries with questionable credentials to sportswash their image. Australia’s bid to host the COP appears to be an attempt at greenwashing their planned fossil fuel expansion,” said Ms Hemming.

“Australia has said co-hosting the COP will repair its reputation. A better place to start would be to stop subsidising and approving new gas and coal projects.

“Awarding Australia COP hosting rights in anticipation of it changing its ways would be, at best, a case of putting the cart before the horse, and at worst, a case of rewarding a country for decades of recalcitrance.

“It would further undermine the already tenuous credibility of the COP process given that major fossil fuel producer the United Arab Emirates is hosting this year’s COP28 off the back of COP27 in Egypt,” Ms Hemming said.

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