Last month Boris Johnson claimed 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”. The prime minister claimed that “more trade will not come at the expense of the environment”.
However, the reality was that Liz Truss, the trade secretary, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, decided to "drop both of the climate asks" from the text of the UK-Australia agreement in order to get it "over the line", according to the email from a senior official.
A binding section that referenced the “Paris Agreement temperature goals” was scrubbed from the accord after pressure from the Australian government – which has a notoriously weak record on climate action.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the government’s actions would signal the start of a “race to the bottom” and accused Boris Johnson of having lied about the issue.
“The UK government pledged to embed the environment at the very heart of trade, including supporting the Paris Agreement on climate and zero deforestation in supply chains,” Sauven said. “Signing an Australian trade deal with action on climate temperature commitments secretly removed is the polar opposite of everything Boris Johnson publicly pledged and rips the heart out of what the agreement stands for.”