Australia to Be ‘Active, Willing’ COP27 Participant, Bowen Says

(Bloomberg) — Australia, the developed world’s top polluter, will be an “active” and “willing” participant at an upcoming United Nations-led climate conference in Egypt, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said, even as the country’s exports of dirty fuels soar.

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The COP27 event is “an important opportunity to talk about what Australia brings to the table,” Bowen, also minister for climate change, told a press conference in Sydney Saturday. “It’s an important opportunity to help the rest of the world, to take the next step forward.”

Australia continues to earn a windfall from coal: prices have skyrocketed to records and futures contracts suggest they’ll remain at historic highs for years to come. Benchmark Newcastle coal futures Friday closed at $349 a ton, more than five times higher than two years ago. Forward contracts are mostly above $260 a ton through 2027. Not a single forward contract was above $75 just two years ago.

The cabinet has agreed to bid to host the COP31 gathering in 2026 as Australia hopes to drive clean energy in coming years, Bowen said. The resource-heavy nation is the largest carbon emitter per capita in the developed world, largely due to its addiction to coal and fossil fuels both at home and for exports.

“This will be an opportunity, if we win the bid, to show Australia’s capacity to help the world as a renewable energy powerhouse,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to work closely with our Pacific family, and we will seek to co-host the bid with the Pacific to help elevate the case of the Pacific for more climate action.”

The political narrative in Australia transformed in favor of renewables after a national election in May that put the Labor party in power and handed gains to the Green party and several independent lawmakers who campaigned on environmental platforms. New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged to end climate wars and followed up his election promises by introducing a Climate Change Bill aimed at cutting emissions 43% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

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