Fossil of the Day

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Dead Heat in First Fossil of the Day Awards of the Paris Climate Summit

As world leaders up the ante on the opening day of the Paris Climate Summit, the first place Fossil of the Day award is a double-act. New Zealand claim a top spot for rather hilariously, or not, urging countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies while shelling out big bucks to prop up fossil fuel production to the tune of $80 million.

Prime Minister John Key showed a degree of hypocrisy by claiming, at a Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform event, that New Zealand is a leader on fossil fuel subsidy abolition - despite the country’s fossil fuel production subsidies have increasing seven-fold since his election in 2008. His phoney grandstanding came just a week after claiming that New Zealand ‘doesn't need to be and shouldn't be a leader in climate change’. Are you getting mixed signals too? Or is it just us?

Joining New Zealand on the winners podium (drum roll please) for a first placed Fossil Award is Belgium! With environmental leadership as murky as a tall glass of weisse beer it's four governments from four different parties are still bickering over how to implement the existing EU climate and energy package from 2009, ensuring they were too busy to even consider doing the work necessary to prepare for the Paris Climate Summit.

Today Belgium is one of the few EU countries lagging behind on their carbon pollution reduction and renewable energy targets. There is such a severe state of gridlock in the Belgian environment office it's as if the minister ate 5 boxes of Guylian Chocolates in one sitting. Because of this blockage on a Belgian climate agreement the country also lags behind in providing sufficient and durable climate finance.

For Belgium... the train has left the station for COP21 - literally. This weekend the Environment Minister missed the train to Paris. Why? Because the government was negotiating the restarting of old nuclear power plants that were canned over a year ago. Way to go Belgium…backwards.


Three strikes and you’re out!

Strike One! Today’s first place fossil goes to Japan for their extremely weak INDC, for using smoke and mirrors (shifting baselines) to fake ambition, and for having the audacity to claim this is in-step with developed country 80% by 2050 targets. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe will present this weak excuse for an INDC - which equates to an 18% cut on 1990 levels - to G7 leaders this weekend, where he will presumably try to pull the wool over their eyes too. This INDC is not ambitious or fair.
Strike Two! The second fossil award goes to Japan for blocking a proposal from G7 countries that would help development aid and banks work in line with efforts to prevent global temperatures rising beyond the 2C degree threshold. Seriously, does Japan want to lead us towards a world with catastrophic levels of warming?
Strike Three! Japan wins the third fossil for funding carbon intensive coal projects in developing countries. Despite growing criticisms from international community - Japan was awarded a fossil in Lima for this dastardly behaviour - it continues to do so. As long as Japan keeps its dirty coal policy, the fossil awards will keep coming. Japan should be funding renewable energy solutions, not dirty coal.
You’re out! Japan get’s THREE fossil awards
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Umbrella and LMDC countries take fossil for failing on concept of “negotiation”

UN Climate Negotiations are a marathon, not a sprint - as we are enter the final lap here in Lima our last Fossil of the Day award goes to the Umbrella and LMDC groups of countries who are trying to take us all on a race to the bottom. At this crucial moment Umbrella and LMDC groups are taking extreme positions, avoiding crucial political discussions, and refusing to engage with proposals on the table. We are at a moment in the negotiations where countries need to show political leadership, to rise above narrow self-interest and make progress towards decisions that are for the larger, global good. 

Today’s second place Fossil is jointly awarded to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus for holding up an agreement on the Doha amendment that now means the KP rules for the second commitment period will be postponed until Paris. These unlikely allies have kicked the can down the road instead of achieving and important goal here in Lima. What is particularly frustrating is that Belarus and Russia barely engaged, for such minimal input they have allied with Ukraine to cause one massive headache for the rest of us.

Our third place Fossil of the Day goes to Canada who have managed to fly under the radar here in Lima, despite plenty of underhand work stalling the talks and refusing to make any commitments. Canadian negotiators have told observers on the ground in Lima they’re on track to meet 2020 emissions reductions targets - this is a bald-faced lie. Back at home the Canadian government keep pushing to expand the oil industry like its 1899! Pipe-down Canada. 

Our final and most infamous award is the Final Fossil of the day at COP20!

This year’s Fossil of the Year Award, goes to Australia who take the Colossal Fossil award for collecting more Fossil awards than any other country here at COP20. From the get-go Australia signalled they were not coming here to make progress towards a comprehensive international climate agreement. This was pretty clear when they sent a climate sceptic Trade Minister Andrew Robb along to “chaperone” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop into a negotiating dead-end. The delegation in Lima has been dragging down loss & damage, flip-flopping on climate finance, and making bizarre comments that reveal a warped perspective on climate action. Shape up Australia, you are making Canada look good!

Australia gets another Oi, to its Oi Oi Oi with 4th Fossil of the Day Award (4 out of 10, ouch)

Australia’s worsening status as a climate wrecker was given even more attention internationally with its fourth Fossil of the Day awarded today at the Lima COP20. It’s another dubious honour. It’s not an award the Prime Minister will be sending “straight to the pool room”- that’s for sure.

Even the spin doctors in the Abbott government will be scratching their flaky heads with what to do as these negative accolades roll on in. There have been ten days of Fossils awarded and Australia has won nearly half. Normally Aussies like to win things, but most sensible Australians would be shaking their heads at this.

So what did they do this time? Well the Australian Trade Minister who is here to ‘chaperone’ the Foreign Minister told big business leaders yesterday that his Government may not sign up to a new global deal if major trade competitors are not doing it to, he said Australia will not "get it in the neck". And heck he’s got a heck of coal to flog.

Robb’s a self professed climate sceptic, he’s travelling with BHP lobbyists here in Lima and he wanted to reassure everyone at the big end of town that those pesky developing countries got all they were ever going to get (you know that $200million over 4 years they pinched from the massively slashed Australian Foreign Aid budget.)

Minister Robb made it clear at the swanky event with big mining and big corporates that the Abbott Government may very well might not sign up to any agreement in Paris next year. That’s just not cricket Minister.  

Today we will also present a very unusual Ray of the Day - a “Pending” Ray. Japan have declared that the engagement of civil society in the INDC process is important - which is good. However, Japan is one of two countries (the other being the USA) that oppose webcasting meetings of the Green Climate Fund - an important element of transparency.

NGO participation and transparency are crucial in the INDC process. Since Japan is championing this position, and hopefully reflecting a similar sentiment at home, Japan is awarded a “Pending” Ray of the Day. When they stop blocking efforts to increase transparency in the Green Climate Fund, they can come and collect.


US and Japan in fossil double for trying to oust adaptation and loss & damage

Does anyone have an extra pair of spectacles to lend the US delegation here in Lima? Because they seem to be chronically short-sighted. These delegates represent a country that suffered severe flooding during Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. Yet, with the support of Japan, they are trying to remove adaptation and loss & damage from the ADP Decision text. For this reason our first-place Fossil of the Day award is a dead heat between the USA and Japan.

As highly vulnerable countries and communities know, you can't adapt to your island home going under water, you can't adapt to your farmland becoming desert, and you can't adapt to your family being killed in a typhoon. This is why it is vital for both adaptation and the separate issue of loss & damage to be included in the decision coming out of Lima, and in the final agreement next year.

Now, can we borrow a second pair of spectacles please? This time, they are for the Polish officials who can’t see that the writing is on the wall for the coal industry. IPCC science, people around the world, and country delegations at this COP are all calling for a fossil fuel phase-out. Poland win the second-place Fossil of the Day for being blind to the growing momentum behind the clean energy transition and proposing a range of new coal-related projects as part of a new EU 300 billion Euro stimulus package.

We are not sure that clarity of vision is an issue with our final fossil winner - spectacles won’t help here. Instead our third Fossil of the Day winner, Venezuela, could probably benefit from some more time spent with scientific advisors. This morning Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs clearly stated that “the problem of climate change is not because of the production of petrol, but for the irrational use of it”.

If we want to solve climate change it is important that all countries commit to leave fossil fuels underground and ensure a just transition to a renewable energy future.

It’s not all acrimony here in Lima, to show our appreciation for countries that have moved us closer to a fair and comprehensive climate agreement next year in Paris we have three Ray of the Day awards to present. The winners are Germany, Peru and Colombia who have all pledged climate finance that is vital for these negotiations and climate vulnerable countries. Germany pledged around $60 million to the adaptation fund in a demonstration of leadership we expect from all developed countries. Peru then pledged $6 million to the Green Climate Fund, they were soon matched by Colombia who pledged a further $6 million. A useful step forward, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Australia displays willful ignorance on scope for climate action


This is getting bizarre. Australia wins the Fossil of the Day Award...again! Is it lack of sleep? Is it the heat? Ministers are arriving and we are supposed to be getting serious but Australia is getting silly. They are making some very telling statements at this COP, statements that slip into the realm of willful ignorance, and that is why they get today’s fossil.

Here in Lima, Australia is saying that they don’t understand the concept of a “long-term temperature limit”. Have they ever put food in the oven with the heat raised to high? Or more seriously, have they bothered to read the World Bank’s Turn Down the Heat report? This outlines very clearly why we need to prevent long-term temperature rise above 1.5C or 2C, which countries have agreed to. 

Continuing their slapstick approach to these negotiations, Australia has also stated it doesn’t really understand the idea of “global solidarity” either. Has anyone on the Australian delegation seen a photograph of the earth from space? If not, then here’s a newsflash for them: we live in a single biosphere and we rely on communities all around the world for our security, food and health - we are all in this together when it comes to climate impacts. 

We all do silly things, but not all the time. Now is the time for Australia to shape up and take these negotiations seriously. Perhaps they should take a short course on the Cancun agreement on the global temperature threshold. Then, after Lima, their delegation and Prime Minister could visit some of the vulnerable islands off the coast of Australia or the drought and wildfire-stricken districts in their very own country - to learn why we need to weed out free-riders and act in global solidarity to tackle climate change.


Peru dragged back by leaden government policies



What a drag! So far the Peruvian Ministry of Environment has done some impressive work, as the President of COP 20, paving the way for climate action at this meeting. However, at the same the time, other elements in the Peruvian government are undermining broad, national efforts to tackle climate change - like a lead weight on a balloon. This incoherence is why Peru gets the Fossil of the Day award.

The government recently approved a law known as known as “Ley Paquetazo”, or in legal terms “Law 30230” which decouples environmental protection from economic growth. There are serious concerns that this new law severely weakens the ability of of environmental bodies in Peru to regulate and supervise economic activity, like power and infrastructure development, that impacts the environment.

In particular, we fear that by undermining the Ministry of Environment, elements of the Peruvian government are making it more difficult for Peru to take effective and adequate climate action in a way that addresses national, social issues. This is of real concern to the Peruvian people and will be discussed at the People’s Summit, that started today at the Exposition Park.

Saudi Arabia spreads prejudice in the process

Oh, what a horrible dream! The Saudi delegation seem to be dreaming of a world made out men, only men, and a stream of pollution. Today’s fossil goes to Saudi Arabia for spreading prejudice within the process. The Saudi delegation has spoken out strongly against the recognition of gender equality in the implementation process.

Over four days they attacked the vital content on gender equality, and the need to promote urgent and effective gender-responsive climate policy. Our new climate agreement needs to promote gender equality, to effectively attend the varying impacts that climate change has on women and men, and to accelerate the benefits of meaningful implementation.

The European Union fell in disgrace along with Saudi Arabia for supporting, in public, the withdrawal of gender equality language. Dear, oh dear!


Australia doubles down with dodgy call to bail on Green Climate Fund

Oh no, not again! Australia earns today’s first place Fossil of the Day. To mark her preparations for delicate climate negotiations Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that Australia will not contribute to the Green Climate Fund. While other countries are coughing up, like Norway who doubled their pledge, Australia is bailing out.

The Minister said Australia would rather pay for climate change adaptation in vulnerable South Pacific island nations through its aid budget, than donate to a U.N. Green Climate Fund dedicated to the same purpose. The problem is that Australia is cutting its foreign aid budget by $7.6 billion over the next five years. This means they are reducing money for climate impacted countries just as UNEP reveals the cost of climate adaptation could soar to $150 billion by 2030.

The Marshall Islands receives the illustrious Ray of the Day award for shining a light on an issue that has been lurking in the shadows - the time frame for INDC commitments, of course.

This bold island state has stepped forward to propose a 5-year timeframe for future mitigation commitments. A short time frame that prevents countries locking in low ambition, incentivises early action and can reflect the latest climate science. Now the proposal is on table, we hope it will be included in the new draft decision text and that it remains there, by agreement, at the end of this COP.

In the spirit of today’s COP theme, ‘Business and Industry Day’ or BINGO we have a special award. The Sly Sludge award, which goes to Royal Dutch Shell for their slick attempts to hijack the legitimacy of the COP to protect their business-as-usual strategies, and ultimately their bottom line.

Shell has been busy at the COP, touting the unproven potential of carbon, capture and storage (CCS) technology. They even turned up to push CCS at an IPCC-organized side event and have an event with other polluters on Monday. Conveniently, this techno-fix would enable the fossil fuel industry to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels at unprecedented rates. But this quick fix isn't fooling the rest of us, as is shown by the rapid increase in groups calling for fossil fuel divestment and the growing list of organisations and institutions (700+) that are shifting their money away from dirty energy.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 900 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 100 working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. 

About the fossils: 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 (, 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. 


Australia Wins Fossil on Lost and Damaged Position on Loss and Damage

Coo-eee! Australia has today taken first place in the Fossil of the Day. The dubious award was handed down after Australia said in an ADP session on the 2015 agreement that loss and damage should be an element of adaptation, not a standalone part of the Paris Protocol. But hear this, this stance is in direct opposition to the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts including those from AOSIS, the LDCs, the Africa Group, AILAC who want to see the agreement feature loss and damage as separate issue. not bundled into adaptation.

It is not possible to adapt to your farmland being turned into desert. It is not possible to adapt to losing your land due to rising sea levels. Not really that cool with another major Typhoon bearing down on the Philippines (incidentally the third during a COP) and with the IPCC warning that some climate impacts will soon be irreversible. The Aussies will lose mates on this one.

The European Union wins the second place Fossil of the Day Award for calling for a 10 year commitment period, a sure fire way to lock in low ambition in the future climate deal. No European Union, 10 year cycles is not the right timeline for the next deal. 

Five year commitment periods ending no later than 2025 is the approach you want to follow in order to capture the fast evolving dynamics of domestic political and energy situation.

Only this time frame will prevent us from locking in low ambition,. Only this time frame incentivizes early actions, and ensures the politics is linked to the latest climate science. 

EU, you must not pretend that your hands are bound by your 2030 climate and energy package towards 2030. There is no technical reason at all that you cannot put forward a target for 2025 based on what you have agreed in the package. 

The time to decide a common five year period is here and now in Lima, in order to enable countries to prepare their INDCs with a clear guidance on this 2025 timeframe. The quality of future climate regime is at stake, in a rapidly changing world where renewable technologies are becoming ever cheaper and competitive.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 900 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 100 working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. 

About the fossils: 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 (, 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.