In August 2021, Boris Johnson wrote a letter to Greenpeace, in which he said the UK’s 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.”
He added: “We are clear that more trade will not come at the expense of the environment.”
Just a month later, the UK government secretly ditched the climate pledge in the agreement with Australia.
In a leaked email seen by Greenpeace UK and Sky News, three senior ministers, Liz Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade), David Frost (Minister of State for EU Relations) and Kwasi Kwarteng (Secretary of State for Business) are named as agreeing to ditch references to the temperature commitments in the Paris Agreement on climate.
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 southern Hemisphere country’s government – which has a notoriously weak record on climate action.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK said: “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. 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.
“At the moment the public and parliament are being duped by the Prime Minister into thinking this deal is great for Britain when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.”
Boris Johnson’s promise that trade “will not come at the expense of the environment” turned out to be false, empty, two-faced and cynical. A month later the UK government secretly ditched the climate pledge in the trade agreement with Australia.
We sent this verdict to Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Lord David Frost and Kwasi Kwarteng for comment. No response from any of them.