Environmental campaigners are expressing concerns at the election of former Australian finance minister, Mathias Cormann, to the position of the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Mr Cormann has previously called his country’s carbon tax and pricing efforts “a very expensive hoax” and “job destroying”.

Matthias Cormann - incoming OECD Head

Campaigners worried about Cormann’s credentials

Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of E3G, a climate-change think tank pointed, for instance, to Mr Cormann’s time in office. “OECD countries have just sent a dangerous signal by appointing someone with a track record of dismantling climate policy.”

Given Mr Cormann’s election, moreover, Mabey believes that this will “lower pressure” on world leaders to address climate issues.

Climate activists

Other campaigners wish to hold Mr Cormann accountable in his new role. This includes Nelli Stevenson, a spokesperson for Greenpeace Australia Pacific. “Cormann needs to work with OECD nations to reduce economic reliance on the dying fossil fuel industry”, she said.

Cormann underlines green pledge

However, on the announcement of his new role, Cormann was keen to highlight his green credentials. In a statement, he called, moreover, for “sustainable, cleaner growth” and “effective action on climate change to achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050”.

However, Greenpeace’s Stevenson was sceptical on this.

If Cormann is to be taken seriously in his newfound climate ambition he absolutely must provide the necessary leadership,” she said.

Power station

Meanwhile, the debate around decreasing C02 emissions is likely to remain a key topic on the global agenda this year.

For example, recent research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that December 2020 emissions were up 2% on December 2019 levels. This increase is despite emissions dropping overall by by their highest amount ever last year, according to the IEA.

Matthias Cormann, who was Australian Finance Minister from 2013-2020, takes up his new role on 1 June.

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