Thursday, May 19

Mathias Cormann elected OECD head despite concerns over climate record | OECD


Former Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has been elected the new director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, sources close to the group told AFP.

The 51-year-old politician was elected “by a slim majority” during a meeting Friday of OECD ambassadors from 37 countries, which advises advanced economies.

Cormann, a power broker in the ruling center-right Liberal Party and Australia’s longest-serving finance minister, left parliament late last year to seek the highest post. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had promoted Cormann’s OECD credentials in calls with his international counterparts in recent months.

His candidacy was haunted by complaints from environmental groups that his record on climate change did not qualify him for the job.

Last week, international climate change groups and advisers on global fossil fuel change wrote to the OECD expressing “serious concerns” about Cormann’s leadership bid. Cormann’s role as Australia’s finance minister between 2013 and 2020 made it “highly unlikely” that he could play an effective role in advocating for ambitious action to cut emissions, the letter said.

Cormann had been in a government that abolished the country’s carbon pricing scheme, failed to commit to a zero net emissions target, kept fossil fuel subsidies and “acted as a blocker of international forums,” he added.

The OECD needed to be a leader in the fight against climate change, but Cormann had been part of efforts to thwart the action, the letter said.

Cormann emerged as one of the favorites for the position, defeating her main rival, Cecilia Malmström of Sweden, a former EU Trade Commissioner.

He will succeed Mexico’s Ángel Gurría, whose third five-year term ends in May.

Australia’s dependence on coal-fired power makes it one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita, and environmental groups have long lobbied the federal government to ditch fossil fuels, especially after the devastating wildfires of last year.

Despite his track record, Cormann put environmental action at the center of his campaign for the OECD position, arguing that the body “can and should provide important global leadership to drive ambitious and effective action on climate change.”

“As Secretary General of the OECD, I would work with member countries and partner organizations to implement all policies and analytical capabilities available through the OECD to help economies around the world achieve net zero global emissions by 2050,” he said. to The Guardian in February.

Cormann’s climate turn has sparked a mix of exasperation and bewilderment among climate analysts and former political partners in Australia, who say his rhetoric doesn’t match his track record.

In November, the leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt, wrote to all OECD member countries with a vote on Cormann’s candidacy, asking them to reject his application.

Bandt released a video message last Friday to the OECD, saying that if you wanted a leader with some credibility on climate change, “then Mathias Cormann is not your man.”


www.theguardian.com

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