International climate change groups and influential advisers on global fossil fuel change have written to the OECD expressing “grave concerns” about the candidacy of Australian politician Mathias Cormann to be its next secretary general.
Former Australian Finance Minister Cormann’s track record in a government that “persistently failed to take effective action” to cut emissions while blocking international action meant that he was “not a suitable candidate,” the letter says.
Cormann is one of only two candidates left for the top OECD post after two candidates, Swiss banker Philipp Hildebrand and Greek politician Anna Diamantopoulou, retired earlier this week.
Corman’s decision to put climate action at the center of his campaign has drawn sustained criticism from environmental groups in Australia who have pointed to the record of the coalition government in which he was minister.
The OECD is expected to appoint its new secretary general this month, with Swedish politician and former EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström the only other candidate left standing.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promoted Cormann’s OECD credentials in calls with his international counterparts in recent months.
Among the 29 signatories to the letter They are the heads of Greenpeace International, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International and a coordinating organization of climate campaign groups, Climate Action Network International.
Also among the signatories are Professor Rachel Kyte, a former World Bank special envoy on climate, and Farhana Yamin, a British environmental cape who is an advisor to a group of 48 countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts.
Several Australian groups are signatories, including Oxfam Australia, The Wilderness Society, The Australian Conservation Foundation, and state conservation councils.
The letter to Christopher Shamrock, Chairman of the OECD Selection Committee, says: “As the world begins the monumental task of recovering from Covid-19 in the context of the need to take urgent systemic measures to prevent a climate catastrophe will further entrench poverty and inequality, we strongly believe that Mathias Cormann’s public record should prevent him from being selected as the new Secretary General of the OECD ”.
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 says.
Cormann had been in a government that had abolished a carbon pricing scheme, persistently failed to take effective measures to reduce emissions, and “acted as a blocker with international forums.”
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.
Earlier this week Shamrock issued a summary of the last selection meetings. Once the OECD members ranked their preferences for the position, the candidates from Greece and Switzerland withdrew.
Cormann has placed climate action and a “green recovery” from the economic downturn of the Covid-19 pandemic at the center of his campaign.
Last month he told The Guardian that he would work with countries to implement all available policies and analytical capabilities “to help economies around the world achieve global net zero emissions by 2050.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism