Thursday, December 13, 2018

Deciphering Australia's High Level statement to COP24 by Melissa Price



As I watched and listened to Australian Environment Minister Melissa Price statement on behalf of Australia to the High Level Segment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP24), I decided I wanted to annotate, correct falsities, mistruths or distortions and place her words into political historical context. I transcribed her speech, then circulated it inviting other people to add details. Several people did so, and I fact checked these contributions, but most of the annotation were my own.

Australia displayed a total lack of ambition, in stark contrast to quite a few other nations who made announcements of increased climate ambition actions.
  • No mention was made of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C
  • No mention was made on the need for raising Australia's ambition in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)
  • No mention of lifting Australia's targets, currently rated as insufficient.
  • No mention that Climate Finance has been incorporated as part of the Foreign Aid budget which has suffered substantial real reductions over the last four years.
  • No mention was made of Australia continuing to expand coal export trade and the protests and opposition to the Adani Carmichael mine.
  • No mention of latest energy policy announced by Energy Minister Angus Taylor for Federal Government support for existing and new coal fired power stations
  • No mention that Prime Minister Scott Morrison withdrew the minimal funding support to the Green Climate Fund in October 2018.
  • Some of the actions being lauded, such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Government actually tried to abolish but had been stymied by a hostile Senate.
  • Use of excess Kyoto credits as carryover to meet Paris 2030 targets not ruled out

The transcription was based on the UNFCCC on-demand video of the second part of the High Level Segment conducted on Wednesday 12 December 2018. An un-annotated version of Minister Price's speech to COP24 follows at the end.

See Also Tracking Australia's Environment Minister Melissa Price at COP24


Minister's SpeechAnnotation
Mr President, Ministers and colleagues, I thank Poland for hosting this important session of the Conference of the Parties.

Australia also pays tribute to Fiji, as the first Pacific COP Presidency and for excellent leadership on the Talanoa Dialog that has taken place over this year.

The clear message from the Dialog is that we must act and act together, because climate change affects us all. And Australia must play it's part.
Climate Action Tracker rates Australia’s actions as “Insufficient”, the equivalent of a 3C world: “Australia’s climate policy has further deteriorated in the past year, as it focuses on propping up the coal industry and ditches efforts to reduce emissions, ignoring the record uptake of solar PV and storage and other climate action at state level. The Australian government has turned its back on global climate action by dismissing the findings of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and announcing it would no longer provide funds to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). https://climateactiontracker.org/countries/australia/
Australia is committed to the Paris Agreement and to ensuring that we agree on a robust rulebook here in Katowice.
Australia has not ruled out using the carbon accounting loophole of using carry-over carbon credits from the Kyoto Agreement to meet Paris targets.
Under Kyoto Protocol (2007) Australia was given a special deal, known as “the Australia clause”, which allows the inclusion of carbon emissions from land clearing. https://theconversation.com/australia-hit-its-kyoto-target-but-it-was-more-a-three-inch-putt-than-a-hole-in-one-44731
(According to David Suzuki b/c the world was sick of us whining so much at the conference it was done to shut us up).
We are on track to meet and beat our 2020 Kyoto commitments. We are confident we will meet our 2030 target which represents a halving of emissions per person.
Climate Council: “The Australian Government’s own projections show that Australia is not on track to reach our national emissions reduction target of 26-28% target by 2030 (below 2005 levels). According to the government’s projections, in order to meet our current emissions targets, Australia will need policies to reduce emissions by an extra 868-924 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution between 2021-2030.”
https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/australia-not-on-track-to-meet-climate-targets/
The Guardian: 12 economists and scientists say: In a canter? Climate experts say Australia will not meet emissions targets
Anna Skabeck (The Conversation): Australia is not on track to reach 2030 Paris target (but the potential is there) https://theconversation.com/australia-is-not-on-track-to-reach-2030-paris-target-but-the-potential-is-there-102725
Around the world countries are laying the foundations for a low emissions global economy. Australia is no different.
Australia’s emissions are rising in large part due to our (world’s No 2) LNG exports. LNG is still high emissions, in some life cycle assessment comparisons worse than burning coal for electricity, but we only count the production emissions (and the accounting is poor) not the transportation or combustion. Same story coal. Methane though is 105x as potent a GHG over twenty years as CO2 (GWP20).
We have policies to align strong economic growth with emissions reduction. We are moving towards a new energy future, while ensuring energy remains affordable and reliable.
See Climate Action Tracker: “Australia’s climate policy has further deteriorated in the past year, as it focuses on propping up the coal industry and ditches efforts to reduce emissions, ignoring the record uptake of solar PV and storage and other climate action at state level. The Australian government has turned its back on global climate action
While the Australian economy has experienced 27 years of economic growth, we have driven our emissions per unit of GDP to it's lowest level in 28 years.
It’s total emissions we are measured against by the UNFCCC, not unit of GDP. See Greg Jericho - There is no way we will meet our Paris targets, and the Coalition couldn’t care less. https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2018/dec/04/there-is-no-way-we-will-meet-our-paris-targets-and-the-coalition-couldnt-care-less

Emissions in our electricity sector are falling driven by unprecedented investment in renewable energy. Australia has one of the highest rates of uptake of residential solar in the world.
Abbott Government reduced the large scale renewable energy target. Present Energy minister Angus Taylor confirms government 'won't be replacing' renewable energy target
https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/angus-taylor-confirms-government-won-t-be-replacing-renewable-energy-target-20180918-p504j1.html
Worth noting Bill Shorten has continually failed to confirm Labor would extend the MRET target beyond 2020 level (on ABC Insiders program and elsewhere). Exact position TBD at the national conference.
Residential solar take up driven by high cost of electricity from privatisation by conservative governments and a regulatory system that has favoured goldplatting transmission grid.
https://reneweconomy.com.au/electricity-sector-gold-plating-behind-sky-high-prices-not-renewables-14724/
Greg Jericho: “Electricity emissions are the low-hanging fruit of emissions. The hard work is to occur in reducing transport, stationary energy, agriculture and fugitive emissions.
Consider that in 2016 the annual emission of electricity and that of transport and stationary energy combined was roughly the same. Since then electricity emissions have decreased by 9.5Mt CO2-e, while transport and stationary energy emissions have increased by the same amount”


Our Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the World's largest Green Bank, has leveraged nearly $20 billion in low emissions technology investment.
Under Prime Minister Abbott the government attempted to abolish the CEFC and ARENA, and after the Senate stopped this process Prime Minister Turnbull reversed Government policy in 2016.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-23/government-reverses-decision-to-dump-renewable-energy-agencies/7269568
Australia has one of the world's largest reserves of lithium and we are investing in lithium mining to provide the resources that will fuel the battery storage revolution.
Not aware of any currently working subsidies to Lithium and/or Cobalt/Nickel miners. Regional Development Australia produced a report on the potential of WA for battery mineral processing and refinement. This might be a new announcement I think. Currently most of the resource is shipped to China for processing, refinement, fabrication of cells and manufacturing into batteries.
The Paris Agreement demonstrates how the international community can work together to solve the global problem of climate change.
Australia has still not upgraded 2020 targets after meeting conditions of the Copenhagen Accord. Our Paris Agreement targets are rated poor.
Australia believes that effective international action requires a clear understanding of what countries are committing to, and whether those commitments can be met.
So tell us now if you intend to apply Kyoto era carbon credits to Paris targets, New Zealand has already ruled this trick out to encourage other nations to do same.  
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/new-zealand-rules-out-using-kyoto-credits-for-paris-australia-shtum-20181211-p50llv.html
Paris is premised on parties working together, collectively and transparently. It is in this cooperative spirit that Australia shares our science, our skills, our experience with others.
Australia belatedly joined Coalition of High Ambition in December 2015, but then failed to bring the necessary ambition.
https://takvera.blogspot.com/2015/12/australia-joins-coalition-of-high.html
But Australia was not invited to the post-Paris “Coalition of High Ambition” talks including some 70 odd countries due to recognition that Australia under Julie Bishop (and her chaperone and DFAT staff)  played a blocking role at the Paris Talks. So much for working with the global community.
In 2016 CEO appointed by Government slashes climate science jobs. Nature: Job cuts in Australia target climate scientists
https://www.nature.com/news/job-cuts-in-australia-target-climate-scientists-1.19313

Our emissions reporting is of an exceptionally high standard. We are proud of this and welcome the opportunity to partner with countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Kenya to share our experience in emissions measurement, reporting and verification.

It’s actually not. Agricultural emissions within the UNFCCC are very opaque. 100 year accounting needs to be accompanied with 20 year accounting so Short Lived Climate Pollutants are represented in a way that reflect the short term warming (damage) they do.
On LULUCF Climate Action Tracker says: - “not clear how these projections take into account the alarming increase in deforestation rates observed and projected in particular in Queensland, where about 395,000 hectares of native vegetation were cleared in 2015-16, 33% more than the previous year (Queensland Government, 2017). Australia the only developed country deforestation hotspot in the world, with estimates that three to six million hectares of forest could be lost by 2030 in Eastern Australia (The Guardian, 2018c; WWF, 2018).
We also work with countries around the world on energy solutions, such as through the international solar alliance based in India.
International Solar Alliance started by India at COP21 in 2015. Australia became 35th member in July 2017. We were a bit of a laggard, but good to see we finally joined.
Australia is using our natural resources to provide the low emissions fuels of the future. Our Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) exports could save importing countries around 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, and we have huge potential to produce hydrogen.
The Guardian: Gas boom fuels Australia's third straight year of rising emissions. LNG was major contributor to 1.5% rise in year to December 2017, government data shows
The expansion in LNG exports and production is identified as the major contributor to the increase, but the data shows a jump in emissions across all sectors – including waste, agriculture and transport – except for electricity, the one area that recorded a decrease in emissions.
In particular, the department’s data shows a 10.5% increase in fugitive emissions from the production, processing, transport, storage, transmission and distribution of fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, driven by an increase of 17.6% in natural gas production. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/14/gas-fuels-australias-third-straight-year-of-rising-emissions

In 2018 we were proud to begin building a hydrogen supply chain from the La Trobe Valley to Japan.
Environment Victoria has the dirty details on this pilot scheme that will not use any CCS. The pilot project will use 160 tonnes of coal, produce 100 tonnes of CO2 [1], and produce just three tonnes of hydrogen to be exported to Japan. The CO2 will not be sequestered with CCS at a cost of $100 million - $50m each from the Victorian and Federal Governments.
https://environmentvictoria.org.au/2018/07/13/converting-brown-coal-to-hydrogen-the-dirty-details-on-another-coal-boondoggle/
Australia is also playing it's part to support countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Since 2013 Australia’s official aid budget has fallen by 30 per cent even though overall government spending has grown by 10 per cent in that period. In dollar-terms Australia’s aid spending is now lower than it was a decade ago.
In 2014-15, our aid budget reached its largest size: $5.054 billion (or $5.428 billion in 2018-19 prices). In 2018-19, Australian aid is about $4.161 billion.
At its height, the aid budget was equivalent to $245 per Australian (2018-19 prices). In 2018-19, we are spending $164 per Australian on aid. Australian aid reached its least generous level ever by 2017-18: just 0.23% of Gross National Income. Based on budget projections, this will decline even further. Aid generally accounts for around 1% of the total spending in the Federal Budget, however this is also declining.
Australia is implementing its commitment to one billion dollars on climate finance to 2020, with a particular focus on building resilience in the Pacific, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world.
Lowy Institute: The development agency Oxfam has reported that based on relative economic strength and contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, Australia's total contribution from public and private sources should reach at least AU$3.2 billion per year by 2020, with at least half being public funding for adaptation.
Even more conservative 'effort sharing' methodologies have estimated that Australia's responsibility and capability requires a massive increase from current pledges. ANU researchers have proposed that 'a fair share for Australia may be around 2.4% or US$2.4 billion a year.'
https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/finding-australia-fair-share-climate-finance
Robust implementation guidance for the Paris Agreement will ensure action by all countries.
We need a high degree of implementation guidance, but that also needs to be applied to Australia especially around accounting for levels of land clearing,deforestation and LULUCF. Climate Action Tracker: “ Analysis of the effect of the NDC on likely fossil fuel and industriali GHG emissions is made difficult by the fact that the NDC target includes LULUCF emissions, which are substantial and fluctuate significantly (Figure 2 under “Data Sources and assumptions” in our Australia report). We have estimated levels of emissions excl. LULUCF resulting from the NDC by subtracting projected emissions for the LULUCF sector in 2030 from the targeted level incl. LULUCF. We estimate that the NDC translates into emissions levels of 431–443 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF, equivalent to 3% to 6% above 1990 emissions levels excl. LULUCF.”
Australia calls on all parties to work together to secure a comprehensive, robust rule book. Common rules will lead to action to achieve our shared goals.
A good start would be accepting the basic science, including the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C. Australia was silent in the debate in SBSTA to note or welcome this report, however the  Environment Minister Melissa Price had rejected the findings of this report, especially on the need to rapidly phase out coal, in the Australian Parliament when it was published in October.



Environment Minister Melissa Price speech to COP24 for Australia

Mr President, Ministers and colleagues, I thank Poland for hosting this important session of the Conference of the Parties.

Australia also pays tribute to Fiji, as the first Pacific COP Presidency and for excellent leadership on the Talanoa Dialog that has taken place over this year.

The clear message from the Dialog is that we must act and act together, because climate change affects us all. And Australia must play it's part.

Australia is committed to the Paris Agreement and to ensuring that we agree on a robust rulebook here in Katowice.

We are on track to meet and beat our 2020 Kyoto commitments. We are confident we will meet our 2030 target which represents a halving of emissions per person.

Around the world countries are laying the foundations for a low emissions global economy. Australia is no different.

We have policies to align strong economic growth with emissions reduction. We are moving towards a new energy future, while ensuring energy remains affordable and reliable.

While the Australian economy has experienced 27 years of economic growth, we have driven our emissions per unit of GDP to it's lowest level in 28 years.

Emissions in our electricity sector are falling driven by unprecedented investment in renewable energy. Australia has one of the highest rates of uptake of residential solar in the world.

Our Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the World's largest Green Bank, has leveraged nearly $20 billion in low emissions technology investment.

Australia has one of the world's largest reserves of lithium and we are investing in lithium mining to provide the resources that will fuel the battery storage revolution.

The Paris Agreement demonstrates how the international community can work together to solve the global problem of climate change.

Australia believes that effective international action requires a clear understanding of what countries are commiting to, and whether those commitments can be met.

Paris is premised on parties working together, collectively and transparently. It is in this co-operative spirit that Australia shares our science, our skills, our experience with others.

Our emissions reporting is of an exceptionally high standard. We are proud of this and welcome the opportunity to partner with countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Kenya to share our experience in emissions measurement, reporting and verification.

We also work with countries around the world on energy solutions, such as through the international solar alliance based in India.

Australia is using our natural resources to provide the low emissions fuels of the future. Our Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) exports could save importing countries around 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, and we have huge potential to produce hydrogen.

In 2018 we were proud to begin building a hydrogen supply chain from the La Trobe Valley to Japan.

Australia is also playing it's part to support countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Australia is implementing its commitment to one billion dollars on climate finance to 2020, with a particular focus on building resilience in the Pacific, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world.

Robust implementation guidance for the Paris Agreement will ensure action by all countries.

Australia calls on all parties to work together to secure a comprehensive, robust rule book. Common rules will lead to action to achieve our shared goals.

Thankyou.



Other media coverage:



  • Commentary
































    Exit stage right:


  • No comments:

    Post a Comment