Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Biden Climate Summit: Australia Fails to Deliver, remains a global outsider and climate laggard

Here is a quick summary in graphic and point form where the main countries line up on climate commitments at the end of the Climate leaders summit organised by USA President Joe Biden in his first 100 days of leadership:


Prime Minister Scott Morrison made:
  • no change in Australia's low targets.
  • no commitment to net zero by 2050 target.
  • produced meaningless statistics that don't stack up
  • slagged off the work of other countries
  • talked up hydrogen without explaining much of this will be blue hydrogen from coal and gas
  • thanked some of Australia's highest emitting companies, part of the problem
  • tried to carve out emissions from our fossil fuel exports (Australia is 3rd largest carbon exporter)
  • talked up the hired help: Allan Finkel and his contribution (including to the gas led recovery)

Scott Morrison on Canadian Prime Minister J.Trudeau:
"..I noticed 1 large economy last night who made a big commitment - very big commitment - 45% reduction by 2030 - they've also announced a $170 per tonne carbon price. I won't be doing that in Australia. I will be getting there by technology. Not taxes."

So what else happened at the summit? 

There were some substantial targets announced. These included:
  • USA President Biden announced new 2030 target of 50-52% below 2005 levels,
  • Japan pledged to cut emissions 46% below 2013 levels by 2030, up from its existing 26% goal. The target would be equivalent to 40% below 1990 & 39% below 2018 levels.
  • Canada revises its 2030 target to 40-45% below 2005 CO2_eq emissions level by 2030. Paris 2015 NDC was set at 30%.
  • UK govt revises target to 78% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, relative to 1990 levels. For the 1st time, it will formally include international aviation & shipping
  • Europe agrees to cut CO2 emissions 55% by 2030
  • South Korea announces an end to its international coal financing. Will increase target from 24.4% cut by 2017 levels but hasn't said what. Emissions peaked in 2018.
  • China says will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.
  • Chile advances proposal to fully protect an area of the High Seas, following a call to urgently protect Antarctic waters. Also commits to renewables based green hydrogen 
  • Argentina will strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions, and end illegal deforestation.
  • South Africa announces will strengthen NDC, shift emissions peak year ten years earlier to 2025. South African President Ramaphosa committs to 17 gigabytes of renewable energy by 2030.
  • New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden articulated 4 clear actions: 1) Price carbon, 2) Mandate financial carbon disclosures, 3) End fossil fuel subsidies, 4) finance adaptation
  • Republic of Marshall Islands first to strengthen NDC’s in 2018, currently developing a national adaptation plan, calling for 50% of Climate Finance to go toward adaptation. Also pushing for a carbon levy at International Martime Organisation
  • Gabon & the DRC’s commits to green recovery & nature based solutions
  • USA announces International Climate Finance Plan, including promise to double US climate finance by 2024 & triple funding to help vulnerable nations cope with climate impacts in a bid to showcase US commitment to climate action.
Here are the laggards, Australia first among them. 

A number of G20 countries are still missing in action or have even backtracked on commitments:
  • Australia did not announce stronger 2030 targets, referencing only a preference to reach to net zero at an unspecified date depending upon technology development.
  • Brazil’s President Bolsonaro did not announce a stronger 2030 target, but brought forward the country’s climate neutrality goal by 10 years from 2060 to 2050. Changes in the baseline of the Brazilian 2030 target made earlier this year, which effectively weakens the target, casting a shadow over the sincerity of this revised climate neutrality pledge.
  • Mexico has weakened its target and promised to continue oil exploration.
  • India also did not announce any new target, but rather reiterated its 2030 renewable energy target.
  • Turkey reiterated its old target and has yet to ratify the Paris Agreement.
While there was progress made with announcements since September last year, the 2030 emissions gap has narrowed by around 12-14% (2.6-3.7 GtCO2e), according to a provisional post-Summit analysis by the Climate Action Tracker. The largest contributions came from the US, the EU+UK, China and Japan.

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) released a statement on 28 April arguing while the increased action was going in the right direction, that the climate commitments are not ambitious enough to save Pacific Island nations from the threat of climate change.  (See Statement below)






Former Australian diplomat Richie Merzian, Climate and Energy director from the Australia Institute, dissects the Biden Climate Summit from an Australian perspective in this video:


So how does Australia compare with some other signifucant countries in the change in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005? This grpah was tweeted out by Ketan Joshi... Australia is well above the pack



Pacific Islands Climate Action Network statement on Biden summit

Climate targets from U.S. Climate Summit are not ambitious enough to save the Pacific.

 Suva, 28th April 2021

Whilst welcoming the U.S government’s step into the right direction of increasing its climate targets, the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network states that the climate commitments are not ambitious enough to save Pacific Island nations from the threat of climate change.

The Summit which was convened by the U.S on the 22nd and 23rd of April as part of the Biden administration’s 100-day pledge saw key major economies such as the U.K, Canada, Japan, and the U.S. announcing new climate targets.

“The climate targets announced are not sufficient and are not aligning to what the scientific community as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been calling for, which is to reduce emissions and limit global warming to 1.5celsius. The Pacific communities are already knee or waist-deep in experiencing this existential threat and the economic costs alone are already in the billions - a burden that is now being borne by Pacific Island governments and their taxpayers. Our governments are having to dig deeper into their treasury to fund for climate adaptation and loss & damage, which is something the U.S. and other industrialized nations should be doing, and these countries must set up a new window for financing loss and damage”, says Lavetanalagi Seru, the Climate Justice Project Officer for the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network. 

The UN Environment Programme 2020 Emissions Gap Report warns that the current climate pledges will limit global warming to no less than 3.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, whilst the NDC Synthesis Report released by the United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change had highlighted that the emission reduction ranges to meet the 1.5°C temperature goal should be around 45 per cent lower than current targets. Globally, the top four emitters, China, the USA the EU27 + UK and India contribute 55% of total emissions, while the Group of 20 [G20] accounted for 75% of total emissions.

“The re-engagement of the USA in the global fight against climate change is warmly welcomed. However, the lack of new climate finance commitments coming from the summit is alarming given the urgency of addressing climate change impacts in vulnerable countries in the Pacific. The Pacific countries right now are fighting a battle on two fronts; COVID-19 and climate change, and without urgent and scaled-up support from developed countries such as the USA, Canada, Japan and others, the chances of our economies, surviving really looks bleak. We need the USA and its developed country parties’ allies to step up now and fulfil their obligations as per the Paris Agreement not only in terms of cutting their emissions but also in providing the necessary financial support to vulnerable countries”, says Dr. Jale Samuwai, the Climate Finance Advisor for Oxfam in Pacific.

“Climate change should not be treated as business as usual by developed countries; rather they need to live up to their emission targets to keep this earth a safe place. We the people living with disability are increasing and becoming more, and more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme events. Imagine, we are dying because of our inability as compared to able people. The responsibility of saving our life should be everyone's business, we must not go beyond 1.5 degrees. Act now to save life and humanity and the earth. For nothing about us is without us” stated Ms. Melvina the Climate Change Officer for the People with Disability in the Solomon Islands. 

The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network continues to work with regional and international partners to call on developed countries for more urgent and concrete actions to combat climate change. This also includes pursuing a UN General Assembly Resolution seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States under international law to protect the rights of current and future generations from the adverse effects of climate change; and calling for financial support and compensation for the most vulnerable who are already experiencing loss and damage.

The Pacific Island Climate Action Network (PICAN) is the largest network of civil society organizations in the Pacific Islands working on climate change. Established in 2013, the Network brings together non-government actors from across the Pacific island countries, advocating for climate justice and environmental integrity, and more ambitious climate change policies and action at the national and regional level. PICAN is the Pacific arm of the global Climate Action Network which has over 1,100 members in 120 countries.


References:
US State Department - Leaders summit on Climate

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