Monday, December 14, 2020

UN Secretary General calls for leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency

United Nations Secretary General at the Climate Ambition Conference called for all leaders to declare a climate emergency.

While previously aknowledging that we have a climate emergency, this is the first time Antonio Guterres has called for all Government leaders to declare a climate emergency.

The pandemic has cancelled this years UN climate change conference - COP26 - scheduled for Glasgow December 2020. But an online conference of leaders was organised to mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement: the Climate Ambition Summit.

Antonio Guiterres told the summit: "I call on leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.

"Five years after the Paris Agreement, we are still not going in the right direction.

"Let’s make the promise of a net zero world a reality."


The main UN Climate Conference, or Conference of the Parties (COP), has been rescheduled for November 2021.

This conference was to consider Article 6 procedures for the Paris Agreement rulebook on carbon markets to finalise the Rulebook for this agreement.

Under the Paris Agreement all countries were called upon to submit more ambituous climate action plans (known as Nationally determined contributions - NDCs) and targets for 2030. All Countries were also expected to submit long term climate goals.

Australia not invited to Speak

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued an invite to Australian Prime Minister to speak at the Climate Ambition Conference. But the speaking invitation came with strings: Australia needed to announce substantially new climate commitments.

So we saw a pivot in the last couple of weeks by the Prime Minister saying Australia would no longer need to use Kyoto Carryover Credits to meet our 26-28% emissions reduction by 2030 target on 2005 levels. There was never a legal basis that allowed for use of these credits anyway, but Australia pushed for their use at COP25 in Madrid in December 2019 which provided enormous distraction.

Would a commitment to not using shonky credits get us a speaking place? The Prime Minister thought so. But Internationally Australia has been undermining ambitiuos action since our tantrum in 1997 that allowed the Australia clause.

You noticed the baseline creep? While Europe and many other countries use a 1990 baseline, Australia's emissions baseline has crept to 2000, then 2005. This is another way of reducing the ambituosness of emissions reductions. While many other countries are playing a long game Par 5 golf fairway, we've moved our Tee off point half way down, more equivalent of a Par 3 hole.

Australia's 2030 target is exceptionally low and is not considered our fair share to reducing global emissions.

The Climate Change Authority released its Final Report on Australia’s Future Emissions Reduction Targets on 2 July 2015. The report recommended: a 2025 target of 30 per cent below 2000 levels, further deductions by 2030 of 40 to 60 per cent below 2000 levels

For 2005 emission levels the CCA 2025 target amounts to a reduction of 36 per cent, and a 2030 range of 45 to 63 per cent. (CCA PDF - Some observations on Australia's post 2020 emissions reduction target, 14 August 2015)

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