Saturday, September 18, 2021

Australian climate action rated Highly Insufficient by Climate Action Tracker

The Climate Action Tracker, in a new report, has highlighted that Australia, in the leadup to the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow (COP26), is one of the climate action emission reduction and policy laggards. It categorised Australia in the Highly Insufficient category in the Overall rankings. It criticised Australia for effectively submitting the same Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) when the Paris Agreement calls for countries to increase ambition.

It called out Australia among a shortlist: "Of particular concern are governments - Australia, Brazil, Indonesia Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Viet Nam - that have failed to lift ambition at all – they have submitted the same or even less ambitious 2030 targets than they had put forward in 2015. These countries need to rethink their choice." 

The report due attention to the new IPCC report on climate science which has reinforced the absolute urgency of closing the 2030 emissions gap if there is to be any chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. 

The emissions Gap with NDC updates submitted so far in 2020–2021 have narrowed the gap to what is needed for 1.5°C only by up to around 4 GtCO2e, or up to 15%. This is far from sufficient to avoid passing the Paris Agreement temperature targets. There are still over 70 countries that have yet to submit an updated target.

2030 target far more important than longterm 2050 target

The report says that the most important target date is 2030. By this time "global emissions must be cut by 50%, and governments are nowhere near this. We estimate that with current actions global emissions will be at roughly today’s level in 2030, we would be emitting twice as much as required for the 1.5°C limit."

Of course Australia is one of several countries that have not even set a national net zero emissions target. Other countries in this situation include: India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey.

After highlighting need to phase out coal, the report singles out Australia for its gas expansion policies:

Following closely behind is gas, which is still - and falsely - being termed as a “bridging fuel” - but gas is still a fossil fuel, and still needs to be phased out as soon as possible. Australia, the world’s largest gas exporter, is of particular concern, with the government investing money into new gas exploration. 

Australia also gets an exception mention for transport emissions and conversion to zero carbon transport:

In terms of transport, many car producers and almost all governments (with some key exceptions like Australia) are realising that the future is electric, and moving toward adopting policies to promote electric vehicles, with a range of phase-out dates for combustion engine passenger vehicles. Key to decarbonising the transport sector is decarbonising the electricity sector: the two are inextricably linked. 

The report lists Countries where the rating got worse and why:

Australia: Australia is rated worse even if it has not updated its NDC, because we now also rate policies and actions, which currently fail to meet its NDC. The update of our fair share calculations for Australia leads to lower required emissions levels for the fair share contribution, mainly due to the update of the fair share temperature bounds from a 50% to a 66% likelihood (see above).

Australia’s fair share contribution is still relatively less stringent in comparison to other developed countries (e.g. Germany), because our method harmonises the data from studies to a recent historical data point (2017) and Australia also has relatively low cumulative emissions when compared with some other countries, particularly when emissions dating back to 1850 are considered. Since the publication of much of the literature we use, Australia’s emissions have increased, meaning that the harmonisation shifts the equitable contributions from the studies upwards. However, in, for example, Germany and the EU overall, emissions have decreased since then, meaning that the harmonisation method shifts the fair share contribution downwards. 

Australian Climate Finance assessed as Critically Insufficient

Annex 3 of the report details climate finance assessment. Australia ranked highly insufficient in this assessment. You can read more on Australia's climate finance in my recent blogpost: Australian climate finance falling far short of our fair share, getting worse. See Table 5 of the report below.


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