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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Deconstructing Australia's National statement on climate action at COP26 delivered by Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the UN climate change conference COP26 and made Australia's national statement speech in Glasgow in the early hours of Tuesday morning. I have provided the statement below in paragraph form along with a factcheck and debunk alongside to better understand and unpack the information.

At the leaders summit the following new commitments were made (Australia's barely gets a mention in finance): 

  • India, Thailand, Nepal, Nigeria and Vietnam make new net zero pledges which now means that 90% of the global economy is covered by net zero commitments. 
  • India’s announcement also included a suite of ambitious 2030 commitments, including  500GW non fossil fuel power capacity, 50% energy requirements from renewable sources and 45% reduction of the carbon intensity of the economy. 
  • New NDC announcements from: Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, India, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique and Thailand 
  • New Long-Term Strategies announced or submitted by Jamaica, Kazakhstan and the USA. 
  • On climate finance, we’ve seen new commitments from: Ireland, Spain, Australia and Luxembourg.

Scott Morrison SpeechFactcheck and Debunk

PRIME MINISTER: There is cause for optimism as we gather here.

18 months ago we were staring into the abyss of a one in hundred year pandemic. The vaccines we would need had not only not been invented, but there had never been a vaccine for a Coronavirus.

But here we are. Billions vaccinated and the world is reclaiming what COVID has taken from us.

There is cause for optimisim at COP26 from those countries stepping up on mid term 2030 emissions reduction ambition, increasing climate finance on mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage. Australia has not brought any new 2030 target, climate finance has increased slightly but not to our fair share contribution.

We learned, to varying degrees, to listen to the science on pandemics, virology, vaccinology and epidemiology. Investments were made in vaccine technology, and vaccine development was fast-tracked. We learned new behaviours implementing non-paharmaceutical interventions while awiating vaccines.

The challenge of combating climate change will be met the same way.

Yes, we need to listen to the science and the solutions proposed, such as the Production Gap Report, Emissions Gap report, IPCC 6th Assessment report.

The Australian Federal Government was responsible for Quarantine and vaccines in managing the pandemic in Australia. The role of quarantine was mostly shifted to the states and implementation of inadequate hotel quarantine. There was a failure to build purpose built quarantine stations with proper infection control until relatively late. On Vaccines the Federal Government failed to procure enough mRNA vaccines, much delaying the vaccine program of Australia's population. It has been the actions of Australian states that have reduced the number of deaths during the pandemic in Australia.

Australia's National COVID‑19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) first proposed a gas led recovery program in early 2020. It has been assessed as failing to reduce energy prices or create jobs but will increase emissions.As of July 2020, Fossil fuels get four-times more Covid stimulus than renewables.

And it will be met by those who are frankly largely not in this room. It will be our scientists, our technologists, our engineers, our entrepreneurs, our industrialists and our financiers that will actually chart the path to net zero.

It also requires the right policies and targets to be put in place, a regulatory environment to stimulate investment in decarbonisation pathways. Under Prime Minister Tony Abbott the market mechanism of carbon pricing was abolished. The present government has been in power for eight years with few plans to reduce emissions to provide the investment environment for decarbonisation.

And it is up to us as Leaders of governments to back them in.

Australia has not been backing our scientists, our technologists, our engineers, our entrepreneurs, our industrialists and our financiers with solutions. Australia approved 3 new coal mines in October, another 20 in the pipeline. 3 new gas basins are being opened up, despite the IEA roadmap to net zero 2050 saying no new fossil fuel projects should be started.

Australian government support for research and development is at the lowest level since 2005.

See Australia Institute Bending the Trend report

Technology will have the answers to a decarbonised economy, particularly over time. And achieve it in a way that does not deny our citizens, especially in developing economies, their livelihoods or the opportunity for a better quality of life.

Technology is never neutral. Good policies on taxation, carbon pricing, and standards such as capping vehicle emissions, building standards are also needed.

Australia is refusing to sign up to Global Methane Pledge to address agricultural and fossil fuel methane emissions for short term climate action.

There needs to be substantial low carbon technology transfer to developing countries to skip fossil fuel dependant pathways.

Driving down the cost of technology and enabling it to be adopted at scale is at the core of the Australian Way to reach our target of net zero emissions by 2050 that we are committing to at this COP26.

Australia's Technology Investment Roadmap is part of the present governments ideologicial slogan 'technology not taxes' which prioritises carbon capture and storage and using this for fossil fuel production of hydrogen (blue hydrogen) to enable the claim it is clean hydrogen. It wants to direct money in Australia's Green bank development programs for CCS and blue hydrogen. The roadmap has given a low priority to implementing offshore wind in Australia, with regulatory legislation just being passed to allow offshore wind to proceed. An Asian Renewable Energy hub to export renewables to Singapore has been recently denied approval. There are no emissions reduction targets in the roadmap.

Cleaner technology solutions must outcompete existing technologies if they are to be successful everywhere, and especially so in developing economies.

Renewables are already cheapest new power generation. Costs of Batteries for storage are fast reducing. Opportunity for pumped hydro to also provide energy storage. The work of Andrew Forrest in establishing a renewables electrolyser manufacturing plant at Gladstone is the type of invetment we need for to drive down costs for the hydrogen economy.

This needs to work not just in the developed economies of the North Atlantic, but in the developing economies of the Indo Pacific as well.

Renewables, microgrids, energy efficiency can more adequately provide energy than fossil fuel based development for developing economies. See the work of IRENA on Grid Integration for Islands.

Raising the cost of energy just impacts on those who can afford it least.

Renewables are already much cheaper than fossil fuel cost of energy. See IRENA Competitive power generation costs make investment in renewables highly attractive as countries target economic recovery from COVID-19, new IRENA report finds.

Driving the emergence of low-emissions technologies and fostering their widespread adoption is at the heart of our plan to reach net zero.

The 'plan' is a fraud with no modelling yet released. See Fact-checking & Debunking Morrison's Net Zero 2050 'Plan' | Good COP Bad COP. Over 35% of the plan is dependant on magical technologies, according to technologist Mike Cannon-Brookes

And that’s why we’ve set cost targets for clean hydrogen, low cost solar, low carbon steel and aluminium, energy storage, carbon capture and storage and soil carbon.

Driving down the cost of renewables hydrogen is important, but the present plan prioritises CCS and blue hydrogen technologies that embeds fossil fuel production and emissions. See CCS debunked in an honest Government Ad (with references), and Carbon Capture & Storage Failure | Spin Bin with Angus Taylor

Investment in Renewables hydogen for green steel and aluminium is welcome, as is investment in energy storage and soil carbon. (But there are many issues with soil carbon

And we’re not starting from scratch – 90 per cent of commercial solar cells globally use Australian technology.

True, much of the research on solar cell efficiency has been developed in Australia, but then commercial scaleup and production done overseas.

Australia has the best rates of rooftop solar in the world.

Australia's high takeup of solar was driven by early state based early rebate and feed-in-tariff policies, not the Federal Government. Driven by citizens in installing residential PV to reduce power costs and emissions.

Our installation of renewables is eight times faster than the global rate and three times faster than some of the most advanced economies in Europe.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor announced in 2018 that Renewable Energy Target that drives utility scale wind and solar generation would not continue past 2020.

We have already reduced emissions by more than 20 per cent since 2005 and 54 per cent as an emissions intensity measure. We’re ahead of the pack. Over the same time, our economy has grown by 45 per cent, proving that economic growth is not at odds with emissions reduction.

Most of that 20 per cent reduction has been from reduction in land clearing. 2005 was a peak in landclearing, like 1990 was for the Kyoto Protocol and the Australia clause, which allowed Australia to increase emissions by 8 percent. In Madrid in 2019 Australia wanted to be able to carry roll over excess Kyoto credits for the Paris Agreement, undermining the negotiations. While electricity and agriculture sectors have seen a recent fall, this has been compensated by some other sectors, particularly fugitive emissions and transport seeing a rise in emissions. If you exclude LULUCF emissions we are performing worse than some comparable countries.

See Australia Institute report from May 2021: New Analysis: Australia doing less than other countries on climate

And by 2030 our nationally determined contribution here at COP26 notes that our emissions in Australia will fall by 35 per cent by 2030, far exceeding our Paris commitment. Australia meets and beats on its commitments. And we are doubling our initial climate finance commitment for our pacific family and south East Asian partners to $2 billion committed here at COP26.

Australia refused to update its NDC with a new 2030 climate target. Projections show BAU will likely achieve 30-35% reduction by 2030, ClimateWorks modelling shows state governments have already set a de facto emissions target of 37 - 42 percent by 2030 based on a 2005 baseline. Business Council of Australia argued for 46-50% 2030 emissions target. A science based target is for Australia to aim to reduce emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035.

The increase in Australia's climate finance is welcome, but it is still substantially less than our fair share to the $100 billion per annum commitment for 2020-2025. Australia had already committed AU$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) for climate finance for 2021–2025 (Government of Australia, 2020). Australian NGOs called for an immediately doubling of Australia’s current climate finance to $3 billion over 2020-2025, and also by 2023, shape regional and global climate responses by committing an additional $700 – $990 million to the Green Climate Fund; by 2030, scale up Australia’s climate finance to meet its fair share of $12 billion annually.

Looking forward we are forging technology partnerships domestically and abroad - with Singapore, Germany, the UK, Japan, Korea and Indonesia — and we are close to concluding one with India.

Yes, we need these technology partnerships. But they need to be underpinned with Government investment in domestic research and development, and that has not been taking place at a sufficient level.

Australia is investing over $20 billion dollars over the next decade to drive the transition, leveraging private sector investment to reach $80 billion dollars in total.

Most of this is finance in the Technology Investment Roadmap for CCS and Blue Hydrogen, some for ARENA and CEFC (which the goverrnment wants to redirct through regulations into CCS and blue hydrogen technology). No new policies, no costed plan beyond 2030.

We are also working to establish high-integrity offsets internationally. Working with our close friends and neighbours in the Indo-pacific.

Australia already has an integrity problem with hot air forest carbon credits. Listen to Folow the Money - junk credits podcast.

Australia has just signed an agreement with Fiji for high integrity offset credits. So in essence companies like Santos can expand gas production from new basins and be able to buy credits to offset the increase in gas emissions. All while Australia is not paying into Green Climate Fund and failing to contribute our fair share of climate finance.

The scene is set. Global momentum to tackle climate change is building. Countries with net zero commitments cover over 80 per cent of world GDP. In Australia’s case, 90 per cent of our exports are to countries with net zero commitments.

Yes, most of Australia's trading partners have set net zero target, as has Australia a week before this conference. But Australia is still expanding coal and gas production rapidly with no plan for a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, and no transition plans to phase out existing fossil fuel production. Watch: Fact-checking & Debunking Morrison's Net Zero 2050 'Plan' | Good COP Bad COP or the Juice Media Honest Government Ad (with references)

Our researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and most importantly our people are ready. The Australian way is to bet on them — and we think that’s a good bet.

The Australia Way is a fraud. If every country followed Australian policies we would end up at a 4C world by 2100 according to Climate Tracker.

Other Reports:

Opening Ceremony - World Leaders Summit

Telling the truth to Glasgow and COP26

As Leaders go to the podium today, on the first full day of the COP26 conference, this ad is in Scotland's longest running newspaper.

Tim Baxter does a gish gallop on Scott Morrison's 3 minute leaders speech

Project TV on the vibe in Glasgow COP26 before the Leaders meeting

Former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres calling Australia out for not coming prepared for COP26 with increased climate targets. Christiania is the architect of the Paris Agreement.

Australia is set to again play a major blocking role during the COP26 talks

Michael Marzengarb in Renew Economy highlights the role Australia is likely to play at COP26 in watering down or blocking progress, especially on coal or gas.

"G20 failed to reach agreement on a crucial deadline for the phase-out of fossil fuels, due to opposition from Australia, China and India, which prevented any language being included in the G20 communique that would suggest countries would commit to ending their use of coal, gas and oil altogether.

It is becoming clear that Australia is set to again play a major blocking role during the COP26 talks, a taste of which we’ve already seen during the G20 meeting. But in Glasgow, Morrison and energy minister Angus Taylor will be doing so with virtually no diplomatic capital to play with." writes Marzengarb in Morrison fumbles in Rome, but his main game is to block progress at Glasgow 

The Australian pavillion: Carbon Capture and Storage...sponsored by Santos

Powerful statement by Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley QC

Watch Mia Mottley's speech:

Meeting Indian PM Narendra Modi

Unlike Australia, India did bring updated commitments. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced “It is India’s expectation that the world’s developed nations make $1 trillion available as climate finance as soon as possible,” he told delegates. “Justice would demand that those nations that have not kept their climate commitments should be pressured.”

He outlined a set of ambitious commitments showing more ambition than India, the world’s third largest emitter, has ever before brought to a climate meeting, and more than any other leader had yet brought to COP. He promised India would:

  • reach net-zero emissions by 2070.
  • strive to produce half of its electricity using renewable energy by 2030
  • Cut carbon-dioxide emissions one billion tons from business as usual by 2030
  • reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45%.
  • increase its non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500GW by 2030

Frank Bainimarama (Fiji PM) with Scott Morrison

We would all like to see the detailed modelling of the plan and how Australia will achieve net zero given no new climate policies,  the extent of magical technology fairy dust in the plan and reliance on domestic and international offsets in the current plan.

"Empty promises of mid-century ambition are not enough," Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said. "All higher emitting countries must halve global emissions by 2030." 

"We have moral authority," he said. "You have a moral obligation."


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