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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Tracking Australian Ministers and Australian pledges at COP27

Well I tracked Australian Ministers at Previous COPs, so only fair I also do so for COP27. 

See Melissa Price at COP24Angus Taylor at COP25. For Glasgow I started keeping an Australia at COP26 diary which featured a paragraph by paragraph deconstruction and rebuttal to Prime Minister Morrison's speech. For COP21 and COP22 I was following social media and statements by  Julie Bishop regarding the COP.

Australia's Ministerial representation at COP27 included Pat Conroy as Minister for International Development and the Pacific, present for the first week; Chris Bowen as Minister for Climate Change and Energy present for the second week; and Senator Jenny McAllister as Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy (Present for the second week).

Why didn't Prime Minister Albanese attend? Well COP27 is more of a technical conference focussed  on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. While there was a 2 day high level segment in which about 100 leaders, Presidents and Prime Ministers flew in to attend, the political decisions to break deadlocks just weren't there. The high level segment was primarily leader grandstanding. Adam Morton in The Guardian thinks It was an avoidable mistake for Anthony Albanese not to attend Cop27, in terms of maintaining climate momentum. I don't think it was necessary for this COP.

Chris Bowen | Jenny McAllister | Pat Conroy | Pledges

Labor has not committed to the pledge on 15 November on ending Export credit finance to Fossil Fuels

Commitments and pledges associated with COP27

18 November 2022 - Australia joins international Net Zero Government Initiative

This is a commitment to decarbonise Australian Government operations and the operations of the Federal Public Service. Australian Government has joined with more than 10 global partners, including the United States. But note that Defence and Security operations are excluded from this commitment. (DCCEEW)

18 November 2022 - Australia endorses the international Ocean Conservation Pledge

The Australian Government has endorsed the Ocean Conservation Pledge – a global movement calling on countries to conserve or protect at least 30% of the ocean within their jurisdiction by 2030. (DCCEEW)

16 November 2022 - Australia joins global drive to boost offshore wind.

Australia will join an alliance of government and private organisations to boost the offshore wind industry. Announced at COP27, this venture will leverage the expertise and support of other nations to help establish an offshore wind industry in Australia.

16 November 2022 - Australia joins global efforts to end plastic pollution. Media Release from Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek. 

Australia has joined the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution signalling the Government’s strong ambition to end plastic pollution around the world by 2040 under a new plastic pollution treaty. 

Note: plastics are 99% fossil fuel based, seen as a growth sector for oil and gas sector via petrochemical/plastics plants, are a carbon transport mechanism, contribute to microplastics pollution and impact on aquatic systems, wildlife and even human health. See also WWF response

11 November 2022 - Australia endorses Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda on Agriculture

Australia has endorsed the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda on Agriculture (GBAA) at COP27.

11 November 2022  Australia joins International Mangrove Alliance for Climate

Australia will join the Mangrove Alliance for Climate further strengthening the country’s global leadership on climate action and blue carbon.

10 November - Seagrass mapping. CSIRO, DFAT and Google Australia announce 'blue carbon' project at COP27

CSIRO is partnering with DFAT and Google to deliver a new Indo-Pacific coastal ecosystem mapping initiative.

9 November 2022, Australia rises to Green Shipping Challenge at COP27

Australia signed up to the Green Shipping Challenge at COP27 after being invited to join by US President Joe Biden at the Major Economies Forum in June.  Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy attended today’s launch hosted by Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry.

8 November 2022 - Australia joins forests partnership to drive climate action

Australia has become a founding member of the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership, a new international group to accelerate the contribution of forests to global climate action.

Pledges not joined

15 November - Export/Import Finance subsidies for Fossil Fuels Pledge: 

Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN) were critical that Australia chose not to sign an agreement known as the statement on international public support for the clean energy transition partnership at a public event held at Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday 15 Nov. 

The partnership, created in Glasgow last year, is backed by 39 countries or public finance institutions (to date) that have committed to direct export credit support towards clean energy and away from “unabated fossil fuels”. 

Some 39 countries have signed including the USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

Export Finance Australia is Australia's export credit agency.

Felicity Wade, LEAN's national co-convenor, was reported in the Guardian as saying 

“It’s disappointing that the Australian government has decided against joining the clean energy transition partnership,” she said. “While it is great that Chris Bowen has called for reform of multilateral financial institutions to better deliver decarbonisation, it begs the question why Australia hasn’t signed up to ensuring our own international public investments are aligned with shifting from fossil fuels.”

LEAN said in a tweet "LEAN disappointed and puzzled by missed opportunity to sign up to partnership to end fossil fuel subsidies in export finance; praises call for ramping up clean energy transition support by international finance agencies"

Market Forces identified that 

"Export Finance Australia is not constrained by the Paris Agreement and refuses to disclose how it considers climate risk. It is also exempt from FOI laws, so the details of its dirty deals often remain secret until it’s too late.

In total, Export Finance Australia provided more than $1.5 billion in finance to fossil fuel projects between 2009 and 2020, about 80 times the amount it spent on renewables, according to Jubilee Australia."

Reference: The Guardian, 16 Nov 2022, Australia criticised for resisting Cop27 push to end international fossil fuel subsidies

Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change and Energy

19 November: As COP27 goes into overtime, Australian position on Loss and Damage Finance: Australia said it welcomed the EU’s contribution and would “engage constructively with it”. 

On loss and damage, it was “very attracted to a new fund that benefits from a broad contributor base and focuses on the most vulnerable”. 

“We want to fully examine how other institutions such as multinational development banks can interact and further develop their interaction with this fund,” said Chris Bowen, the Australian climate change minister. reports the Guardian.

18 November - Chris Bowen on Cop27’s urgent fight: ‘If we’re not trying to keep to 1.5C then what are we here for?’ 

The Guardian reports on Loss and Damage Fund "In a significant step late on Friday, Australia was party to an informal proposal led by the EU, and also backed by the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada, for a fund to be made operational within two years, with the possibility of a commission to consider how it would work with existing financial institutions. 

They called for money to come from “a wide variety of parties and sources”, but did not specify if that included large emerging economies such as China. Developing countries were examining the proposal." 

The draft text for a Cop27 agreement was still weaker than the Glasgow pact. “But it is much closer and we might be able to get somewhere better,” says Bowen.

17 November: Chris Bowen has his work cut out, as do all the co-facilitators. COP27 Presidency appointed Minister Bowen to co-facilitate on Climate finance with Bhupender Yadav (India). While Australia may have less input to the content of discussions on this topic, facilitators are important for guiding and facilitating the process. It is a huge job and responsibility. 

"On finance, particularly the new collective quantified goal (NCQG), Co-Facilitators Bhupender Yadav (India) and Chris Bowen (Australia) noted they had prepared text that could provide a structured approach to further the work of the ad hoc work programme for 2023 and enable a decision on the NCQG in 2024. They will meet with Heads of Delegation to hear parties’ views." Extract from ENB/IISD daily summary

Read transcript of Chris Bowen's full speech to the High level Segment of COP27: Chris Bowen speech to COP27 on Australia's new climate ambition, COP31 bid and global financial institution reform.

November 15 - Chris Bowen spoke briefly at a UK COP26 Presidency event at COP27 Sharm El-Sheikh on Putting Promises into Practice: Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition. His comments were about addressing upgrading Australia’s grid transmission network to enable greater integration of solar and wind to achieve the 82% renewables target by 2030. He also talked about the Sun-cable project to build solar farms in Australia’s north to export the power by submarine cable to supply up to 20% of Singapore’s electricity needs.

November 15 - Australian climate minister to target World Bank’s response to crisis in Cop27 speech (Guardian) Chris Bowen's major address at the Cop27 will call out the World Bank for failing to address the climate crisis, and join calls for the international financial system to be reshaped. Bowen will also declare that Australia is back as a “constructive, positive, and willing climate collaborator” since the Anthony Albanese-led Labor party ousted Scott Morrison’s rightwing coalition, which was widely criticised as a roadblock at climate negotiations. According to an advance copy of the speech released by his office, Bowen would not outline new climate funding or policies.

November 13 - Deal on ‘loss and damage’ unlikely at COP, says Chris Bowen (SMH) 
The world is unlikely to come to an agreement at COP27 talks in Egypt over contentious calls for wealthy nations to pay loss and damage compensation to developing countries, says Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen reports Nick O'Malley for the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Minister would not detail what Australia’s stance would be as ministerial negotiations commenced on Monday. “Let’s just see how the internal discussions go. But I mean, I doubt very much it’ll be a full agreement on that at this COP,” he said.

The SMH reports says:
Bowen rejected criticism made by Greenpeace over the weekend that Australia was one of a small handful of nations using “blocking language” in negotiations so far to delay an outcome. “Loss and damage” payments have been opposed by some wealthy nations, including the US, for fear of conceding culpability for climate change.

“That is just not correct. And with due respect, [Greenpeace is] not in the discussions, they are just not in the room,” he said.

November 8: Greenpeace had two questions for Chris Bowen before he departed for COP27 in Egypt:

SYDNEY, Tuesday 8th November 2022 - Over the weekend, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen announced Australia’s bid to co-host COP31 in 2026 with Pacific nations, and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy has supported the inclusion of Loss and Damage on the COP27 agenda. 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific has two questions we believe Chris Bowen should answer before he jets off for COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Question 1: One of the most prevailing demands of the Pacific nations Australia is looking to co-host COP26 with is for major emitting countries like Australia and the US to financially compensate for the damage caused by climate change. What are the Albanese Government’s plans for addressing loss and damage finance?

Currently, there is no dedicated fund or funding facility for countries experiencing loss and damage. A Loss and Damage Finance Facility has been championed by countries in the developing world including the Pacific since the 1990s, to ensure the mobilisation and coordination of funds for climate-impacted countries. Australia, along with the US and EU has been a historic blocker of such a facility. At COP26 Australia joined the US and EU in doing so again, instead offering The Glasgow Dialogue, a three-year discussion process without clearly defined milestones or outcomes. 

Question 2: The Vanuatu Government is pursuing an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on the human rights impacts of climate change, which has been offered in-principle support from all members of the Pacific Island Forum, including Australia. Considering that co-hosting a COP requires unprecedented levels of alignment, will Australia vote yes on the advisory opinion?

The International Court of Justice can issue advisory opinions which inform the development of international law. In this case, force governments to consider the human rights impacts of climate policy, which would help compel more ambitious action under the Paris Agreement.

The campaign for an ICJAO has generated global support. It stands on the precipice of a historic vote at the UN General Assembly, where it must secure a majority of votes to be referred to the ICJ.

Ahead of COP27, Germany, New Zealand, Vietnam and several other nations have stepped up as high-level country champions, and advocating for a yes vote at the UNGA. Australia has offered in-principle support as part of the Pacific Islands Forum, but has yet to commit to voting yes.

Senator Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy

November 15 - Senator Jenny McAllister was a speaker at a side event: Partnerships accelerate action to protect blue carbon ecosystems for mitigation and adaptation.(Note: the sound is pretty atrocious)

Video description: "Partnerships across different sectors, are key to driving credible action for the protection of blue carbon ecosystems (mangroves, seagrasses, tidal marshes), contributing to climate change mitigation, adaptation, biodiversity, ocean economies and coastal communities

Speakers: Hon. Jenny McAllister (Australia), Neil Hornby (UK), Richard Spinrad (US NOAA), Cassilde Brenière (AFD), Joanna Post (Secretariat of the UNFCCC), Minna Epps (IUCN), Jerker Tamelander (Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands), Daniel Murdiyarso (CIFOR), Emily Pidgeon (Conservation International)"

November 14: Senator Jenny McAllister was on a panel for Water, Energy and Climate Nexus in the Water Pavillion. She discusses the role of the Millennial drought in raising the impacts of climate change on water in Australia. Water, energy and climate needs to be considered together and not in silos.

Pat Conroy, Minister for International Development and the Pacific

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