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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Montreal Moment for Biodiversity: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted

Final COP15 Decision Plenary at Montreal

The  Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, due to the pandemic, has been four years in the making, was finally adopted in Montreal in the early hours of the morning on the 19th December 2022. 

This is the 'Montreal moment' for the Biodiversity crisis and the Convention on Biological Diversity, the equivalent of the 'Paris moment' for the UNFCCC and the climate crisis. 

Like the Paris Agreement, it is far from being perfect. The consensus process means that much compromise is entailed in reaching a global agreement. 

It sets mission goals for 2030 and 2050 to arrest loss of ecosystems and conserve species numbers. It includes an ambitious 30 per cent of land and 30 per cent of ocean for conservation by 2030. This is a step in the right direction, although recent science says that between 44 per cent (1) or 50 percent of land (2) may be necessary to protect to meet the mission statement.

The Package also includes reform of $500bn (£410bn) of environmentally damaging subsidies, and halt pollution that damages ecosystems by the end of the decade. Countries from the global north would contribute $30bn a year for conservation by the end of the decade. 

Strong language for the protection of indigenous rights and territories emphasised throughout the 23 specific targets and four goals that make up the main agreement, known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. 

While a separate Biodiversity Fund was not agreed, there was a compromise plan to create a new financing mechanism for biodiversity housed under the UN’s Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Monday, December 19, 2022

Australia and the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15

Tanya Plibersek in Plenary Photo: Nat Pelle (ACF)

The United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15 / CP-MOP10 / NP-MOP4) is meeting in Montreal, Canada, 7-19 December 2022. This is part of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Biodiversity conference is important as countries will set the 2030 targets. Parties will seek to finalise the 10-year post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF). (read my blog on Global framework on Biodiversity - Australian statement on the Convention on Biodiversity 2030 target)

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has confirmed she will attend COP15 in Montreal.

| COP15 Day Summaries | Australian Pledges | Tracking Minister Plibersek | Resources |

Breaking: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted, although not without some controversy over objection of DRC. See The Montreal Moment for Biodiversity: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Capacity Investment Scheme for Energy Storage agreed by Federal and State Energy ministers

State Energy Ministers met with Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Climate and Energy, and agreed on a new scheme that would boost energy storage, both batteries and long duration storage.

The Labor Government has set a renewables target of 82 per cent by 2030. Along with more solar and wind  energy storage is needed to make dispatchable power for the grid.

“The Capacity Investment Scheme is essentially a ‘keep the lights on’ mechanism,” Bowen said.

“Australian households, industry and the energy market are all moving with their feet towards more affordable renewable energy. The Capacity Investment Scheme will ensure the reliable power we need is delivered as this transition continues.”

Minister outlines major update to Australian environmental laws and the EPBC Act by end of 2023

Photo: Tanya Plibesek speech
Australia: Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announces formal response to the Independent Review of Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
"At the heart of our reform is a conceptual shift. When we reform our environmental laws, we will take them from being nature negative, where we just manage an overall decline in our environment, to nature positive, where we protect our land and leave it in a better state than we found it." said Plibersek at a Queensland Conservation Council event. 

Major Reforms include: 
  • introduction of National Environmental Standards, 
  • new system of regional planning, 
  • overhaul of environmental offsets, and 
  • establishment of an independent Environment Protection Agency. 

New National Environmental Standards will apply to Regional Forestry Agreements, which were previously exempt from EPBC Act regulation. This means threatened species and ecosystems will come back under Federal government regulation.

Climate will be a consideration, but no climate trigger for the amended legislation: 
"proponents of large projects be required to publish their lifetime, domestic carbon dioxide emissions. Proponents will also be required to disclose what they will do to manage or offset their emissions, in line with Australia’s climate targets."

"Time to forge a Peace Pact with Nature" says UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at COP15 Biodiversity conference:

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, again stepped up the rhetoric at the openning plenary of the Biodiversity conference in Montreal, calling for a "Peace Pact with Nature".

He articulated the rapid species and ecosystems decline and the costs to humanity of cost measured in lost jobs, hunger, diseases and deaths, and higher prices for water, food and energy.

He focussed on three concrete actions:

  • Governments should develop bold national action plans across all ministries, from finance and food, to energy and infrastructure. This includes "plans that re-purpose subsidies and tax breaks away from nature-destroying activities towards green solutions like renewable energy, plastic reduction, nature-friendly food production and sustainable resource extraction. Plans that recognize and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, who have always been the most effective guardians of biodiversity. And National Biodiversity Finance Plans to help close the finance gap."
  • The private sector and business must recognize that profit and protection must go hand-in-hand. That means the food and agricultural industry moving towards sustainable production and natural means of pollination, pest control and fertilization. It means the timber, chemicals, building and construction industries taking their impacts on nature into account in their business plans. It means the biotech, pharmaceutical and other industries that use biodiversity sharing the benefits fairly and equitably. It means tough regulatory frameworks and disclosure measures that end greenwashing, and hold the private sector accountable for their actions across every link of their supply chains. And it means challenging the relentless concentration of wealth and power by few that is working against nature and the real interests of the majority.  
  • Dveloped countries must provide bold financial support for the countries of the Global South as custodians of our world’s natural wealth.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Australia and Negotiations for a Global Plastics Treaty and reduce plastic pollution in the marine environment

Photo by IISD/ENB

The final resolution at the United Nations Environment Assembly 21 February – 4 March 2022 was to develop a Global Plastics Treaty and to set up an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.

That Negotiating Committee has now convened 28 November - 2 December 2022 at Punta del Este, Uruguay. Negotiations on the Treaty is expected to take until 2024. Australia is a member of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution and is attending and have made a submission regarding processes and a statement to the Opening Plenary

Friday, December 2, 2022

Barossa gas project: Santos appeal to Full Bench of Federal Court dismissed after challenge by traditional owners

Cheers from traditional owners on the Tiwi Islands after the Federal Court Full Bench dismissed an appeal by Santos regarding its Barossa Gas Project in the Northern Territory.

Tiwi Islanders had appealed the start of drilling that they had not been consulted in the project to start drilling off the coast and the installation of a gas pipeline to Darwin to process the gas in the Proposed Darwin LNG plant. 

They won their initial injunction. Santos then appealed to the Full Bench of the Federal Court, which today was dismissed.

Tiwi Islander Dennis Tipakalippa and other Tiwi residents initially launched legal action in June 2022 to halt drilling, fearing it could damage their sea country.

Australian Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen delivers first annual climate statement in 2022

The Annual climate change statement to Federal Parliament was delivered on the 1st December by Chris Bowen, the Minister for Climate change and Energy. It is the first annual statement as mandated under the Climate Act (2022).

The speech outlines the achievements of the Labor Government in the first 6 months in addressing all the issues that were neglected by the previous Liberal National Party Coalition Government.

The last 6 months has been a whirlwind of starting to implement Labor's climate policies taken to the election. However, these policies overwhelmingly focussed on ramping up renewables and restructuring the National Electricity Market (NEM) east-coast electricity grid, with some strategies for encouraging EV transition and Fuel efficiency standards. Policies on Fossil fuel production phasout and addressing the 114 new coal and gas projects in the approvals pipeline were absent. There was also no commitment to phaseout the  $11 billion in yearly tax subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

Australia did commit to the Global Methanne Pledge just before COP27, and made several minor, but important, pledge commitments at the conference. 

The Annual statement highlights that the ‘baseline’ scenario largely reflects already-implemented policies and shows a 32% reduction in emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.

The ‘additional measures’ scenario is based upon two major elements of the Powering Australia plan, achieving the 82% national renewable electricity target by 2030 and the Safeguard Mechanism reforms. Under this scenario, Australia is on track to reduce emissions by 40% on 2005 levels by 2030.

Other Powering Australia and the National Electric Vehicle Strategymeasures have not been included in the scenario. The Government is confident that implementation of these and other measures will result in achieving the 43% emissions reduction by 2030 target. 

The Government is also reforming the Safeguard Mechanism to provide long-term clarity on emissions reduction of the top 200 major carbon polluters. The integrity of carbon credits will be critical for the Mechanism to work effectively. Up to 80% of Australian carbon credits have had their integrity questioned.