How Australia is tracking vs the rest of the world so far at the pivotal UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow:
Forests: More than 100 countries have signed a pledge to halt deforestation by 2030.
Methane: More than 100 countries — including the US and EU — are working towards an agreement to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Signatories to the pledge represent nearly half (46%) of global methane emissions.
This is important given the IPCC’s recent report that set out both the threat and opportunity of reigning in methane: a potent greenhouse gas.
Australia has signed the pledge to halt and reverse deforestation.
But Australia — along with Russia, China, India — refused to join the pledge to reduce methane emissions.
Australia stands out from our trading partners like the US, UK, NZ, EU and Japan for failing to increase 2030 targets to cut pollution by at least half in the lead-up to COP.
More than 100 countries representing 85% of global forests have signed a pledge to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
A global deal to stem deforestation was reached with the backing of major forest countries including Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Keeping below 1.5C is not possible without radical action to halt deforestation.
And according to the IPCC, all scenarios for limiting warming to 2°C this century rely on reductions in deforestation and forest degradation. The IPCC also shows protecting existing forests is a faster, better and cheaper way to stabilise the global climate than planting new trees.
Australia has signed the pledge to halt deforestation.
But Australia is a deforestation hotspot, so how we action this pledge is a question looming large. Additional funding and transparency around tracking progress will be needed.
UN agreed to track countries' net zero progress, including establishing a Group of Experts to propose clear standards to measure and analyse net-zero commitments from business.
More than 135 countries now have net zero targets.
India's net zero pledge means the world's top 10 coal power nations have committed to net zero. Although China and India’s targets are beyond 2050, they represent a significant step-up in ambition.
We now have a net zero target, but the plan is to let tech do the work and lift emissions reductions well into the future, not this decade.
Australia is way behind the international community without an updated 2030 target. The current target is aligned with well over 3 degrees of global warming and is not consistent with reaching net zero by 2050.
A coalition of 190 countries and organisations plus dozens of banks and other institutions pledged to phase out coal-fired power plants domestically and to end funding for international coal projects.
The Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement commits signatories to both phase out coal power and end support for new coal power stations. Countries such as Vietnam, Poland, Egypt, Chile and Morocco have announced clear commitments to phase out coal power. Vietnam is considered a major destination for Australia’s coal and Poland is one of the world’s biggest coal consumers.
This statement, launched today, commits nations across the world to:
Australia has refused to phase out coal for domestic use or export. Assessment of current coal projects in the pipeline show Australia has 72 new coal projects in the pipeline.
Scott Morrison introduced Australia’s net zero plan at COP26 saying: “Australia won’t shut down coal or gas production or exports and there will be no job losses in farming, mining or gas as a result of the international push to address climate change.”
Wealthy countries are stepping up to help low income countries act and adapt to climate change but more needs to be done.
New announcements at COP26 are bringing the total closer to the $100 billion annual goal for developed countries.
Barbados PM Mia Mottley gave a plea for action: "Are we so blinded we can no longer appreciate the cries of humanity?"
She underlines that many poorer nations, like Gabon, Kenya, Egypt, Maldives, Panama, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Fiji, Mauritius and Belize all discussed the delayed delivery of the promised $100 billion to help build climate change resilience.
"Are we so blinded we can no longer appreciate the cries of humanity" – Barbados PM Mia Mottley
Expect more from developing countries including Ghana, Nigeria, St Lucia, Dominica, Bahamas and Rwanda.
In recognition of the important role played by the Congo Basin in achieving global biodiversity and climate objectives, a range of countries pledged an initial $1.5 billion between 2021–2025 to support ambitious efforts in the region to protect and maintain the Congo Basin forests, peatlands and other critical global carbon stores.
Australia’s commitment to increase climate finance to low-income countries by $500 million is a good first step but not enough. See this great tweet from Fiji PM on why.
Environment NGOs have called for the Australian Government to show its commitment to our Pacific neighbours by increasing our investment to $3 billion over five years.
Australia has not agreed to contribute to initiatives such as funding to protect the Congo Basin.
Image credits: Kerry Trapnell, Freya Cole, Kerry Trapnell, Ali Sanderson, Thomas Reaubourg, Sam Jotham Sutharson, Chris LeBoutillier, Shutterstock, Ashraful Haque Akash and Adli Wahid