Paris is cactus? COP22 Update

Nov 14, 2016 - 9:18am

Some Australian politicians have said the Paris agreement is cactus, it’s proving to be true – a hardy plant resilient to adversity. While there is no doubt global climate action will take an as yet uncertain hit from the election of President Trump, the Paris Agreement is demonstrating its capacity to act as a shock absorber. Recent advances in global financial architecture, which is becoming more climate risk sensitive with greater tools to support clean technology solutions, are also likely to assist.

  • Australia received more questions than other countries in an open “multi-lateral assessment” forum. This is part of the Kyoto 2020 target architecture for developed nations, likely to be transplanted in a similar form to the Paris Agreement for all 190 nations. Some key points:
    • Australia continued with its confidence that it will meet and beat its 2020 target by at least 78 million tonnes (but didn’t mention national emissions had risen since 2014 and that this achievement would be assisted with some accounting benefits). This prompted a question from China about any chance Australia might “enhance” its 2020 target. Australia responded that the 2020 target is “not a ceiling on our ambition”.*
    • The $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund was highlighted as the “centrepiece” of the government’s 2020 policy package. There was no reference to the $2.55 billion's likely expiry early next year. Australia’s delegates, without future budget decisions, could not answer questions from the US regarding future scale – no specified amount was promised during the 2016 election campaign.
  • Other questions included the impacts of expansion of LNG and coal mining activity, details on the National Energy productivity Plan, forest management and accounting and investment in capacity building through the aid program’s “climate finance”.
  • Other countries have been fast to reiterate their sustained commitment to the Paris Agreement and the real economy benefits of climate action. Yesterday, bold public statements, widely covered in the press, were made by China, Brazil, the EU and the High Ambition Coalition.
  • Germany has agreed to a draft 2050 plan set to be formally adopted on Monday. The plan demands a higher EU 2050 target, has sector targets out to 2030 including a halving of emissions from the energy sector by 2030, and brings greater clarity to a just transition process for coal phase-out. Germany’s 2030 emissions reduction target equates to 45% below 2005 levels compared with Australia’s 2030 target of 26-28 per cent.
  • Work continued in developing more details on the rulebook for the Paris agreement.
  • At a side event with representatives of Citi Bank, Aviva, Deutsche Bank and more, experts from the financial sector described the emergence of disclosure indexes and rules, investment screening, low carbon investment registers, green and climate bonds as a new “shock absorber”.  

It’s not all smooth sailing and no doubt there’ll be bumps in the week ahead, but the framework and participants in the Paris Agreement have shown some hardy resilience this week.

Ministers Bishop and Frydenberg are expected from Monday for series of meetings and “high level events”.

*During the 2013 election campaign both the ALP and the Abbott Coalition supported the Rudd Government’s formal commitment to a 2020 range emissions reductions of 5 to 25 per cent below 2000 levels – the 5 per cent being “unconditional” assuming no international action. Despite extensive evidence of international action that independent observers noted warranted at least a 15 per cent reduction target, in 2015 the minimal 5 per cent target became the only target referenced, and ultimately was also supported by the ALP in the 2016 campaign.

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