Australia hits rock bottom
London: Just like an addict needs to reach rock bottom before they can turn their life around, Australia’s leaders seem to be, finally, waking-up as Australia drops to last in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). Australia slipped from 58th to 64th of the 64 countries ranked for its GHG (Greenhouse Gas) per capita and was not much better on the other measures.
That intern down in marketing gets a surprise
“Scotty from Marketing” is starting to look like an intern who has left his cosseted private school bubble for the first time and is discovering, the hard way, how the rest of the world works. He strode into COP26 full of big talk about net zero by 2050 but crumbled as soon as everyone else in the room asked him how he’d get there. Imagine the humiliation of being schooled in environmental policy by countries like Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Kazakhstan.
Perhaps COP26 has benefited its participants in different ways. Perhaps our benefit is our government’s noticing what the rest of the world has been doing for decades.
It’s time to scale electric
The Liberal government has certainly changed his tune about one thing. Two years ago, our nation’s leaders were trumpeting nonsense like, “An electric vehicle won’t tow your trailer” and “Shorten is coming for your weekend”, and accusing the opposition of “Coming for your utes”.
Now, in the same week that Rivian, a car maker that sells an electric ute that will out-tow a Hilux, wade through water deeper than a Range Rover can, and drive halfway from Sydney to Brisbane on a single charge, has listed on the NASDAQ (NASDAQ:RIVN), Scott Morrison is suddenly Mr Electric.
Over at the conference, things have slowed down and people are filtering away to pack their bags and find their trains. However, there are still a few resolutions to report.
The Mission Innovation Missions, (who makes up these names?) announced four new missions:
- The Urban Transitions Mission is of particular interest to TFE readers, as it recognises that cities account for nearly three-quarters of global energy consumption and has set the goal to deliver at least 50 large-scale integrated demonstration projects in urban environments around the world, providing a pathway for all cities to adopt net zero carbon solutions as the default option.
- The Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Mission is also quite important to us all. It aims to enable carbon dioxide removal technologies to achieve a net reduction of 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, globally, by 2030. Australia’s CSIRO is a supporting member of this mission so hopefully we will hear more about it as work progresses.
- The Net Zero Industries mission is looking at heavy industries – steel, cement and chemicals which are responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions – where capital investment is high and payback cycles long. Emissions reductions introduced when these plants are refurbished could prevent the release of nearly 60 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide and put heavy industry onto a net zero pathway by 2050. The mission will be co-led by Austria and Australia. (Surely that is some sort of COP 26 practical joke – prepare for the rest of the world to confuse Australia and Austria all the way to net zero. I’m sure, right now, someone is looking at this mission and saying, “What? There are two of them?”)
- The Biorefineries mission, led by India and The Netherlands, is looking at how to make bio-based alternatives to the energy-sucking high-temperature refineries used for steel, cement and chemicals and will provide more information about itself next year
You can’t improve it if you don’t measure it
The Breakthrough Agenda – Launching an Annual Global Checkpoint Process in 2022 plans to measure countries’ states of transition to zero carbon economies, starting in 2022 and repeated annually. The process is led by the UK and will:
- Report on the state of the transition
- Convene leading initiatives in each sector
- Co-convene ministerial discussions on the state of transition
- Encourage new leaders-level commitments
Boris has the last word
It’s been a difficult week for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having to dodge and weave to avoid questions about possible corruption and MPs moonlighting in private industry or even other countries.
He even found himself unable to attend parliament because he was “stuck” in Northumberland. This is a turnaround from last week when he used his private jet to fly from COP26 in Glasgow to a dinner party in London. Maybe this is Boris’s personal contribution to achieving net zero. Nevertheless, in his closing words to the COP26 conference he has told countries to make bold compromises and that “We need to pull out all the stops if we’re going to keep 1.5C within our grasp.”
So, there you go – you heard it here – go find all the stops and pull!
Damian Clarke is a freelance journalist and writer who contributes to The Fifth Estate and The Green List. He has recently relocated to London and has been bringing us updates from COP 26, peppered with a little bit of gossip to keep things spicy.