Aaaaand, we’re back
If a week is a long time in politics, a long weekend is a long time in the world of COP26. For Greta Thunberg has moved her protests north, to doorstep COP26 with the accusation that it’s all talk no action, and the Vietnamese delegation has been sprung eating gold-plated steak at Salt Bae’s London restaurant, Nusr-Et, but not before bolstering its communist cred with a visit to Karl Marx’s grave.
Greta Thunberg may have a point. The BBC reports that 503 delegates at the COP26 conference were there to represent oil and gas interests and draws the parallel that the “World Health Organization didn’t get serious about banning tobacco until all the lobbyists for the industry were banned from WHO meetings”.
Life imitates art in Tuvalu*
Tuvalu’s minister for justice, communication and foreign affairs, The Hon Simon Kofe, went viral, not for his words at COP26 – which are worth listening to – but his deadpan delivery while standing knee-deep in one of Tuvalu’s ever-expanding lagoons. I suggest you watch the full four minutes of his speech, because, while the visuals will suck you in, his calm description of how a nation remains a nation as it slips between the waves will stay with you forever.
Australia still not reading the room on power generation
Meanwhile, Lord Deben, chair of the UK Climate Change Committee, who has been lukewarm on Australia’s 2050 commitments in the past, has further rained on Scott Morrison’s parade, calling Australia’s lack of emissions ambitions, “a great disappointment” and Scott Morrison’s explanation of what we will do between now and 2030 as “just a whole series of words”. Not that any of this is news to anyone working in sustainability in Australia, where industry has stepped-in to fill the vacuum of public policy.
Lord Deben’s comments followed Australia’s refusal to sign the Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition, in which the signatories pledge to undertake specific actions to align their international public support towards clean energy transition. Obviously, Australia was equally unwilling to sign the Global Coal to clean Power Transition Statement, despite Queensland wanting to be a renewal energy superpower, and the CEFC pumping money into Australian clean energy projects.
Imagine what a good-news story this could have been if Scott Morrison had chosen to champion Australian ingenuity.
Don’t forget the consumption end of the chain
Fortunately, it is not all bad news. Moving away from generation to focus on consumption, Australia did sign the Joint Statement in Support of the UK-IEA Product Efficiency Call to Action to Raise Global Ambition Through the SEAD Initiative.
Long title, simple concept – The Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) Initiative encourages a transition away from products that use a lot of energy towards products that use very little. Expect to see more energy ratings on the things you buy – something consumers have already embraced in Australia, particularly around water consumption. Developers, take note as you build your super-sustainable properties to meet the needs of the growing Gen-Z homebuying population. (What – you didn’t read my article about that in The Green List? You should. Here it is.)
More hints about the end of coal
Back to power generation with the Focus of Energy Transition Council (ETC) statement released on Thursday. The ETC’s mission is to make clean and sustainable power the most affordable and reliable option. I really do feel that there is a message here that certain Australians simply are not hearing.
Still no Australian support for a just transition
Despite the hints, Australia also refused to sign the statement Supporting the Conditions for a Just Transition Internationally. The point of the statement is that a lot needs to change if we are to decarbonise our economies and we need to support people through transitioning to new jobs, social change, economic strategies and supply chain impacts – something like the multi-decade program to transition BHP Steel out of Newcastle, NSW.
Signatories intend to include Just Transition efforts in their national Biennial Transparency Reports. Australia, on the other hand, seems sentenced to a sudden and destabilising crash transition – like when timber mill Gunns folded and took most of Tasmania’s logging industry with it.
More financial innovation
Following last week’s reports of financial innovations timed to coincide with COP 26, my old colleagues at Creditflux tipped me off about a new ESG (Environmental social and corporate Governance) collateralised synthetic obligation (CSO) deal by alternative credit manager Zais.
A CSO is a bundled collection of credit derivatives structured into a new investment then sold to investors. The significance of this deal is that it has two layers of ESG screening – screening out credit issued by companies with high risk ESG activities, and screening in companies best positioned within their class to transition to a low carbon economy. Zais worked closely with ratings agencies on the creditworthiness treatment of the structure, in the hope that it can become a template for future ESG CSOs.
*Take a look at Isaac Cordal’s “Follow The Leaders”, Berlin, Germany, 2011, colloquially known as “Politicians Talking About Climate Change”.
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 will be bringing us updates from COP 26, hopefully peppered with a little bit of gossip to keep things spicy.