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Australia’s Technology not taxes Meet and Cheat Strategy for #COP26 while increasing fossil fuel production

Looks like Australia’s technology not taxes Government slogan policy is part of its Meet and Cheat strategy.

Meet Australia’s absurdly low 26-28% by 2030 climate targets for the UN climate talks in Glasgow – COP26 – ignoring that the Paris Agreement specifically requests that new NDCs with greater ambition be submitted, the ratchett mechanism.

While lobbying the IPCC to water down and delete need for phaseout of fossil fuel power, claiming carbon capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) (none of which is built) will keep these coal and gas stations running. Delete references to the power of the Fossil Fuel Lobby in influencing government decisions, despite this being fully referenced from multiple sources.

These comments were made on the 6th Assessment Working Group III report on mitigation (climate solutions) currently in preparation due for release in 2022.

Meanwhile Australia received a scathing profile in the 2021 Production Gap report highlighting Australia has no effective phaseout or transition plans for fossil fuel production, and in fact is planning to increase production.

There goes any semblance of credibility (if any was left) for the UN climate talks.

Lobbying for Watering down IPCC report

Greenpeace have gone through thousands of comments on the IPCC working group III draft report on climate solutions which show Australia is heavily lobbying for deleting or watering down sections of the report.

“In one comment seen by Unearthed, a senior Australian government official rejected the largely uncontroversial conclusion that one of the most important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was to phase out coal-fired power stations.”

“Australia; Saudi Arabia; Iran, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); and Japan all make variations of this argument, despite the fact that, according to the Global CCS Institute, there is currently only one power station in operation in the world that successfully captures some of its carbon emissions.

“Analysis of public data shows that this power station, Boundary Dam in Canada, has missed its original target of capturing 90% of the carbon emissions from one of its generators and is now aiming to capture just 65%. The vast majority of global CCS capacity is, in fact, applied to natural gas processing rather than energy generation.”

Australia … suggests that carbon capture can be deployed in the near-term to avoid phasing out coal and gas power. 

“A senior official at Australia’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources says: “These remarks confuse the objective (eliminating emissions) with the means ‘retiring existing coal-fired power’. CCUS remains relevant to zero emissions”. “

“In another comment, the government official suggests Australia be deleted from a list of the world’s major producers and consumers of coal – despite Australia being the fifth largest coal producer in the world between 2018-21 – on the grounds that it does not consume as much coal as other countries.  “

“Elsewhere, Australia asks the IPCC to delete analysis explaining how lobbying by fossil fuel companies has weakened action on climate change in Australia and the US: “One factor limiting the ambition of climate policy has been the ability of incumbent industries to shape government action on climate change (Newell and Paterson 1998; Breetz et al. 2018; Jones and Levy 2009; Geels 2014). Campaigns by oil and coal companies against climate action in the US and Australia are perhaps the most well-known and largely successful of these (Brulle et al. 2020; Stokes 2020; Mildenberger 2020)”.

“Despite the large number of academic references the IPCC draws upon in making the statement, the Australian government official requests “deleting this political viewpoint made to seem factual”. “

Australia really is a huge ogre trying to cheat its way to continue to burn the planet through expanding fossil fuel production.

Other troll countries include Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Saudi Arabia and OPEC seeking to water down the IPCC Working Group III report on climate solutions. 

Brazil and Argentina sought to weaken or to remove  messages in the report about the need to curb meat and dairy consumption to tackle global warming. Both countries call on the authors to delete passages in the text which suggest a shift to plant-based diets would cut greenhouse gas emissions, or which describe beef as a “high carbon” food.

On fossil fuel phaseout Saudi Arabia and Japan joined Australia in arguing for Carbon Capture and Storage to allow coal and gas fired power stations to continue.

Climate scientist Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London, told Unearthed:  “These comments show the tactics some countries are willing to adopt to obstruct and delay action to cut emissions. 

“On the eve of the crucial COP26 talks there is, to me, a clear public interest in knowing what these governments are saying behind the scenes.” 

He added: “Like most scientists I’m uncomfortable with leaks of draft reports, as in an ideal world the scientists writing these reports should be able to do their job in peace. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and with emissions still increasing, the stakes couldn’t be higher.” (1)

Reported in Renew Economy, Greenpeace Australia CEO David Ritter said the documents showed the extent of the Morrison government’s attempts to undermine global climate action.

“These leaked documents reveal the shameful lengths the Morrison Government will go to to protect fossil fuel interests and damage global efforts to reduce emissions and safeguard the climate,” Ritter said.

“What we see in these leaked documents is Morrison Government officials in sabotage mode, rather than acting in good faith with the best interests of the Australian people to collaborate to secure ambitious global climate cooperation.”

“Scott Morrison has rejected setting a stronger 2030 emissions reduction target for Australia, and now we know his government is pushing back against key recommendations by the world’s leading climate science body on the need to phase out coal over the next decade,” Ritter added.(5)

Production Gap Report

The revelation comes as the UNEP Production Gap report was released highlighting that Governments plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. The report highlights in a profile that Australia is increasing fossil fuel production. 

Key messages:

  • Governments plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. 
  • Global fossil fuel production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C.
  • Most major oil and gas producers are planning on increasing production out to 2030 or beyond, and several major coal producers are planning on continuing or increasing production.
  • G20 countries have directed more new funding to fossil fuels than clean energy since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • International public finance for the production of fossil fuels from G20 countries and multi-lateral development banks (MDBs) has significantly decreased in recent years.
  • Governments have a primary role to play in closing the production gap and in ensuring that the transition away from fossil fuels is just and equitable.

Even during the last 18 months of the pandemic G20 countries directed around USD 300 billion in new funds towards fossil fuel activities, far more than they have toward clean energy.

UK COP President Alok Sharma  has said he aims to make the UN climate talks in Glasgow – COP26 – the moment the world “consigns coal to history” and is pushing countries to make commitments to end coal generation.(3) Such an aim fails to account for the 57% more oil and 71% more gas that governments’ production plans and projects would generate by 2030 than is consistent with 1.5°C, according to Fossil Fuel Treaty press statement..
Tzeporah Berman, Chair for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative and Stand.earth International Program Director, said: “For decades countries have been negotiating targets and constraining emissions but behind our backs the fossil fuel industry has been growing production. This report makes clear no new oil, gas and coal projects fit with climate action and governments must act now to wind down fossil fuel production. A Fossil Fuel Treaty would help governments do that in a way that is just and equitable.”(4)
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat said “Energy is at the heart of the deep and lasting transformation we must make to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Today 75% of global emissions are caused by our need for energy. The extraction and transformation of fossil fuels into electricity, transportation and heating fuel products needs to be rapidly eliminated. Ambitious national climate action plans (NDCs) are the best way to chart the course for this transition away from fossil fuels. While the focus needs to be on reducing emissions, we have to ensure that this transition is just and helps economies and workers to adjust to a low-carbon future.”
To a question asked on how the investment profile has changed for new coal and gas projects I was told “in terms of international public finance, the trend you highlight is particularly clear: coal finance has decreased substantially since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, due to the growing number of exclusion policies. Gas finance, however, is increasing. This finance is mostly directed to LNG infrastructure and gas-fired plants.”
The report profile on Australia is pretty scathing. This is an excerpt:

Government views on fossil fuel production

The federal government promotes its fossil fuel industry, emphasizing the economic importance of its coal and gas sectors (Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, 2020; Prime Minister of Australia, 2021). As shown in Fig 4.7, coal and gas production have grown rapidly since 2010, driven by the major expansion of coal exports and a newly established liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry. Australia is now the world’s largest coal exporter and the second largest LNG exporter (Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, 2021a; IEA, 2021).

The federal government has promoted a “gas-fired recovery” from the COVID-19-related economic slowdown, including by providing substantial new public funding to unlock new gas basins, supporting the expansion of the gas transport network, and using various measures to boost gas supply and domestic gas use (Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, 2020b, 2021b; Prime Minister of Australia, 2020).

Plans and projections for domestic fossil fuel production

“Australian government projects increases in coal, oil, and gas production of 4%, 32%, and 12%, respectively, from fiscal year 2019 to 2030 (Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, 2020a).”

Policies and discourses towards a managed wind-down of fossil fuel production

No such government policies or discourses were identified.

Policies and discourses supporting a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuel production

Policies and discourses have been limited to transition assistance at the local level, related to coal plant closure in the Latrobe Valley, as well as some early considerations for how to handle future coal plant closures in the Hunter Valley (Green, 2019; Wiseman et al., 2020).  (2)

Watch the Production Gap launch event explain the report methodology:

References:

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