Ignore, defend and pretend: Scott Morrison’s G7 climate strategy is embarrassing

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Ignore, defend and pretend: Scott Morrison’s G7 climate strategy is embarrassing


Scott Morrison has a lot to defend at the G7 in the UK this weekend, and so much to ignore: he has announced -om the relative safety of Perth – that he will not defend countries demanding higher climate ambition from him from Australia.

At the same time, he took the lead and again asserted that Australia was the world leader in climate action, claiming it had done more than the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and others since 2005.

The data tells a different story.

Australia relied heavily on its choice of base year in 2005, when emissions from land use were very high, to “achieve” emissions reductions from that year. In round terms, due to the decline in emissions from land-use change since 2005, the country’s emissions have declined by about 17% by 2020. Unpacking that to reveal the true source of the underlying growth in emissions, the picture is very different.

Excluding land-use change and forestry, emissions increased between 2005 and 2019 (before COVID-19 emissions declined) to around 5% above 2005 levels. During this period, Canada had virtually no change in these emissions, the United States and Japan had a 10% reduction, the EU27 a 17% reduction and the United Kingdom a 33% reduction.

An even clearer picture emerges when we remove emissions from the electricity sector. The renewable energy sector, which now accounts for 24% of electricity production, has only grown because of the renewable energy target, which the Coalition has tried and failed to suppress. state government policies and the rapidly declining cost of renewables and the storage of batteries replacing fossil fuels. fuel generation. It happened despite the policies of the Coalition.

Thus, if one excludes emissions from the electricity sector and land use, emissions from all other sectors are expected to increase by almost 14% by 2030 from 2005 levels. Why? Because there is simply no policy in Australia to tackle emissions outside of the power sector. Nothing. Zipper.

The British host and the United States and others are waiting very strongly for Australia to step up its global ambition for 2030.

While Morrison may try to pretend we’re ahead with our goals, again, the real data tells us otherwise. If we compare countries’ 2030 goals, again, the picture is really quite remarkable.

Australia’s ambition for 2030 is less than half the average reduction of other developed countries participating in the G7. Including emissions from land use, Australia’s proposed reduction by 2030 below 2018 levels is around 17%. The reductions by 2030 for the other developed countries participating in the G7 are in the order of 39 to 50%.

The Australian government likes to talk about trends in per capita emissions, sorting through the data that would bring it to light. But the atmosphere doesn’t really care about per capita emissions, it only cares about absolute emission reductions.

But let’s look again at the data that really matters: How does Australia’s per capita emissions reduction compare to its counterparts between 2018 and 2030? It is only about 50% of the average of other developed countries participating in the G7: only a drop of about 24% against an average of 47%.

Arriving in Cornwall, Scott Morrison will attend a meeting of the major economies which are all taking important steps to tackle climate change, while all of his major energy actions have been to support the fossil fuel industry, with only a vague nod to the net. zero in the future, “preferably by 2050”.

He refused to increase the 2030 target and refused to commit to net zero. His peers at this reunion will know it, despite the bluster he wears. All are committed to reaching deeper goals for 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. In that context, Morrison will be the unknown, and perhaps the best thing the rest of us in Australia can. to hope is that he leaves his parliamentary coal face at home for the occasion.

He walks into a meeting where his host, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has made climate change the top priority and pretty much everyone in the room will ask Morrison what he’s doing.

What will G7 leaders say about its claims that Australia is a world leader in deploying renewable electricity per capita, underscoring the massive rate of rooftop solar installations? Again, what matters are the big numbers for the economy as a whole, not the trivia: Australia’s five-year renewable energy deployment rate in the electricity sector is at roughly in the middle of the range for developed countries in the G7.

The biggest problem is what’s happening to decarbonizing our entire energy sector, and the data points to a very slow level of major change. For 20 years or more, renewables have accounted for around 6-7% of our total primary energy supply, and that figure has now climbed to around 8.5% thanks to the increase in renewables in our power sector. .

Morrison says he will argue that no one has the right to tell Australia to set targets and timetables to reduce emissions, despite Australia agreeing to do so when it signed the Paris agreement. And in Paris, Australia agreed with everyone to improve its 2030 target with great ambition in 2020, a process now postponed to Glasgow later this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be seen for what it is – in polite terms of “parasitism”; back home in australia, we call it “bludging”.

He will have to continue to ignore the 1.5 ° C energy scenarios compatible with the Paris agreement, the latest from the International Energy Agency, which says the world must phase out the use of coal. ‘by 2040 and phase out gas by around 2050. The IEA also does not have any new investments in fossil fuels from this year if we are to meet the 1.5 ° C limit. Yet Morrison’s government is pushing for a gas-led recovery, both nationally and internationally. The IEA net zero report shows that Australian LNG exports peak in the mid-2020s and decline by 2030 to low levels in the following decade. If Paris is properly implemented, the gas and coal export industry will simply dry up.

Morrison will oppose any carbon border adjustment mechanism such as that proposed by the European Parliament, knowing that without a national carbon price, all Australian exports will be vulnerable to such a tax.

He will also have to claim he has not seen the Dutch court rule that global oil giant Shell must cut emissions by 45% by 2030, the same company that is Australia’s second-largest gas exporter. This is likely to have significant and negative impacts on investor appetite in fossil fuel intensive companies and projects.

By going to the G7 and denouncing increased ambition on climate change, Morrison is going against the grain of history and science and will – knowingly or not – be seen as undermining a vital global movement towards real action, sustainable and ambitious campaign on climate change. US Climate Envoy John Kerry said, and I totally agree with him, that this is our last best time to take sufficient action to limit warming to 1.5C and the goals we adopt by 2030 will be decisive.

Bringing Australia out at this point in history as a nation so obsessed with its internal climate wars that its leader will step into action at the G7 on behalf of the coal and gas industries whose timing is more than embarrassing . He needs to read the play.

Bill Hare, physicist and climatologist, is the Managing Director of Climate Analytics

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