What is COP26 and Why Does the Fate of Earth, and Australia’s Prosperity, Depend on it?

What is COP26 and Why Does the Fate of Earth, and Australia’s Prosperity, Depend on it?

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In simply over two weeks, greater than 100 world leaders will collect within the Scottish industrial metropolis of Glasgow for United Nations local weather change negotiations referred to as COP26. Their job, no much less, is to determine the destiny of our planet.

This characterisation could sound dramatic. After all, UN local weather talks are held yearly, and so they’re often fairly staid affairs. But subsequent month’s COP26 summit is, no doubt, vitally necessary.

In the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, every nation pledged to ramp up their emissions discount pledges each 5 years. We’ve reached that deadline – in truth, a one-year delay as a result of COVID pandemic means six years have handed.

This five-yearly requirement set a framework for nations to succeed in net-zero emissions throughout the worldwide financial system by mid-century. The Glasgow summit is the primary actual stress check of whether or not the world can meet that aim.

COP26 is a serious check of the Paris Agreement framework. Photo: Mika Baumeister.

Global mega-trend towards a clear financial system

The Paris Agreement was the world’s first really international treaty to chop greenhouse gasoline emissions. It set a shared aim for nations to restrict international warming to 1.5? above the long-term common.

The settlement has been signed and ratified by 191 of the world’s 195 nations, giving it near-universal legitimacy.

But the precise emissions-reduction commitments nations delivered to Paris, referred to as “Nationally Determined Contributions”, left the world heading towards 3? of warming this century. This end result can be cataclysmic for ecosystems and human societies.

That’s why, each 5 years, nations should deliver progressively stronger pledges to cut back emissions.

The years because the Paris summit have seen a dramatic shift in the direction of local weather motion. Today, nations representing greater than two-thirds of the worldwide financial system have set a agency date for reaching net-zero emissions.

More importantly many jurisdictions – together with the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Japan and Canada – have considerably strengthened their 2030 targets. This constitutes a robust market sign, driving a world reallocation of personal and public funding from fossil fuels towards clear vitality options.

What’s at stake in Glasgow?

While the world is transferring quick, there stays a vital hole between present pledges and the targets of the Paris Agreement. Glasgow is seen because the final likelihood to shut that hole and maintain the 1.5? aim inside attain.

Without stronger nationwide commitments, we threat crossing irreversible “tipping points” within the Earth’s local weather system, locking in uncontrollable international warming.

The Australian authorities has inched towards saying net-zero emissions by 2050. But such a dedication is not going to be seen as notably useful in Glasgow.

In actuality, such bulletins are merely the summit’s entry ticket. Discussions have moved on, to making sure a lot deeper cuts this decade.

Barring Australia, nearly all superior economies have set new 2030 targets to slash carbon air pollution. By 2030 the UK, the summit’s host nation, plans to chop emissions by 68% beneath 1990 ranges. Meanwhile, the US will cut emissions by 50-52% beneath 2005 ranges.

The G7 nations have introduced they’ll collectively halve emissions by 2030. There are clear expectations Australia will observe swimsuit.

At current, Australia plans to take to Glasgow the identical 2030 goal it took to Paris six years in the past – a 26-28% lower by 2030, from 2005 ranges. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted he’ll take an upgraded 2030 projection (moderately than goal), however this ruse gained’t go muster.

The Paris Agreement is about targets, and nations are required to set new targets representing “highest doable ambition”. If projections recommend we’ll outperform our goal, a brand new 2030 goal is clearly wanted.

Global diplomatic strain is driving a sea change in Australia’s local weather politics. Just this month, the Business Council of Australia backed cuts to emissions by 46-50% by 2030. The Murdoch press has thrown its weight behind net-zero emissions. Even many conservative Nationals MPs seem to have dropped opposition to a net-zero goal.

There can be dawning recognition throughout the Morrison authorities that the worldwide vitality transition is underway, and it’ll considerably increase Australia’s financial system.

The Albany Wind Farm is likely one of the most spectacular and largest wind farms in Australia. Photo: bmphotographer.

Thriving in a net-zero world

Australia’s financial system is formed by developments within the international market. The worldwide automobile market is switching quickly to electrical automobiles. And all over the world, wind and photo voltaic vitality are now cheaper than coal and gasoline.

Our export markets are altering too. As rising economies in Asia meet their local weather targets, they’ll not wish to purchase coal and gasoline. Instead they’ll need renewable vitality, delivered immediately by way of undersea cable or saved as renewable hydrogen.

Such nations will nonetheless need Australian iron ore. But more and more, they’ll need “green steel” made utilizing hydrogen as a substitute of coking coal.

Global demand for batteries, electrical automobiles and renewable vitality applied sciences will drive Australian exports of vital minerals – together with lithium, cobalt and uncommon earths. Globally, these minerals shall be worth A$17.6 trillion over the subsequent 20 years.

With the best coverage settings, Australia may develop a clear export combine worth A$333 billion yearly, nearly triple the worth of present fossil gasoline exports.

Getting to net-zero could also create 672,000 jobs, and generate A$2.1 trillion in financial exercise by mid-century.

Commitments in Glasgow will spark a world race towards net-zero. But it isn’t a race we ought to be petrified of. If we embrace the transition, Australia will prosper. It’s time to get began – we now have a world to win.

This article is republished from The Conversation underneath a Creative Commons license. Author: Wesley Morgan, Researcher, Climate Council, and Research Fellow, Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University.

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Cover picture by way of COP26.

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