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Byron Shire
April 11, 2021

Paris: no u-turn on clean energy?

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The first Australian analysis of possible outcomes from upcoming 21st ‘conference of parties’ (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris, was released by The Climate Institute today.

The policy brief, entitled Paris Climate Summit: Catalyst for further action? outlines three possible outcome scenarios from the COP21 negotiations on a post-2020 agreement – ‘Catalyst’, ‘Momentum’ and ‘Patchwork’.

‘We do not expect, under any of the possible outcomes, that the world will do a U-turn on clean energy investment trends after COP21 and return to investing more in fossil fuel power than it does in clean energy,’ said Deputy CEO Erwin Jackson, who is attending the negotiations planned for 30 November to 11 December. 

‘COP21 won’t fix everything but the best possible agreement will be one that very clearly sets the world on a path to the international goal of avoiding global warming of 2°C above pre-industrial levels and meets three key criteria – Is it bankable? Does it build trust and accountability? Is it fair?

‘The aim of the COP21 conference is to end up with an agreement that drives stronger and stronger domestic policies from all countries to boost clean technologies, limit carbon pollution and help avoid 2°C warming.

‘COP21 has already succeeded in putting pressure on countries, including Australia, to put forward new pollution targets and to begin developing new policies to achieve them, when they may otherwise have not done that.

Accountable and fair

‘When we talk about a COP21 agreement being bankable, accountable and fair, we are talking about achieving high levels of investment confidence that policies will continually ratchet up to achieve net zero emissions,’ Jackson said.

‘We are also talking about credible rules to ensure that best practices are shared and that the actions countries commit to are transparent, accountable and regularly reviewed.

‘A fair agreement would ensure the world’s poorest nations have access to predictable investment support that lets them participate in clean technology solutions and the management of climate risks,’ Erwin Jackson said. 

“With these three criteria firmly in place, the agreement stands a chance of achieving our ‘Catalyst’ scenario, which sets the scene for countries, business and investors to accelerate actions to end emissions through time.”

Under the ‘Momentum’ scenario, the net zero emissions goal may not be as clear. The process to step action is less defined, but the 2°C goal is kept in sight. Domestic actions develop over time and new targets are set. 

The ‘Patchwork’ scenario would see a lack of clarity on key issues, but investment in clean energy and climate solutions continues within those countries and industries, seeing action as part of their own long term prosperity.

While The Climate Institute has criticised the government’s initial post-2020 target as “inadequate”, CEO John Connor said Australia could still be a player in achieving the best possible scenario at COP21 in Paris.

‘The Australian government can help COP21 be a real catalyst for action by supporting vital positions for that scenario: strong ratchet mechanisms; inclusion of a long term 2050 net zero emissions goal, and; delivering on commitments to scale up climate finance support for developing countries,’ Connor said.

‘Our analysis of the Emissions Reduction Fund and other current policy makes clear Australia can’t yet credibly deliver on its commitment to help avoid 2°C warming. Now is the time to develop the policies that really matter in doing our bit with other countries, and also in modernising and cleaning up our economy,’ Connor concluded.

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