Part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has once again leaked a document showing more than 10,000 requests from governments, scientists, meat and fossil fuel lobbyists to modify the final draft of the Report, which will be sent to the UN for modification (censorship), approval and final publication.
These leaks are in addition to those published in June 2021 through the Agency France Press (AFP) and which, among many other aspects, emphasised the statement that the planet would continue to warm regardless of our reductions in CO2 emissions. This calls into question the possibility of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5ºC with respect to pre-industrial levels.
Tipping points reached?
This is mainly owing to the fact that several tipping points, or points of no return, have already been exceeded. Tipping points are where some ecosystems have changed to become net emitters of CO2, such as the Amazon rainforest, or the boreal forests of Siberia that contain large areas of permafrost.
Regardless of our ‘commitment’ to reach a scenario of zero net emissions by 2050, parts of our ecosystems are no longer in balance. This has been foreseen for many years, and brings us closer to scenarios that are very far from the possibility of mitigating climate change. It is therefore easy to recognie the increasingly common use by governments and the press of the term ‘adaptation to climate change’ rather than that of ‘mitigation of climate change’.
These new IPCC leaks were sent to Greenpeace for media coverage. The BBC has reported that: ‘one senior Australian government official rejected the conclusion that closing coal-fired power plants is necessary, even though ending the use of coal is one of the stated objectives of the COP26 conference’.
The report goes on to say: ‘Australia asks IPCC scientists to delete a reference to analysis of the role played by fossil fuel lobbyists in watering down action on climate in Australia and the US’.
But Australia is not alone in its lobbying to have the IPCC’s report altered. OPEC or the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also entered a plea:
‘OPEC also asks the IPCC to delete ‘lobby activism, protecting rent extracting business models, prevents political action’ according to the BBC.
It is understandable that the Australian government, acting to protect economic interests, issue these types of requests. Australia is the largest coal producer and exporter in the world. It is one of the few coal exporters who continue to approve new large-scale coal mining projects in direct contravention to the agreements made in previous COP meetings.
Australia continues to duck and weave
Coal is considered the dirtiest of all fossil fuels and thus the mitigation and eventual elimination of its use is an important, if not the most important, step towards climate change mitigation.
In addition, the current Australian government continues to avoid its agreed COP responsibilities towards climate action and the abandonment of fossil fuels. Notably in 2020 Australia became the world’s largest exporter of liquefied gas with 80 million tonnes, surpassing Qatar and almost doubling the amount exported by the US.
Australia’s affection for fossil fuels is highlighted by its dependence on fossil fuels domestically, generating 76 per cent of its electricity in 2020 by burning coal (54 per cent), gas (20 per cent), and oil (2 per cent). In comparison 24 per cent of energy generation was with renewable energy; an increase of only two percentage points over the previous year. Australia is by no means alone with slow uptake of renewable energy generation, it is common in countries with high per capita energy consumption.
Scott Morrison recently stated that the Australian government is relying on the necessary investment in carbon capture technology to mitigate the effects of climate change. This is a long held Liberal Party position with little or no scientific foundation. They are taking this position instead of acting on the decarboniszation plans that Australia and the other member countries agreed to at COP21. This means that Australia continues to rely on a last-ditch, hit-and-miss ‘technoptimistic’ attempt to avoid their previously agreed to obligations to move towards an ecologically sustainable world.
Australia is the country with the highest per capita emissions on the planet, surpassing China by nine times, the USA by four times and India’s per capita emissions by thirty-seven times. According to 2017 data, Australia has the fifth highest total emissions on the planet with a population of only 25 million inhabitants.
We live in a time when freedom of choice has become a hot topic as a result of lockdowns and vaccines with the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. ‘Freedom’ has always been the slogan of our capitalistic economic system; a freedom that is built upon the enslavement of the planet’s ecosystems, but this is a more complex discussion for a later time…
Our only question for Australians today is: Why are you choosing this destructive path forward?
♦ Alejandro Aleman has just finished a Masters in ‘Humanidades Ecológicas, Sustentabilidad y Transición Ecosocial’ (Ecological Humanities, Sustainability and Ecosocial Transition) through two Spanish universities UPV and UAM. Marcus O’Mullane has a Masters in large scale algae biodiesel production.