Here in the Pacific, Australia has most sensationally broken a third promise of the Paris Agreement: to channel our climate finance through a single global mechanism into the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to make it easier for those on the front lines of this climate crisis. After following the Trump administration out of the door of the GCF, we still have to come back with our tails between our legs, which means that we are effectively isolated among the major donor countries. To counter this trend, Australia should make the most of some of the world`s best renewable energy sources and become a major net exporter of clean energy – converted into green hydrogen for export or perhaps directly to countries via submarine transmission cables. Unfortunately, my own country has now shown that it is ready to break both the letter and the spirit of the agreement it has signed. This is particularly annoying given the extent to which Australia has been in Paris to ally with those fighting for the strongest deal possible. At COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009, it was hoped that a new legally binding agreement would build on the Kyoto Protocol. Although this meeting did not meet these expectations, the Copenhagen Accord recognized, among other things, the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the rise in global temperature to less than 2°C. The gas-led recovery ignores warnings from businesses, industry and environmental organisations to support a green recovery, particularly employment opportunities through accelerated investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The government will change the responsibilities of the crown`s funding and research agencies to be technologically neutral if they are designed to support clean energy. The government also intends to take over investments in fossil fuels and is funding a study on new coal-fired power plants. Government forecasts for 2019 show that Australia is on track to increase coal production from 634 Mt in 2020 to 659 Mt in 2030 and natural gas production from 82 Mt in 2020 to 87 Mt in 2030. Australia`s emissions, excluding the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, have increased by 5% since 2014, when the federal government abolished the carbon pricing system. The government intends to achieve its target primarily by transferring Kyoto – a move that a number of other countries with such transfers have explicitly rejected.
These transmission units account for more than half of the mitigation task according to current government forecasts (excluding the impact of the pandemic). As of November 2020, 194 states and the European Union had signed the agreement. 188 countries and the EU, which account for about 79% of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified or acceded to the Convention, including China and India, the countries with the 1st and 3rd largest CO2 emissions among UNFCCC members.    The 197 members of the UNFCCC have signed or acceded to the Paris Agreement. Six years ago, I was one of hundreds of official delegates standing in a temporary UN plenary room at Le Bourget when the Paris Agreement was adopted after years of negotiations. Investor and public attention is shifting to anticipating short- and medium-term commitments in addition to the mid-century net zero long-term goals. A significant portion of Australia`s private capital is now shaped by climate goals. Australia`s planned NDC, published by the federal government in August 2015 before the adoption of the Paris Agreement, committed Australia to implementing a « macroeconomic target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030 ».
However, Australia has limited its objectives by reserving the right to adjust its objective « in the event that the rules and other arrangements underlying the agreement deviate in a way that materially affects the definition of our objective ». Australia has not committed to climate neutrality for the second half of this century. This means that Australia is undermining the international treaty that is at the heart of the fight against climate change – and once again highlighting the need to incorporate Australian climate agreements into national law. Both the EU and its Member States are individually responsible for ratifying the Paris Agreement. A strong preference has been expressed for the EU and its 28 Member States to deposit their instruments of ratification at the same time to ensure that neither the EU nor its Member States commit to commitments that strictly belong to each other, and there are concerns that there will be disagreement on each Member State`s share of the EU-wide reduction target – as well as the UK`s vote. in favor of leaving the EU could undermine the Paris Delay the Pact.  However, the European Parliament approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement on 4 October 2016 and the EU deposited its instruments of ratification on 5 October 2016 with several EU Member States.  The government has shown no signs of expanding climate action and does not plan to increase its 2030 NDC target or adopt a net-zero or stricter emissions reduction target. The government plans to meet its NDC 2030 Paris Agreement target by using excess emission units from the Kyoto Protocol, significantly reducing actual emission reductions while other countries have excluded transportation. The response to the COVID pandemic has intensified the debate on how to balance economic recovery with climate ambitions, even though economic setbacks have been less severe than in other parts of the world.
The federal government has focused on protecting the incomes of individuals and businesses, while largely ignoring the significant potential benefits of green incentives. Australia faces a federal election by mid-2022, with the potential to be crucial for climate action. Increased climate ambitions are expected if the elections lead to a party change or a significantly wider majority for the current coalition government, meaning it could overcome internal divisions on this issue. The decline in economic activity in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2030, although Australia has not implemented an effective climate policy. The Australian government initiated a gas-led recovery rather than a green recovery and continued to signal its support for the coal industry. The government has shown no intention of updating its Paris Agreement target or adopting a net-zero emissions target, with the prime minister explicitly excluding it. The government is focusing on what it calls a « technology-neutral » approach that is refuted by its focus on gas. Investment in renewable energy has fallen to 2017 levels due to uncertainty in the government`s policy direction. There is a lack of climate action, despite growing climate impacts such as the catastrophic bushfires that enveloped several countries in late 2019 and early 2020. The CAT considers Australia`s target for the Paris Agreement to be « inadequate ».
The Paris Agreement also states, for the first time in an international climate agreement, that we should « make efforts » to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C (Article 2). In Paris, the IPCC was invited to present a new special report (known as SR1.5) in 2018 on the effects of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. In addition, the Parties aim to maximise global greenhouse gas emissions « as soon as possible » (Article 4). Under our Constitution, this treaty has no legal effect on national conduct unless the content of an international treaty signed by Australia is also enshrined in Australian law. The Australian INDC states that Australia « will implement a macroeconomic target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030 ». The comparison of objectives between Member States is hampered by the use of different base years as well as different target years. For example, in comparison, the Australian government estimates that Australia will achieve its 2030 target « through a policy that builds on its proven approach to direct action. » These measures include the Emissions Reduction Fund and the associated safeguard mechanism, as well as a number of other measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy productivity. Figure 1 below shows the key relevant measures and the magnitude of emission reductions that the Government believes these measures can potentially achieve in relation to Australia`s 2030 target. .