Greg Hunt signs the Paris Agreement at UN in New York
Our member John Englart stayed up to the early hours of Saturday morning following the UN signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement in New York. John attended COP21 in Paris as an NGO observer.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop broke the news via twitter message to John that Australia had joined the Coalition of High Ambition in Paris. Countries at the United Nations this week judged that Australia was all talk, no action and chose to not invite Environment Minister Greg Hunt to a meeting of the Coalition of High Ambition. It seems that you actually need to have high targets and policies that encompass high ambition, not just talk positively with low targets and ineffectual policies.
The signing ceremony set a new world record of attendance at a signing ceremony for an international treaty. 175 nations sent representatives to formally sign the Paris Agreement. 15 of those nations also lodged their intruments of ratification. Greg Hunt announced that Australia would ratify before the end of the year.
Read John’s commentary and analysis at his blog: As Greg Hunt signs #ParisAgreement, I am still ashamed of Australia’s abysmally low climate targets.
John described in a Greenleft talk in February 2016 how Australia was already acting at variance to the Paris Agreement:
I’d like to discuss how in just two months Australia is already acting at variance to the Paris Agreement.
- Kyoto carryover credits – Malcolm Turnbull announced at COP21 that we would “meet and beat our 2020 emissions reduction target.” But our target is so low – 5% on 2000 levels and he neglected to say we are using Kyoto carryover credits from the first commitment period to meet this target.
Although legal to do this the Paris COP decision explicity states at 107: “Encourages Parties to promote the voluntary cancellation by Party…of units issued under the Kyoto Protocol” Several European countries, which exceeded much tougher targets, announced cancellation of these credits. (See With rising emissions Australia applies Kyoto credits to meet 2020 climate target)
- Rapid reduction and Peaking emissions ASAP – In article 4 it says that “Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible”. Australia’s emissions, after a decade of year on year reductions, in 2015 rose by 1.3% and within that a 3% rise from the electricity sector.
Energy analyst company Reputex estimates emissions growing to 4 per cent above 2000 levels by 2020 and that trend continuing with Australian emissions unlikely to peak before 2030. This trend at strong variance to that called for in the Paris Agreement. (See With rising emissions Australia applies Kyoto credits to meet 2020 climate target, Burying the bad news at Christmas: Australian Greenhouse Gas emissions rising)
- Axing CSIRO climate science jobs breaches article 7 – The Abbott Government cut $112 million from CSIRO budget in 2014 (ABC report). Turnbull promised $90 million in December 2015 (ITNews report) to support innovation and increased commercialisation of research. A further $28 million was allocated to market innovation policy (ABC report).
CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall announced staff cuts in two key climate research divisions. This undermines Australia’s commitment in Article 7 of the Paris Agreement: “Strengthening scientific knowledge on climate, including research, systematic observation of the climate system and early warning systems, in a manner that informs climate services and supports decision-making;”. More than 2900 climate scientists have signed an open letter opposed to these cuts. (SMH report)
- (A fourth negation of the spirit of the Paris Agreement, since this talk transpired, is Industry and Science Minister Christopher Pyne announcing on 24 February 2016 funding of a Fossil fuel growth centre while silence remains on Australia’s Mission Innovation commitment to clean energy development technologies.)