Australia back on the blocks after COP27

Shadow of person looking at smartphone with COP27 signage illuminated in background (Australia)
Image: Shutterstock

After years of being a climate laggard, Australia is back on the blocks following the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt (COP27), according to Climate Council experts.

Marathon negotiations at COP27 saw hard-won progress on addressing loss and damage but woefully inadequate shared outcomes around phasing out fossil fuels and tackling the causes of the climate crisis.

Related article: United Nations publishes ‘underwhelming’ draft COP27 deal

Positives to come out of COP27:

  • The establishment of a new global fund to address loss and damage for climate vulnerable countries, with details to be worked out and put to COP28 for agreement in late-2023. 
  • Agreement to continue striving to limit global warming to 1.5°C, recognising that the severity of impacts will be reduced with every increment of warming avoided.
  • Calls for transformation of the financial system, its structures and processes, to direct more funding to tackling the climate crisis.

Where COP27 fell down:

  • No progress on fossil fuel phase out, which is needed to avoid catastrophic warming.
  • Backsliding on adaptation finance.
  • Watered down language on human rights.

Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor and leading Australian economist who attended COP27, said, “At COP27, we saw initial talk of progress turn to desperation to save the hard-won agreements of COP26. 

“We needed a giant leap forward, but we barely managed a baby step. 

“The world’s most vulnerable nations fought long and hard for an outcome that would finally see the establishment of a fund to address loss and damage from climate change, and its inclusion in the final decision is certainly a vital step. 

“However, the fact that there is relief that the 1.5°C goal has been kept, rather than seeing much stronger commitments from big emitters on emissions reductions during the past two weeks, tells the real sad tale of COP27.

“Unless we immediately accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, then no amount of funding will be able to address the loss and damage that will result.”

“We are creating a bill we can’t pay for.” 

Climate Council research director Dr Simon Bradshaw said, “In bidding to host COP31 in four years’ time, Australia is putting its hand up to lead during a make-or-break period in the world’s response to climate change.

“Australia can play a major positive role in helping drive global climate action, at a time when leadership and cooperation has never been needed more. 

“It’s time to listen to those on the frontlines of the climate crisis—including First Nations, Pacific Island countries, and survivors of extreme weather disasters—and for Australia to rise to this immense challenge and responsibility.”

Related article: Australia announces bid to host COP31 in 2026

“The government must have a clear and ambitious vision for COP31, and work diligently and with every diplomatic tool at its disposal to line things up for success. The fossil fuel companies must be kicked out of COP,” Hutley said.

“Australia has so much to lose from climate change. The fires and floods we’ve experienced over the last three years are just the start of what’s to come. But we also have so much more to gain from the transition to renewable energy—many billions of dollars in the clean industrial revolution are there for the taking.” 

Previous articleDevil’s in the details when it comes to renewables policy
Next articleGovernment proposes to require cleaner fuel by 2025