Global Briefing: Australia strengthens official climate targets

Canberra submits a new national climate action plan to the UN, President Biden preps fresh measures to tackle methane, and Austria cracks down on fossil fueled heating

Australia submits new NDC promising to cut emissions 43 per cent by 2030

Australia’s new government has wasted little time in strengthening its official national climate action plan, this week lodging an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat.

The Albanese administration moved quickly to draw a line under his predecessor’s climate strategy, which had faced fierce criticism from around the world over the weakness of its emissions goal.

The updated NDC commits Australia to a more ambitious 2030 target that will see it cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which is a 15 percentage point increase on Australia’s previous 2030 target.

The new submission also reaffirms Australia’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050; commits the government to providing an annual statement to on progress towards these targets; and restores Australia’s Climate Change Authority as a source of independent policy advice, after it was axed by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Labor-led government said it would now will implement a range of new policies across the economy to drive the transition to net zero.

The new targets were broadly welcomed, but green groups argued the goals needed to be more ambitious still and urged the government to quickly come forward with ambitious new decarbonisation policies that included commitments to tackle new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.


MEPs seek to block EU’s controversial pro-gas ‘green’ taxonomy

The long-running saga over whether or not nuclear and fossil gas projects should be classified as ‘green’ under a new EU investment taxonomy another twist this week, after MEPs narrowly voted against the proposals.

Lawmakers on the European Parliament’s environment committee and economic and monetary affairs committee adopted a resolution that opposes a delegated act from the Commission which would introduce specific activities linked to nuclear and gas in the green taxonomy. However, the vote was tight with 76 votes in favor and 62 against, suggesting a final vote scheduled for next month could yet go either way.

The Committees acknowledged that nuclear and gas had a role to play in a transition to a clean energy system, but they argued that “the technical review standards proposed by the Commission… do not respect the criteria of environmentally sustainable economic activities”, according to a the European Parliament press release.

The narrow victory was secured by a cross-party coalition formed between Greens, Social Democrats, and left-leaning MEPs.


Adani and TotalEnergies announce plan to build ‘world’s largest green hydrogen ecosystem’

Indian energy giant Adani and French oil and gas major TotalEnergies have entered into a new partnership to jointly create the “world’s largest green hydrogen ecosystem”.

Under the terms of the alliance, TotalEnergies is to acquire a 25 per cent minority interest in Adani New Industries Ltd (ANIL) from Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL).

The fossil fuel giants said the new partnership would center on green hydrogen and is designed to “transform the energy landscape both in India and globally”. ANIL’s ambition is to invest over $50bn over the next 10 years in green hydrogen and associated infrastructure with a view to initially developing green hydrogen production capacity of one million tons per annum before 2030.

“The strategic value of the Adani-TotalEnergies relationship is immense at both the business level and the ambition level,” said Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group. “In our journey to become the largest green hydrogen player in the world, the partnership with TotalEnergies adds several dimensions that include R&D, market reach, and an understanding of the end consumer. This fundamentally allows us to shape market demand.

“Our confidence in our ability to produce the world’s least expensive electron is what will drive our ability to produce the world’s least expensive green hydrogen. This partnership will open up a number of exciting downstream pathways.”


Biden preps fresh moves to tackle methane emissions

US President Joe Biden will today host a virtual meeting of around 20 world leaders to discuss how to accelerate climate action following last year’s agreement of the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Politico reported the White House is planning to use the call to build on the US-EU commitment made at the COP26 Climate Summit to cut methane emissions 30 per cent by 2030. New measures are expected to focus on tackling emissions from the oil and gas industry, Including through a new $60m program bringing together many of the sector’s largest players.

Biden is also reportedly expected to tout a new goal to ensure half of all vehicle sales are zero emissions by 2030 and call on world leaders to deliver on the International Energy Agency’s goal for $90bn of public investment in clean technology.


Austria pulls forward date for phasing out new gas boilers

The march of the boiler ban across Europe continued this week, with reports Austria is beefing up its renewable heating legislation to pull forward a date for ending the sale of fossil gas boilers.

Emulating similar moves in recent weeks from Germany, the Netherlands, and others in response to the energy security threat presented by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government announced that the sale of new gas boilers will now be banned from 2023 – two years earlier than the original phase out doubt. The new rules will ban the repair of oil and coal heating systems, moreover requiring households to replace them with clean alternatives if they break.

“Every gas heater we get rid of is a step out of our dependence on Russian gas,” said Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s green climate minister, in a statement. “Every flat and every house that we keep warm with sustainable heating makes us freer and less susceptible to blackmail. That’s why gas heating in new buildings will be a thing of the past from 2023 onwards.”


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