Climate change, sustainability and a greener global economy

Climate change, sustainability and a greener global economy

Our take on the upcoming COP26 summit

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought devastation to millions around the world, disrupting many parts of the global economy. Governments have stepped up to protect lives and livelihoods – every country has battled the threat of the virus in their own way. But climate change has continued, and it ultimately threatens life across the world.

As countries begin to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth considering if the world could take this historic opportunity to tackle climate change at the same time? Can we together build back better, and greener?

That’s exactly the goal of the UN Climate Change Conference being held next month in Glasgow. For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits (COPs). In that time, climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. In the run up to COP26 (the 26th summit) the UK is working with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. More than 190 world leaders are expected to arrive in Scotland. Together with thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks.

As a sustainable technology company, we are not only excited about the outcome of this conference, we are also pleased. It has been a long time since the last in Paris in 2015 and we are hopeful that a global pandemic has only fuelled fire in our great nations to come together to make real change.

Here’s the top four goals of the COP26 and our take on how Australia may be tracking.

1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

Yes, it’s a big one because each country will reveal their updated plans on how they will reduce their carbon emissions with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets. To deliver, countries will need to accelerate the phaseout of coal, invest in renewables, curtail deforestation and speed up the switch to electric vehicles.

If you ask about how Australia is tracking, you might get a different answer each time. Australia is viewed as one of the top-20 worst greenhouse gas emitters, although we total just one per cent of world emissions. The Government says we are on track, but it will be interesting to see how it plans to reduce emissions further over the next decade.

Almost all advanced economies have set new 2030 targets to slash carbon pollution. By 2030 the UK, the summit’s host nation, plans to cut emissions by 68% below 1990 levels. Meanwhile, the US will cut emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels.

2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

People across the world are already living with devastating extreme weather heightened by the changing climate. Storms, floods and wildfires are intensifying. Air pollution sadly affects the health of tens of millions of people. Protecting and restoring habitats is a powerful way to boost resilience to the impacts of climate change. As part of the conference, all countries should produce an Adaptation Communication at COP26 to summarise what their plan is to adapt to these impacts.

The Australian Government is developing a new National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy, to be released ahead of the COP26 next month. The strategy must ensure Australia does better to manage climate damage already happening, as well as prepare for future disasters. Australia once led the world in climate adaptation, but efforts have fallen by the wayside slowly over the last decade.

3. Mobilise finance

To realise the first two goals, developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year. International financial institutions must play their part and we need to work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

Australia is committed to doing its part to meet this UNFCCC goal. The Australian Government reports that it exceeded its 2015-2020 commitment to provide at least $1 billion in climate finance over five years, providing $1.4 billion to support developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. This included over $300 million over four years for climate change and disaster resilience support for the Pacific.

In December last year, Prime Minister Morrison announced that Australia would extend its climate finance commitment with a $1.5 billion pledge over 2020-2025. This will be implemented through Australia’s development assistance program.

4. Work together to deliver

We can only rise to the challenges of climate change by working together. At COP26 the organiser’s plan to finalise the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement). The aim is to also turn ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on climate goals faster.

Australia, a large producer of coal and gas, is under pressure to commit to stronger climate action. Its climate policies and emissions reductions are ranked among the worst in the OECD. Out of all the countries in the world, Australia has the most to gain from transitioning to a renewable economy – yet also has the most to lose from inaction, due to our vulnerability to climate impacts.

So, is this conference the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control? We think so.

We are hopeful that COP26 will provide enough momentum and public pressure to ask for the world to come together to deliver green recoveries. To bring in good jobs, trillions in investment and ground-breaking new technology.

For us at Papyrus we are excited to be part of the change toward a more sustainable future. We are passionate about helping the world turn greener by 2050 or earlier.

It may not be sustainable technology that is on the COP26 agenda yet, but even so we are proud to meet the criteria of an environmentally sustainable manufacturing process. Our Papyrus technology in turn helps us to address the needs of today, while ensuring we preserve opportunity for future generations.

We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the COP26 with eagerness. Watch this space.