The United Nations Conference on Climate Change

The Pros

  • 200 countries agreed to endeavour to limit global warming to 1.5°C via the new “Glasgow Climate Pact
  • Fossil fuels identified as the primary cause of the climate crisis, for the first time.
  • 40 countries including NZ agree to phase out unabated coal power and end international coal financing.
  • 105 countries including NZ committed to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.
  • All countries will have to report on emission baselines from 2024.
  • Commitment to double ‘adaptation finance’ — funding to help the lowest income countries improve climate resilience.
  • NZ and other countries pledge to revisit and strengthen their current emissions targets to 2030 (Nationally Determined Contributions).
  • 90 per cent of the planet’s forests covered by a pledge from 130 countries to end deforestation.
  • Some of the world’s largest car manufacturers have agreed to work together to make all new car sales zero emission by 2040.
  • Creation of an accounting system intended to prevent double counting of emissions reductions.

The Cons

  • Greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 for global warming to be maintained at 1.5°C. Under existing Cop26 pledges, emissions may be 14% higher than in 2010 by 2030.
  • The Glasgow Climate Pact is a step forward, but unlikely enough to limit global temperature rises to 2°C.
  • No profound pledges or strong changes to reduce Co2e emissions.
  • Weakened language to phase-down” fossil fuel use.
  • Countries are ‘requested’ annually to increase pledges and give evidence that they are delivering on them.
  • Few countries have fully fledged plans on how they will deliver.
  • Bold, fast and transformative actions to address the climate crisis not apparent.
  • No funding for developing countries for loss/damage.
  • Gap and delayed action between implementation/action and policies and pledges.

What does this mean for New Zealand?

New Zealand is boosting its pledge to cut net emissions from 30 percent to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

It is expected that the Climate Change Commission’s carbon cutting road map and recommendations are likely to be accepted.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a climate emergency last year and set the target for 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. She confirmed that the Government would be revising the climate pledge next year, coupled with a draft carbon budget that sets targets for reduction.

The cost of being carbon neutral has been estimated by the Commission at around 1 percent of projected GDP, or $190m a year over the next four years, $11.5 billion ($2.3b a year) over the following five years and $21.5b ($4.3b a year) from 2030-35.

The cost of not doing anything is predicted to be much higher. In 2020, Deloitte reported that inaction on climate change could reduce Australia’s economy by 6 percent, resulting in 880,000 fewer jobs by 2070, losing A$3.4 trillion (NZ$3.6t) over the next 50 years.

Costs globally of implementing a green transition to deliver on net zero carbon emissions have been estimated at 6-10% of GDP, versus inaction at 10-18% of GDP.

It is likely that further organisations may be required to step up with climate change initiatives, prepare climate change plans, risk plans, climate related financial disclosures, mandated reporting on carbon emitting activities, benchmarking and verification, and evidence of planning/action and targets.