by Peter Castellas, Chief Executive Officer of the Carbon Market Institute.
Its time for Australia to rise above domestic politics and make a genuine contribution to addressing the global challenge of climate change.
After an engaging time on the ground in the heart of coal country Poland at COP24, it was clear to me that with Australia’s depth of capability across policy, technology, markets and finance there are many dimensions where public and private sector actors can play a more proactive role in helping Australia and the world meet Paris Agreement goals.
After marathon negotiations in Poland, countries reached a consensus to produce a 156 page rule book for implementing the Paris Agreement. There are arguments about whether it is ambitious enough or not. There was also great disappointment that the rules on how carbon markets will operate were not agreed, pushing that to next year. However it is important to recognise that countries can still agree linking arrangements, and trade in and out of Australia can still happen through policy decision and bilateral relations. The Paris Agreement Article 6 rules will then provide the guidance and accounting rules that could be later applied.
There was a strong contingent of Australians in Poland, including many expats who are driving climate initiatives from other locales. The private sector engagement is encouraging and it reaffirms the post Paris 2015 bounce that business and finance are attuned to the risks and opportunities that global developments in addressing climate change present.
However a big takeaway for me is that Australia’s ambition and climate action will need to increase. To see the strong, constructive bipartisan position that our Kiwi friends from across the Tasman have taken at home and promoted here at COP24 has left many Australians envious of the leadership they are showing and justifiably questioning why Australia cannot emulate the bipartisan, responsible approach to our collective global challenge.
I think we need a stronger sense of purpose.
As a nation we can be a force for good. The world could really benefit from Australian business and government constructively engaging in international climate action; to build capacity, to deploy capital, to design and link markets.
The Australian government and private sector must work in collaboration if we are to optimise our position as international markets evolve.
COP24 concluded with a platform that necessitates a renewed, mature conversation about how we can align diplomacy, aid and trade to play a responsible role in our region to reduce emissions, build new bilateral relationships as well as create economic opportunities for Australian business.
Ideally, 2019 can be a turning point where we emerge from the pack and lead. C’mon!