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Energy, Environment

COP 28 must target fossil fuel exports to curb increasing CO2 emissions – UNSW Report

Professor Jeremy Moss, University of NSW 3 mins read
Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA continue to increase their export emissions - there is currently no mechanism to curb this disturbing trend.

Disturbing reports revealing that CO2 emissions are increasing despite a global commitment to reach net-zero by 2050 mean COP must finally address the elephant in the room – the increasing export and trade in fossil fuels.

With the Global Carbon Project reporting that Global CO2 emissions are now 6 per cent higher than they were in 2015, and 1.1% higher than last year, and Climate Trace, led by Al Gore, revealing that many countries are not accurately reporting their real greenhouse gas emissions, UNSW Political Philosophy Professor Jeremy Moss says it is imperative that all sources of greenhouse gas emissions are properly regulated and accounted for.

‘As the window of opportunity to limit climate change reduces, it is now morally and practically indefensible for states to brag about their domestic emissions reductions while continuing to increase their fossil fuel exports,’ says Jeremy Moss.

His report, Why fossil fuel exporters must accept their emissions liability , co-authored with University College London Associate Professor of Energy Systems Steve Pye reveals that export emissions from Australia, Canada, Norway and USA grew by 4.4 percent per year from 0.5 GtCO2 in 1980 to 3.4 GtCO2 in 2020:  

The report also finds that coal, oil and gas exports from Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA amount to 11percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 – which dwarf their domestic emission (except for the US) - and argues that they must take responsibility for reducing their export emissions for any hope of keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degrees C.

“Our calculations show that the cumulative emissions associated with fossil fuel exports from Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA over the next 7 years (to 2030) is equivalent to around 11% of the remaining global carbon budget,” says Steve Pye.

Australia’s ‘exported emissions’ are three times as high as it uses domestically, and Norway’s are thirteen times its domestic emissions, the report finds – but they only set emission reduction targets for the emissions that they generate in their own countries.

“These four Industrialised first world democracies need to play a leading role in taking responsibility not just for reducing their export emissions, but also for the harm those emissions cause. That means increasing their mitigation ambitions, assisting with adaptation, and possibly compensating those harmed through loss and damage provisions,” says Jeremy Moss.

 

Download the report

Two page Briefing


Key Facts:

Key recommendations:

·        The COP process needs to fully acknowledge the need for a plan to phase out all fossil fuels, including reductions in exports.

·        States at COP should adopt an ‘export net zero’ target in addition to a domestic emissions reduction target.

·        States must accept that action on climate change must include reducing their emissions associated with their fossil fuel exports as well as direct domestic emissions.

·        Lack of consideration of the impact of export emissions is a significant roadblock to climate action.

 

·        National (and ambitious) emissions targets should include targets to reduce export emissions and domestic emissions.


About us:

Jeremy Moss is professor of political philosophy at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He is co-author of the recent Oxfam report:   and the author of several books on climate change including: Carbon Justice: the Scandal of Australia’s Biggest Contribution to Climate Change. He explains why we have a moral responsibility for all our fossil fuel emissions, including those we export, in this UNSW video  

 

Steve Pye is Associate Professor of Energy Systems at University College London. He has published extensively on transitions to low carbon energy systems, with a particular interest in fossil fuel phase out. His widely read 2021 article in Nature titled “Unextractable fossil fuels in a 1.5°C world” argued for leaving the majority of fossil fuels in the ground. He is an author on UNEP’s Production Gap report, and co-lead of the Redline database (redlinedatabase.org).


Contact details:

Carolin Wenzel              

M: +61 417 668 957   E:  carolin@commsforchange.com.au

Prof Jeremy Moss       

M: +61 425 753 124     E: J.Moss@unsw.edu.au

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