Albanese government may join US push to cut global methane emissions by 30% | Greenhouse gas emissions

The Albanian government could endorse Joe Biden’s efforts to limit global methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by the end of the decade, as part of efforts to signal that Australia has turned the corner. back to climate ambition.

Australian Resources Minister Madeleine King confirmed that the new government was considering signing the global pledge, but stressed that no final decision would be made without extensive consultation.

” We watch [the global methane pledge] seriously and we also take the consultation seriously because our resource and agricultural export industries are very important to the economy, and they deserve to be respected and not suffer shocks,” said King in an interview.

Biden used last year’s climate summit in Glasgow to push for a pact to cut global methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels before 2030. More than 100 countries have taken the pledge, but the Morrison government refused to sign.

The National Party insisted on no methane reduction during negotiations with the Liberals on the 2050 net zero target. At the time, the National Farmers Federation backed Morrison’s refusal to sign on to the initiative Biden, but Farmers for Climate Action urged Australia to commit to reducing methane.

King said to reduce methane emissions – which are more than 80 times more potent than CO2 – was “a big challenge for agriculture and the gas industry, but they are very present and have been talking for several years about how they are reducing their methane”.

The minister noted that the existing safeguard mechanism, which Labor will use to drive more ambitious emissions cuts in the medium term, already included methane, so the overhaul would help cut emissions. But she said Australia’s signing of the global compact is “certainly something we are looking at actively”.

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The potential revival of the methane pledge would be part of the new government’s effort to extricate itself from what Anthony Albanese calls “the evil corner” of global climate action, projecting renewed political ambition both in the Pacific and the rest of the world.

But while signaling a possible change on methane, King continues to advocate increasing the supply of the gas – a polluting fossil fuel increasingly at the forefront of the battle to contain runaway risks from global warming.

King said she did not intend to be a federal resources minister actively resisting the transition to low emissions – a position that many of her predecessors in the portfolio, both from the Coalition and of the Labor Party, adopted.

She said: “My goal is to ensure that the resource portfolio and therefore the industry is seen by the community…as moving towards net zero”. King said this realignment must be “to be part of the solution.”

The minister also hailed activism from the environmental movement and shareholders, including a series of legal challenges testing the approval of Australian fossil fuel developments on the basis of their projected contribution to global warming.

“I’m not afraid of activism because activism in this space has pushed people to a good place on net zero emissions,” King said.

But she insisted that gas was an essential part of the transition to net zero. “We want to achieve a decarbonized economy, a decarbonized globe, to reduce the negative effects of climate change”.

“We all want that. Some of us disagree on how and when we get there. People have to figure out if they want what they have – homes, electricity, cars, heated pools – we have to think about how we power that, and mostly in southern states. [is] coal-fired.

“We want to move away from coal-fired power plants…and eventually we want to move to renewables, storage and hydrogen, but the path from coal to renewables is only through gas.

“It’s the truth. Even if you don’t want to hear it, this is how we will reduce our emissions over time. We have to accept the reality here. We want the same, but we have to be realistic about how we will get there.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that the world cannot afford major new fossil fuel projects, including new gas fields, if we are to stay within safe limits of global warming.

King said she respected the IEA’s analysis and that Australia had not abandoned the goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, but she insisted that gas was the main transition fuel in the net zero crossing.

King said he was irritated that the national transition debate had been stalled where it had been more than a decade ago, when Labor put in place a price on carbon and characterized gas as a transition fuel.

“I understand that people want [decarbonise] sooner,” the minister said. “Me too.”

“I’m frustrated. I’m as angry as anyone. I’ve also witnessed in the opposition. There’s not much you can do about the opposition while [the Coalition] played while Rome burned.

“It’s horrible, the lack of what they’ve done… We can look back and complain all we want and we’ll point out the shortcomings, but we also have to move forward and accept the truth. .”

Amid soaring energy prices, threats of blackouts in five states and the recent suspension of the wholesale electricity market, King also considered options to boost domestic gas supply. , in particular by reserving the supply for domestic use.

She said the gas sector had been set up as an export industry and there were not many non-contract products to work with.

King said the government was considering a number of options, including using supply from the controversial Narrabri gas project, which has passed environmental approvals but has yet to secure any native title agreements. .

She said that Santos, the developer of the Narrabri development, had committed to supplying this gas to the domestic market, but “do they need to reinforce that commitment? Maybe they do”.

King said the Albanian government would not be able to replicate the gas reservation model in place in his home state of Western Australia. “Unwinding long-term contracts is very difficult. We’re looking at the full range of possibilities, but reverse-engineering something like the WA proposal is very, very difficult.

She also pointed to increased taxpayer support for carbon capture and storage.

King said the government was looking at existing programs to see how they could work better and be harmonised, and she flagged a potential return to the flagship model that was implemented by the Rudd government to support industry and development projects. research.

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