• Raft of new climate target announcements surround Leaders’ Summit on Climate, pointing to coming decade of huge change in energy sector

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

US President Joe Biden has hosted a virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate featuring some major announcements on climate targets and actions, with 40 leaders taking part. The most striking announcement was the USA committing to reducing net economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% by 2030 from 2005 (levels were already ~14% below those of 2005 pre-pandemic), but it was only one of several countries to announce to new targets:

Additionally during the summit, China pledged to more strictly control coal-fired power generation projects during the next five-year plan period, starting in 2026. Australia, which currently has a rather unambitious target of a reduction of 26-28% in emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, said that it would “update” its long-term emissions strategy at the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November, though the Australian government did announce AU$275.5 million in funding over the next decade for development for an additional four hydrogen ‘hubs’, and AU$263.7 for carbon capture and storage projects. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was accidentally muted at the beginning of the summit.

While the Canadian target received domestic criticism for not being ambitious enough, it is arguably the most ambitious, given the country’s pre-pandemic levels relative to 2005. The US target has been received with the most enthusiasm by climate campaigners, probably because of the contrast in perceived intent relative to the previous Trump administration. All the major recent target announcements, however, including those of the UK, Japan and the EU are highly ambitious, given the huge reductions that they entail within only a nine-year period. Should the various countries and areas meet their targets, or even if they make substantial progress towards them, it will mean huge changes to the energy sector, with more deployment of renewables, batteries, nuclear, carbon capture and storage, biomass firing, and use of ammonia and hydrogen, along with a continuing trend away from coal towards natural gas and a renewed focus on energy efficiency. More announcements are sure to come at COP26 in November.