Biden-led climate summit a chance to reflect on Australian successes, ambitions

The vaunted virtual Leaders’ Climate Summit, convened by US President Joe Biden in cooperation with 40 world leaders, has commenced. Taking place from 23-24 April, the event offers an opportunity for debate on the important issues of climate change and emissions reduction ahead of the UN’s COP26 event in Glasgow this November.

It is the most high-profile climate change discussion of the year so far, affording the opportunity for participating countries’ leaders to announce new and developing climate change policies. This is particularly true of the US President, who took the opportunity as convenor to consolidate his government’s climate change policy in the wake of predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a noted supporter of the gas industry’s potential for contribution to a cleaner energy future, was also in attendance. Prime Minister Morrison has often highlighted the nation’s place as a world-class LNG exporter, having recently pledged more than half a billion dollars in support for emission reduction technologies such as clean hydrogen hubs – he compared Australia’s potential as a hydrogen hub to Silicon Valley – and carbon capture and storage (CCS) activities.

Prime Minister Morrison stated that Australia’s long-term emissions reduction strategy would be updated in time for COP26 and that Australia was on the “path to net zero”.

The Summit represents an opportunity for Australian engagement with the international community in the pursuit of climate change policies that are economically efficient and environmentally effective. Natural gas plays a vital role in reducing Australia’s and Asia’s emissions. Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) is helping to reduce emissions in importing countries by about 170 million tonnes each year.

Achieving net zero emissions in line with the objectives of the 2016 Paris Agreement by 2050 is an important goal of national and international policy, and Australia’s world-class natural gas industry has huge potential to help achieve this as demand continues to ramp up; Southeast Asian demand alone is set to double by 2040, even in scenarios where global net zero emissions by 2050 are considered.

Natural gas is a natural part of an emissions reduction future and Australia should not be afraid to recognise its strengths in this area. It is a vital component in the climate change conversation and will remain so for decades to come.

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