Climate Policy is Economic Policy at MEF

Climate Policy is Economic Policy at Annual Forum - MEF

At last week’s virtual Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), President Biden laid out climate initiatives for global leaders, including making progress on methane emissions, scaling up zero-emission vehicles, and investing in clean energy technology innovation. But he stopped short of any direct call to stop fossil fuel production, especially in light of rising gas prices related to the war in Ukraine. While Biden attempted to strike a political balance between short-term ease and long-term decarbonization, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took a firmer stance on the fossil fuel industry. He compared it to Big Tobacco’s harm and use of public deception and echoed parts of his speech from the Austrian World Summit, where he called fossil fuel exploration and production "delusional.”

“Had we invested earlier and massively in renewable energy, we would not find ourselves once again at the mercy of unstable fossil fuel markets,” Guterres said at the forum. “Let’s make sure the war in Ukraine is not used to increase that dependency.”

White House: President Biden Delivers Remarks at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, June 17, 2022.

Why This Matters

Attendees of the virtual conference were from the countries responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions, so their energy policies collectively make a sizable impact. Increasing oil and gas production in the face of the Ukraine crisis is the opposite direction the world needs to go in, especially for its largest economies.  On its current trajectory, the world will sail past the 1.5-degree threshold of warming, making sea level rise, food shortages, and extreme storms more likely.

Reuters: World could see 1.5C of warming in next five years, May 10, 2022.

MSNBC: Climate Change Is Our Greatest Existential Threat, January 3, 2022.

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 7, 2021.

Australia Ups its Climate Targets

At the conference, Australia’s recently elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a new national emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030. The announcement also included a $20 billion investment in Australia’s electricity grid to accelerate decarbonization and a $10 million fund to train people in clean energy jobs.

"Addressing climate change is an investment in Australia's future,” Albanese said. “By producing more renewable energy, we can lower power prices for Australians and create jobs and new industries here."

ABC (Australia): Australian PM Anthony Albanese commits to new UN climate change agreement, June 15, 2022.

60 Minutes (Australia): Can renewable energy turn Australia into a global superpower?, May 1, 2022.