Five good things about climate action that maybe you didn’t know

By the Climate VC Fund Team

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by bad climate news – there’s certainly enough of it. But what about good news – there is some, isn’t there? 

Indeed so! Here are five things we loved hearing about this month. Actually, six or seven if you look closely.

  1. Emissions are tracking down

Data from Stats NZ this week shows New Zealand CO2e emissions fell for a third year – implying gross emissions may have peaked. Annual emissions fell 5% in 2020 and 1% in 2021 (with both years heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic), but also a further 3% in 2022, in spite of economic stimulus measures.

The biggest fall came in energy, water and gas, reinforcing a trend in reduced coal use, which has now plummeted to the lowest level in 32 years. To be fair, this season’s heavy rainfall has helped hydro generation but the overall trend is clear.

The biggest rise was in transport, postal and warehousing. Electrifying the fleet has never been more important!

Australia’s emissions are also trending down but more marginally, with a reduction of 0.2% reported in the year to March 2023. 

  1. The New Zealand Government changed its position on carbon pricing

Following advice from the NZ Climate Change Commission – and a legal challenge by Lawyers for Climate Action – the New Zealand government adopted a new approach to the quarterly carbon auction. As reported in Newsroom it will “curtail the number of units auctioned into the scheme in an effort to draw down a stockpile of units already held by polluters, which were obtained when the price of carbon was low. They [will] also increase the floor on the carbon price substantially and drastically increase a soft price ceiling, to better allow the market to find the right price to cut emissions.”

The result in the carbon price was an immediate uptick from the tighter control of emissions units and the increased certainty about ETS rules for the near-future.

3. Governments are putting in real money, not just words

While New Zealand staggers towards some climate action, serious weight is being put in by governments elsewhere. The big kahuna is the US Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping piece of legislation that covers economic, health, social and climate sectors. It’s predicted to lead to between US$783 billion and US$1 trillion in spending on decarbonisation, and a 43-48% drop in carbon emissions below 2005 levels, by 2035. 

In Australia, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has so far invested A$11.7b in climate tech since 2013. In June the Government said it will receive a further A$20b for its Rewiring the Nation programme, Household Energy Upgrade Fund and a new technology fund. In March the Government also legislated for the A$15b National Reconstruction Fund, part of which is focussed on renewal tech. 

China, which is the world’s largest emitter and which has a more modest goal of peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, may outperform. An assessment by Climate Action Tracker shows the country is set to significantly overachieve the targets it promised internationally for 2030, with emissions peaking by 2025. “This means that China could increase the ambition of its targets, even without changing the path of its emissions this decade.”

  1.  Aussie Safeguard Mechanism gets teeth, starts to bite

The Australian Safeguard Mechanism has been given new teeth, requiring the largest 215 emitters to cut emissions 5% per year to 2030. Coming into force in July its targeted baselines will decline, predictably and gradually, on a trajectory consistent with achieving Australia’s emission reduction targets of 43% below 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050. It’s expected to have a chilling effect on investments in new coal and gas projects. Good!

  1. Climate financial disclosure is getting real

In a world first, the New Zealand Climate-related Disclosure and Other Matters Act came into effect this January, requiring around 200 large financial institutions to start making climate-related disclosures for years commencing in 2023. 

As Stuff reports “a slew of reports due to land between April and the end of 2024, will have to reveal publicly not only their impact on heating the planet, but the heating planet’s potential impacts on them – and how well-equipped they are to cope, or even thrive in different futures.”

In related activity, government and industry have collaborated to create climate scenarios as part of their Industry Transformation Plans. Tourism industry is one of the first, showing the devastating effect of 2 and 3 degree celsiusCelsius rise aagainst pre-industrial temperatures.

What you can measure you can manage – at last we’re starting to.

There’s a lot of good stuff going on in climate action. It needs to be sooner, bigger and politically expedited. Let’s keep the accelerator down.