From the President | EIANZ acknowledges progress at COP26 and now calls for strong leadership

Published 24 November 2021

The Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand is the peak professional body for environmental practitioners in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Through its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, it sets a high standard for environmental practice.

Progress at COP26

The EIANZ acknowledges the progress made since the 2015 Paris Agreement and during this year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow. Specifically, we note during COP26 the:

  • focus on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees and the progressive adoption of both 2030 commitments and longer-term net zero emissions objectives
  • recognition of the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring nature through the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use
  • commitment of at least 105 countries to reduce methane emissions by 30% over 2020-30 and to transition to best available methodologies to quantify emissions
  • agreement to rules enabling international trade in offsets
  • progress in providing further assistance to poorer countries to meet their targets
  • commitment to revisit 2030 targets in 2022 – with an overall emissions reduction of 45% needed to limit warming to within 1.5 degrees.

Governments need to unite

As United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned, the key temperature goal in climate talks is “on life support”. Although nations are united on the objectives and are generally moving in the right direction, time is running out. Governments need to unite on a pathway towards meeting the objectives and accepting that:

  • now is the time to actively shift from carbon intensive processes (especially the use of coal) to carbon free alternatives
  • further ambition is needed in this decade and out to mid-century
  • the poor and disadvantaged must continue moving along the paths envisaged by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals
  • wealthier countries (including Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand) have an obligation to be proactive and lead strongly.

EIANZ calls for leadership and action

This decade needs to be one of action and transformation and we are disappointed our governments were unable to successfully negotiate further progress. Regarding the UNFCCC and COP process, the EIANZ calls for:

  • our members and environmental practitioners to use their specialist skills and influence to advocate for climate protection through their work and professional interactions
  • business and civil society to provide governments with the “air cover” necessary to make and take bold actions ahead of and during COP27. Business and civil society have the ability to demonstrate that decarbonisation is essential, urgent, profitable and will improve life for future generations
  • the governments of both Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia to promote global and domestic climate action.  This includes increasing support and financial budgets for Pacific countries to adapt and build climate partnerships
  • the Aotearoa New Zealand Government to address and support the transition of primary industries to regenerative and low carbon alternatives
  • the Australian Government to legislate policies and plans that will achieve a carbon budget for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees including at least a 45% emissions reduction by 2030. Australian people and businesses need the policy guide rails to make informed low emissions decisions.

The science on climate change is clear and a lot more needs to be done both to achieve and substantially beat the current pledges. There is an opportunity for Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand to play key roles as leaders in economic transformation and both countries have the resources and expertise to do this.

Vicki Brady FEIANZ CEnvP
EIANZ President