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COP27 preview: Australia to be welcomed back into the fold

The Clean Energy Council will be right in the thick of the action at COP27, with both Chief Executive Kane Thornton and I attending to ensure Australia’s position as a clean energy superpower is recognised.

We will both be sending regular, on-the-ground updates and analysis from the front line over the next few weeks, so stay tuned to the news page of our website and our social media channels for the all the latest information from COP27.

Preview: Australia to be welcomed back into the fold as global pressure increases to up the ante on emissions reduction

In just a matter of days, international leaders, climate negotiators, and business and civil society representatives from 198 countries will descend upon Sharm El-Sheikh, the Egyptian resort city on the Red Sea, for another Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change.

And what a difference a year makes.

In stark contrast to the Glasgow meeting last November, where Australia was staring down international pressure to boost its 2030 emissions reduction target, you can expect Australia's delegation to enter the pavilion halls this year with renewed confidence and a warmer reception.

The Federal Government now boasts a stronger – albeit insufficient – emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030. In addition, it intends for Australia to be largely (82 per cent) powered by renewables by the end of the decade, has committed to a nation-building transmission investment fund, is in the midst of revamping the industrial emissions reduction framework, and has a real electric vehicle strategy on the drawing board.

The theme of the Egyptian Presidency of COP27 is 'implementation', and the Federal Government can show that it is neck-deep in implementing real change on emissions reduction.

The massive trade and investment opportunity that renewable energy and green commodities present will be front and centre in Australia's international engagement at COP27. The clean energy sector – led by the Clean Energy Council – will be playing a significant role within this year's delegation, promoting the big build underway across Australia, our emerging offshore wind opportunities, and the globally significant role we can play in green commodities.

Australia is eager to reposition itself as a collaborative, constructive and trustworthy partner on climate action and green trade. Its recent announcement of support for the Methane Pledge (to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030) – which the Coalition had previously declined to sign – is an important expression of this goodwill leading into the gathering.

And let's face it, a collaborative and ambitious Australia is just the sort of spirit needed in generous helpings at COP27. Last week, the UN Environment Program released its Emissions Gap Report, which found that there was "no credible pathway to 1.5°C", which is critical to limiting the worst impacts of climate change. Indeed, current emissions reduction pledges – if actually delivered – would see global temperatures rise by 2.5°C.

Pressure will therefore remain on all countries – including Australia – to up the ante on emissions reductions. But with it now appearing extremely likely that the world will significantly overshoot 1.5°C, developing regions – like Africa and our Pacific Island neighbours – are equally worried about how they will possibly afford to adapt to the impacts, and they want the developed countries who are responsible for the warming to pay up. It's a long-running standoff between developed and developing nations on which genuine progress may actually be made this year.