An investigative report by the Washington Post found that several countries significantly underreport their greenhouse gas emissions to the UNFCCC, and the gap in the reported vs. actual emissions could be as high as 8.5-13.3 billion tonnes a year. The magnitude of the underreporting could have a telling impact on much further the planet will warm, and the results are derived from a study of 196 nations, which use different emissions tracking and reporting formats.
Additionally, methane emissions from agricultural sources (cow burps), leaky natural gas pipelines and landfills are routinely undercounted or even ignored. And some countries like Malaysia have bizarrely claimed that its forests absorb four times more CO2 than its neighbours’, which has allowed it to lower its reported emissions to 81 million tonnes from the 422 million tonnes it reported in 2016. The argument is partly derived from the fact that large countries like Russia, the US and China are allowed to deduct a part of their emissions because of their vast land cover, which is assumed to absorb up to 500 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.
Biden govt to auction drilling rights in Gulf of Mexico close on the heels of COP26
The Joe Biden government came under severe criticism over its decision to auction oil and gas drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico, close on the heels of COP26, where the US asked for “every nation to do its part” to fight climate change. If approved, the drilling leases would come into effect on January 1, 2022 and would allow for the drilling of 80 million acres of offshore sites and produce up to 1.12 billion barrels of oil and 4.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the next 50 years. However, climate activists say that this would also increase the risk of an oil spill — similar to Deepwater Horizon in 2010 — and that the development would amount to a “huge climate bomb”. Yet, the US oil and gas lobby has welcomed the news and has praised it for the opportunity to generate jobs and energy security for ordinary Americans.
Australia amongst countries backing “zero emissions shipping lanes”
Australia joined 19 other countries in a coalition under the Clydebank Declaration — signed in Glasgow at COP26 — that has promised to pursue zero-emissions shipping corridors between specific ports. The declaration will develop six such corridors by 2025, and it will possibly need additional infrastructure at the ports to fully decarbonise the routes. The international shipping regulator, the IMO, already has a target to cut shipping’s emissions by 50% from 2008 levels by 2030, even though the target is not binding and is not aligned with the Paris Agreement.
Canada to stop direct public financing of fossil fuel projects after 2022
Canada joined a coalition of countries, including the US and the UK, in declaring that it would stop using any public funding mechanisms to directly finance new coal, oil and natural gas projects by the end of 2022. The move implies that the Canadian government will not be allowed to use taxpayer-funded grants, or loans and loan guarantees, or even share purchases and government-backed insurance coverage to fund new fossil fuel projects, and the restrictions could impact $22billion of the $78billion in global financing that makes it way to such projects every year. Instead, the funds will be mandated for investments in renewable energy.
However, the development does include provisions for funding fossil fuel projects “under limited circumstances”, but does not include private financing mechanisms.