From words to actions: COP27 focuses on actions to address climate change

From words to small actions  

The tide is slowly turning for the Australian Government, who are starting to make progress after years of inaction on climate change.  

Two weeks of climate talks at Cop27 in Egypt saw newly appointed Minister for Industry, Energy and Emission Reduction – Chris Bowen, begin to shift the dial on our reputation as climate change shirkers, to a “climate collaborator.”   

This increase in climate ambition was reflected in our ranking on the Climate Change Performance Index, where Australia rose to 55th this year – a notable improvement on last year where we finished dead last.  

Retail highlights from this year’s activities are below – with a full round up of industry measures at this link.   

Retail highlights from COP 27 

This years event was touted as the “implementation Cop”, with the goal to move beyond words and into action. Notably, the requirement to assist those nations devastated by extreme weather events at an ever-increasing pace was acknowledged by the Conference through the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund for developing economies. This Fund hopes to assist in the rescue and rebuild of both physical and social infrastructure following natural disasters.  

While we have to wait for next years Cop28 to establish the financial incentives of the Fund, we can celebrate that this is a positive step forward for humanity, and for Australian business. This Fund will provide a level supply chain security to our import and export markets as our climate continues to change, and overseas markets become increasingly precarious.  

The Fashion Industry, which accounts for a fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year and accounts for up to 10% of global carbon dioxide output, also made moves to move words into action.  

The Fashion Industry Target Consultation was established to identify and converge industry-aligned targets, in relation to five key areas: Respectful & Secure Work Environments, Better Wage Systems, Resource Stewardship, Smart Material Choices and Circular Systems. The Consultation will also seek to formulate specific, innovative targets for areas where they are not currently covered, such as criteria for purchasing practices and circular design, in an attempt to towards a net-positive fashion industry. The establishment of this Consultation is a vital and much needed step for the Fashion industry to achieve its decarbonisation targets.  

In another promising move for Australia, last week the government joined the High Ambition to End Plastic Pollution. This Coalition calls for binding global rules that would bring plastic use down to manageable levels and increase the use of recycled content. The Australian Government has pledged that 100% of all virgin plastics or recycled or reused by 2040.  

The joining of this Coalition is a positive step forward for the plastics landscape in Australia, as the retail sector desperately needs a consistent, national plan to guide the ongoing phase-out of unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics.  

Whilst this past month has seen great progress for Australia in terms of climate policy and action, there remains a lot of work to be done if we are to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees. Notably, our failure to make a strong commitment around the phase out of fossil fuels is a sad reminder of just how far we have to go.  

It is however, encouraging to see the dial finally move from words, to actions.  

For more ARA Sustainability resources, visit our ARA website – including our industry-first Retail Roadmap to Net Zero and information on how to join the UN backed Race to Zero. 

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