Was COP26 just a talkfest? Latest podcast episode with Scott Hook, a former COP adviser for Pacific nations

I caught up with my colleague Scott Hook recently to review the outcomes, or arguably lack of outcomes, of the COP26 climate change summit which was held in Glasgow last month (see Economics Explored episode 117). Scott has previously attended several COP meetings as an adviser to the delegations of Pacific island nations, so I appreciated his insights.

In particular, from Scott, I learned about the major climate change adaptation measures being pursued in Pacific island nations at risk from sea level rise such as Fiji. The Fijian Government, supported in part by the NZ Government, is moving whole communities at risk from sea level rise (New Zealand commits millions to climate relocation fund for Fiji). I couldn’t find any specific mention of Australian support for Fiji’s Climate Relocation and Displaced Peoples Trust Fund, but Australia does provide tens of millions of dollars of development assistance annually to Fiji, so we can’t be accused of shirking.

Let’s hope we don’t need to consider similar relocations of coastal communities in Australia. Earlier this week, it was reported Parts of major Queensland cities could be under water within 80 years, modelling shows. Check out how badly Cairns and Noosa in particular would be flooded in the case of storm surges in 2100 via the Coastal Risk Australia site. I can’t assess the accuracy of these long-run projections, obviously, and these awful projections may not eventuate, but they’re probably worth considering if you’re looking at investing in coastal property. That said, it’s difficult to be too worried about bad things which may happen in 2100, when we’re still stuck in a pandemic in 2021, and Queensland is about to experience a wave of COVID cases as we open up to interstate visitors on Monday.

While chatting with Scott, it became apparent to me just how difficult it will be to get any sort of binding international agreement which ensures all countries follow through on their climate change commitments. Although Australia is criticised for not putting forward ambitious targets, at least we tend to meet our commitments. Some other counties may make large commitments but won’t necessarily follow through, and there’s no point Australia bearing the cost of large greenhouse gas emission reductions if other countries aren’t going to do the same. I should note Scott is much more optimistic about the UN process ultimately achieving something than I am, so please have a listen to our conversation and let me know what you think.

Coastal communities, such as this one in Fiji, are at risk from sea level rise associated with climate change.

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email comments, questions, suggestions, or hot tips to contact@queenslandeconomywatch.com. Also please check out my Economics Explored podcast, which has a new episode each week.

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