LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 5: The new Lord Speaker, Lord Norman Fowler, speaks in the House of ... [+] Lords chamber during his first sitting in Parliament on September 5, 2016 in, London, England. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images)Getty Images
2022 became the year that legislation finally started to catch up with governments' net-zero pledges, and although government action remains a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to ensure actions match up with words, the drops are starting to add up to create unstoppable momentum towards net-zero. These 5 pieces of legislation enacted in 2022 are a sign that governments have recognised that future economic competitiveness and productivity is firmly tied to climatetech innovation and the transition to a climate positive economy. 1. US Inflation Reduction Act The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the most significant U.S. legislation for the climate to date, with $500 billion in tax breaks and new spending to boost clean energy, reduce cost of healthcare and increase tax revenue. The bill aims to bolster commercialisation of climatetech technologies such as carbon capture and storage and clean hydrogen. It also allocates funds for environmental justice priorities.
$400 billion of the IRA budget has been allocated to the transition to infrastructure fuelled by clean energy, clean electricity and transmission, clean transportation and electric-vehicle incentives are key priorities for federal funding.
- Quebec ban on oil and gas
In April 2022, Quebec became the first state in the world to ban oil and gas development on its territory. As one of the top five producers of oil and gas globally, this is a significant move for Canada, and a strong indicator of the country's commitment to transition its economy away from fossil fuels. This was a hard won victory for the climate following decades of climate action and campaigning by environmental organisations, students and citizens – but it would not have come to fruition without the government demonstrating the political will to transition away from fossil fuels. 3. European parliament passed the European Climate Law
The European Climate Law was passed by the European parliament; it sets a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2022 and a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The law aims to cement European leadership on the climate agenda and position the continent as the first to go fully carbon-neutral. It's also significant to throw legislative weight behind the European Green Deal - a deal with ambitious policy initiatives and laws on climate, biodiversity, energy, circular economy, forests, agriculture and pollution.
- Australia's Climate Change Bill
Until 2022, Australia, one of the world's biggest exporters of fossil-fuel, has been a climate-action laggard – with a transition away from coal a highly contested domestic issue. However, the country turned a corner when the Climate Change Bill was passed into law.
It's highly significant as the country's first piece of legislation to address carbon emissions in 11 years and is the first real step by the government to set Australia on the path towards net-zero. The Bill sets a greenhouse gas reduction target at a 43% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 and a net-zero target by 2050. It also requires the minister to prepare an annual climate change statement to improve transparency and accountability.
However, cementing the effectiveness of Australia's climate action legislation remains an upwards battle for the government, which is due to tackle the ‘safeguard mechanism' – a piece of legislation which has protected the nation's big industry from emission reduction targets. The Climate Change Bill does not include emissions-cutting legislation for the private sector – and unless this changes, Australia's net-zero ambitions don't have any real bite to back up the bark.
- India's Energy Conservation Bill
India passed an Energy Conservation Bill, which aims to mandate the nation's use of clean energy sources, it also introduces a domestic carbon market and takes aim at energy conservation measures in buildings.
With the domestic carbon market, India aims to ensure Indian investments in climate action are fed directly back to the nation's efforts to transition to clean energy.
The Bill is significant because it puts a cap on carbon emissions and consumption by industry and big consumers with a carbon credit mechanism that require consumers to meet a portion of their energy needs through renewable energy.
- China increased its renewable energy targets
China continued to double down on its renewable energy targets in 2022, issuing new targets for renewables to generate 3300 TWh in electricity from renewable energy by 2025 – this represents a 35% increase from its 2020 renewable targets.
To achieve its targets, renewable energy sources in China need to grow by 13% over the next three years and by 52% by 2030.
However, in 2021, China's coal industry produced its highest ever annual output of coal - which remains a key component of China's short to medium term energy strategy. The country did, however, stop its financing of coal to international governments in 2021 - it could result in the cancellation of 43 GW of coal projects across Asia and marks a significant change of direction given that China's global policy banks have financed coal projects since 2,000.