In a major speech on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not make any new commitments on climate change, instead he will reiterate that Australia will try to get to net zero emissions “as soon as possible”. To date, he has not committed Australia to any emission reduction targets by 2050.
Morrison is due to speak at the PerthUSAsia Centre today, ahead of the G7 Summit in the UK later this week, and is expected to say “ambition alone won’t solve the problem of actually reducing emissions”. According to an advance copy of the speech, he will also say that Australia will resist Europe’s push to introduce carbon tariffs.
“It’s important that nation states be accountable for charting their own path to net zero based on their unique economic structures and energy sources,” Morrison is expected to say.
“Australia does not support setting sectoral targets or timeframes for decarbonising particular parts of our economy or setting false deadlines for phasing out specific energy sources.”
Morrison’s speech distances Australia from many of its international allies, including the UK, which has already asked other countries – including Australia – to lift interim emission targets to align with the Paris climate agreement. The Biden administration in the US has also said Australia needs to commit to more ambitious climate targets.
Morrison has already said that Australia will forge its own path towards net zero, and will not have it “determined by others”. To date, Morrison has not committed Australia to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Currently, the federal government says it is only committed to a 26 per cent to 28 per cent reduction of emissions, compared to 2005 levels by 2030. This target was set while Tony Abbott was Prime Minister.
“Our goal is to get [to net zero] as soon as possible, preferably by 2050, through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support, especially in our regions,” Morrison will say in his speech in Perth.
In his speech, Morrison is expected to acknowledge the rise of a new global economy in the face of climate change.
“A new global energy economy is rising with profound implications for Australia, as the world deals with climate change,” Morrison will say in his speech in Perth.
“A net zero energy economy is being crafted by governments, international agencies and financial markets alike. This is happening and we understand that.”
Morrison’s resistance to a net zero by 2050 commitment continues amid internal pressure in his party to do more, and as most Australians agree more should be done on climate change.
In May, a group of high school students won a landmark case in the federal court, where it was ruled that the federal Environment Minister has a duty of care to protect children and young people from harm caused by climate change. In a world first, the court accepted evidence brought by experts that carbon emissions released from mining and burning fossil fuels will contribute to wide-ranging harms to young Australians.
In the 2021 federal budget, announced last month, there was a notable absence of any significant funding to address climate change, and the government continues to push its “gas-led recovery” from the recession.