Scott Morrison is not among more than 60 world leaders who have signed a pledge committing to putting biodiversity, the climate, and the environment at the centre of COVID-19 recovery strategies.
Leaders from New Zealand, Germany, France, Canada and the UK are among the many that have signed onto the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, sending a united signal about the need to “step up global ambition for biodiversity”, acknowledging a state of “planetary emergency”.
According to a report from The Guardian, Australia was invited to sign the pledge, but declined because it required a commitment to a 10-point plan that doesn’t align with Australian policy.
Other countries who have not signed the pledge include China, the US, Brazil, and Russia.
“Australia has already committed to a net zero emissions target by the second half of the century as set out in the Paris agreement,” a spokesperson for Morrison said, according to The Guardian.
“We will not agree to other targets unless we can tell the Australian people what they will cost to achieve and how we will achieve it.”
The Australian government is instead focusing on a gas-led recovery from COVID-19, and its new technology roadmap.
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature commits world leaders to the development and implementation of an “ambitious and transformational post-2020 global biodiversity framework”, and promises the reduction of pollution, unsustainable fishing practices and plastic leakage in oceans. A transition to sustainable food systems and the raising of ambition in domestic climate policies is also part of the pledge.
“The interdependent crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change – driven in large part by unsustainable production and consumption – require urgent and immediate global action,” the pledge states.
“Biodiversity loss is both accelerated by climate change and at the same time exacerbates it, by debilitating nature’s ability to sequester or store carbon and to adapt to climate change impacts.”
When signing the pledge, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the world must build momentum on climate action.
“We must turn these words into action and use them to build momentum, to agree ambitious goals and binding targets,” he said.
“We must act now – right now. We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate. Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all.
“Extinction is forever – so our action must be immediate.”
The news of the Morrison government refusing to sign the global pledge comes as Sir David Attenborough, the world’s most famous naturalist, was interviewed on Australian television on Monday night.
In an interview with Leigh Sales on 7.30, he said we are “heading for disaster”.
“Humanity by and large has taken what it wants from the natural world and taken its own construct, its own surroundings, which we tend to think of our world and now we are realising that it isn’t our world, actually, we don’t control as much as we think we do, and we are heading for disaster,” he told Sales.
When asked why he thinks some world leaders have failed to act decisively on climate, Attenborough said: “Why it hasn‘t happened is because it’s not going to happen tomorrow. It’s going to happen the day after tomorrow.”
“We ourselves are concerned with what happens tomorrow, that what seems urgent and if someone says, ‘look a little farther down the road, oh, yes, we ought to be doing something about that’. Then, something else happens, and we need to deal with that tomorrow, and this problem has been delayed again, and yet again, and yet again, and if we deal with it tomorrow it will be too late.”