CANBERRA, Australia – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that the country is committed to reducing emissions by 35% below 2005 levels by 2030, but he will not commit to such a goal at the UN climate conference in Scotland.
Morrison said his government would stick to it Australias current target for 2030 is to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels. The goals were adopted at the Paris climate conference in 2015 and are relatively modest compared to the ambitions of other rich countries.
“We will face it and we will beat it,” Morrison said, referring to the 2030 target.
“We will hit it with emission reductions we believe in up to 35% and we can even achieve better,” he added.
Australia had already reduced emissions by more than 20% from 2005 levels, he said.
Australia will commit to a net zero-emission target by 2050 at the Glasgow conference.
Morrison’s conservative liberal party-led government was barely elected in 2019 with a climate policy that opposed the 2050 net zero target adopted by the opposition center-left Labor Party.
Getting to the zero commitment took political quarrels from Morrison’s ruling party, including gaining the support of a rural-based junior coalition member – the National Party – with a number of concessions.
One of them was that resource minister Keith Pitt, who claims that Australia will continue to export coal for decades, was made the fifth prime minister. Morrison announced on Monday Pitt’s promotion.
The terms also include a government review every five years of the economic effects of the net zero target outside the big cities. The first assessment would be delivered in 2023.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham described the reviews as a “health check” of how different parts of Australia were affected by the transition to net zero.
“What it will do is focus the current government very clearly on where further investment may be needed to secure the transition,” Birmingham said.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, who will host the forthcoming Glasgow Summit, known as COP26, congratulated Australia on its net zero ambition.
“It was very difficult for Australia because Australia is very dependent on coal, on lots of coal-producing industries, and they have done a heroic thing,” Johnson said, referring to the 2050 commitment.
But Australia is likely to be criticized in Glasgow for its relatively weak 2030 target. The United States has committed to reductions of between 50% and 52% below 2005 levels. The UK has promised to reduce emissions by 68% below 1990 levels.
Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and liquefied natural gas. The nation is also one of the world’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases per capita due to its high dependence on coal – fired power.
COP26 will assess progress since the nations of the Paris Agreement in 2015 agreed to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The Glasgow summit is widely seen as the last chance to keep global warming to 1.5 C (2.7 F) above pre-industrial levels.