Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended his government’s response to climate change, repeating the line that ‘technology and not taxes’ would address the climate emergency.
“We cannot ignore the fact that the developing world accounts for two-thirds of global emissions and those emissions are rising. That is a stark fact,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.
“It’s not enough for the technology to work with a tax in an advanced economy. That doesn’t solve the problem … So what is important is we ensure the technology breakthroughs that are necessary to transform the world over the next 10, 20, and 30 years are realised.”
Morrison’s comments came following the release of the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that Australian land areas warmed by about 1.4°C over the course of a century.
In his response, the prime minister argued that Australia has cut its greenhouse gas emissions ‘more than so many advanced economies around the world’.
Morrison also reiterated his government’s line that Australia would ‘meet and beat’ its target to cut at least 26% of emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels. But, as The Mandarin’s sister publication Crikey has previously pointed out, this projection has been based solely on the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap.
Analysis published by the Australia Institute this week has also refuted the government’s claims about Australia’s progress in meeting climate targets. The report found that the Australian economy has ‘the most emissions intensive energy system among OECD countries’, with the exception of Poland.
“It is arguable that, based on the combination of the level of the non-fossil fuel share and the increase in that share from 2005 to 2019, Australia has performed worse than any of the other 23 countries at reducing its dependence on fossil fuel generation,” the report authored by the Australian National University’s Hugh Saddler said.
Morrison also refused to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, unlike many of his international counterparts.
He said Australia wouldn’t sign ‘a blank cheque on behalf of Australians to targets without plans’.
“Blank cheque commitments you always end up paying for, and you always end up paying in higher taxes,” he told the press conference.
Later in the day, in response to questions from Independent MP Helen Haines, Morrison said Australia ‘should achieve net zero as soon as possible and preferably by 2050’, but did not commit to the target.
The government will likely face increased pressure to commit to the target when it heads to the international climate conference in Glasgow in November.
Morrison has also taken aim at Extinction Rebellion protesters, who were arrested on Tuesday after spray-painting ‘duty of care’ outside of Parliament House, in response to the IPCC report findings.
The prime minister argued that vandalism wasn’t ‘the Australian way’.
“I don’t associate in any way, shape or form that foolishness with the good-hearted nature of Australians who care deeply about this issue, as I do. And my government does,” he said.
“Action will be taken against those who have committed those offences in our capital today, as they should.”