The Australian government has declared its 2030 emissions target is fixed — although it is committed to beating it — as COP26 concludes with a pact for countries to make a more ambitious 2030 target next year.
The Glasgow-based climate conference also finished with a successful push from nations including India and China to water down a draft resolution for coal to be “phased down” not “phased out”.
Australia did not disagree with the original wording in the draft document on coal.
COP26 president Alok Sharma apologised and said he was “deeply sorry” for the way the process unfolded with last-minute changes to the pact.
“I also understand the deep disappointment. But I think as you have noted it’s also vital that we protect this package,” a visibly emotional Sharma told the conference.
Sharma said overall the conference had kept the credibility of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees “alive” but the ambition’s “pulse is weak”.
“It will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action,” he said.
The pact calls for countries to return to the next United Nations climate change conference in Egypt next year with bigger ambitions for their 2030 targets.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s COP26 Pacific delegate, Shiva Gounden, said the deal offered the Pacific Islands a glimmer of hope but the world would need to honour its commitments.
“Pacific peoples on the climate frontline need stronger and more meaningful commitments. Our very survival as countries depends upon it, and world leaders must go even further at COP27,” she said.
“It’s disappointing that the reference to phasing out coal was weakened.”
Australian foreign minister Marise Payne and energy minister Angus Taylor said in a joint statement that “Australia’s 2030 target is fixed” of cutting emissions between 26% and 28% of 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
But Payne and Taylor highlighted the government was “committed to meeting and beating” the target and the latest emissions projections were that Australia would achieve up to a 35% reduction by 2030.
They said the government was committed to achieving its 2030 and 2050 targets through a “technology not taxes strategy”.
“The Morrison government will always stand up for and make decisions in Australia’s national interest, and we will do what’s right for rural and regional communities,” the ministers said.
They said they had worked closely with Pacific neighbours to raise the role of oceans in addressing climate change, to secure outcomes on climate financing and support for building climate resilience,
“Through the $104 million Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme, we are working with our regional partners to build the capability of their emissions accounting and reporting capabilities,” Payne and Taylor said.