Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists technology will solve climate change after a major report warned the world is on track for 1.5 degree of warming by early next decade.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has again sounded the alarm on what society is doing to itself.
It’s galvanised calls for Australia, widely seen as a global laggard on emissions reduction, to detach itself from fossil fuels.
Bu Mr Morrison is sticking to the government’s “technology not taxes” mantra to address climate change.
“World history teaches one thing – technology changes everything. That is the game changer,” he said in Canberra on Tuesday.
The sixth IPCC assessment released on Monday night shows global warming of at least 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels is anticipated within 20 years.
Climate scientists expect 1.5 degrees to be reached in the early 2030s.
The worst-case projection shows warming of between 3.3-5.7 degrees between 2081 and 2100, with a best estimate of about 4.4 degrees.
Mr Morrison said it was a fair argument for developing countries to question why countries like Australia secured economic growth underpinned by fossil fuels.
“We are taking action that I think will actually make the difference,” he said.
“We need the technological changes that will transform the global energy economy of the world.”
Australian land areas have already warmed 1.4 degrees and worsening climate change will only intensify destructive fires, floods, droughts, cyclones and coral bleaching.
IPCC vice-chair and Australian National University climate change institute director Mark Howden warned the nation was heading into a bad place.
“We’re already in that zone where we’re experiencing extremes pretty much everywhere in Australia and pretty much every year,” he told ABC radio.
“What COVID has shown us is that hard and fast and smart action really benefits everyone in health terms, in economic terms.
“It’s exactly the same for climate change.”
The Morrison government has not committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 in response to the report and maintains this target is a preference.
Quizzed on that topic again on Tuesday, Mr Morrison again refused to commit.
“I won’t be signing a blank cheque on behalf of Australians to targets without plans,” he said.
“Blank cheque commitments you always end up paying for, and you always end up paying in higher taxes.”
Australia is projected to cut emissions 29 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, compared with its Paris Agreement target of between 26 and 28 per cent.
Mr Morrison has said previously that Australia will “preferably” reach net zero by 2050.
Globally, current commitments are not consistent with keeping global temperatures to 1.5 degrees or even below 2 degrees.
This requires immediate, rapid, drastic and sustained cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.