Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech to the United Nations in which he boasted about Australia’s climate policies has been picked apart by leading environmental scientists.
Speaking to world leaders in New York, Mr Morrison said Australia was on track to meet its emissions reduction targets and that it was unlikely he would update them despite this being a requirement by the Paris agreement’s five-yearly review process.
He also accused Australian and international media outlets for “misrepresenting” the country’s climate change record.
But the Climate Council, an independent non-profit organisation aimed at providing accurate climate change information to the Australian public, has blasted Mr Morrison’s speech as “colossal bullsh-t”.
So what did our prime minister say? And which of his statements have outraged environmental experts?
“Australia is taking real action on climate change and we are getting real results,” Mr Morrison said in his speech.
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said Mr Morrison’s claims that Australia was doing enough to combat global warming was “colossal bullsh-t”, and that to suggest otherwise was “ludicrous and dangerous”.
“Over the winter we saw bushfires burning across Australia, while the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic were on fire,” Ms McKenzie said.
“A major new report shows that suburbs in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne could experience serious sea level disasters every year on our current trajectory.”
Australia’s Paris target is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
This is one of the weakest targets among developed countries, says the Climate Council.
Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy agreed, saying we needed to “triple our 2030 targets if we are to have a safe future”.
“We need to triple our country’s commitments if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees,” Ms O’Shanassy told The New Daily.
“The science is very clear that Australia’s targets are not enough.”
Australia’s emissions have risen every year for the past five years across almost every sector of the economy.
Mr Morrison also claimed that “by 2020, Australia will have overachieved on our Kyoto commitments, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 367 million tonnes more than required to meet our 2020 Kyoto target.”
But the Climate Council says Australia’s Kyoto targets were among the weakest in the world, and that the government’s data proves our emissions are actually increasing.
“Australia is responsible for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australia is doing our bit on climate change and we reject any suggestion to the contrary.”
Australia is the 17th largest polluter in the world, ahead of 175 countries.
Ms O’Shanassy said our coal and gas export industry made us the third largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world behind Russia and Saudi Arabia.
She said the government’s support of the coal industry, including backing the controversial Adani coal mine in Queensland, was “negligent” given the need to phase out coal globally by 2050.
“What our prime minister does is pit climate action versus jobs, and labels anyone who speaks up for a safe climate future as a radical fringe dweller – including the 300,000 young people who rallied at the Climate Strike,” Ms O’Shanassy said.
“It’s offensive to say ‘kids you should just be in school learning’ and pat them on the head dismissively when your support of coal will risk the lives of these young people.”