Prime Minister Scott Morrison appears to be testing the waters of a zero net emissions target by 2050, saying the climate goal will be “won” by Australia’s mining and energy sectors, factories and industry.
However, the PM appeared to have a dig at “inner-city” people who have long pushed for ambitious emissions targets, stating, “we will not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities”.
Days before he’s due to join US President Joe Biden’s virtual greenhouse gas summit, Mr Morrison said Australia’s energy mix would need to change over the next 30 years.
He said Australia would chart its “own course” and use “capitalism” rather than “taxes”, saying “the key to meeting our climate change ambitions is the commercialisation of low emissions technology”.
Factories will lead the way
In a speech to business leaders in Sydney on Monday night, Mr Morrison said net zero would be “won” by the energy, industrial, agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors and used the examples of BHP, Andrew Forrest and AGL’s efforts to reduce emissions.
“It will be won in places like the Pilbara, the Hunter, Gladstone, Portland, Whyalla, Bell Bay and the Riverina,” he said.
“In the factories of our regional towns and outer suburbs. In the labs of our best research institutes and scientists.”
“This is where the road to net zero is being paved in Australia.”
A net zero target is a divisive issue in the federal Coalition and Mr Morrison has been slow to consider climate goals to avoid infighting.
Mr Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit.
The US and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.
Albanese touts clean energy
In his own speech later on Tuesday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese will link a cleaner future to more jobs for Australians.
“It is time to look at the other side of the coin – the huge potential for clean energy to create hundreds of thousands of secure, well-paid jobs,” Mr Albanese will say.
“I am not just talking about jobs for people mining lithium, copper and nickel or those who will transform those materials into batteries.”
Mr Albanese will say Australia cannot afford “further drift and time-wasting” and should transition to renewable energy where there is “huge potential” to create hundreds of thousands of secure, well-paid jobs.
“I’m talking about a revolution in jobs growth right across the Australian economy based on one inescapable fact – renewable energy is not only clean, but cheap, and getting cheaper,” he will say.
China and the US agree
Meanwhile, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, China and the US, have agreed to co-operate to curb climate change, just days before Mr Biden’s virtual summit of world leaders.
The two countries “are committed to co-operating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” the statement said.
The agreement was reached by US special envoy for climate John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua during two days of talks in Shanghai last week, according to a joint statement.
China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, followed by the US.
The two countries pump out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet’s atmosphere.
Their co-operation is key to the success of global efforts to curb climate change. But frayed ties over human rights, trade and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea have threatened to undermine such efforts.
Noting that China was the world’s biggest coal user, Mr Kerry said he and Chinese officials had a lot of discussions about accelerating a global energy transition.
“I have never shied away from expressing our views shared by many, many people that it is imperative to reduce coal, everywhere,” he said.
Mr Biden, who has said that fighting global warming is among his highest priorities, had the US rejoin the historic 2015 Paris climate accord in the first hours of his presidency, undoing the US withdrawal ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump.