Scott Morrison has told participants at the virtual G20 summit that safeguarding the planet is an “ongoing, long-term and collective responsibility” and nations “must pursue economic models that support growth and sustainability”.
With the G20 communique released after the weekend talks noting signatories to the Paris agreement had agreed to communicate their long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies by 2020, Morrison set up the government’s technology roadmap as fulfilling that criterion.
Speaking at a side event at the G20 forum badged Safeguarding the Planet: Circular Carbon Economy Approach, Morrison said: “Australia is committed to practical pathways to reduce our emissions and meet our emissions reduction targets.”
“We’ve got great form on achieving our goals – what we’ve set, we’ve met and we’ve exceeded it,” the prime minister said.
Morrison said “this includes for the future unlocking promising low emissions technologies, technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, green steel and aluminium” – approaches identified in the government’s technology roadmap.
“These can make massive inroads into reducing emissions not just here in Australia, taking care of our commitments, but globally as well. Australia remains firmly committed to the Paris agreement and the commitments we have made.”
Morrison said he welcomed the G20’s acceptance that there were “many approaches” to achieving a sustainable recovery, and he said Australia had “a great story to tell” on oceans, including “ramping up our actions” to stop marine plastic pollution. He noted the government’s initiatives to protect the Great Barrier Reef had been “praised by the OECD”.
“As G20 members we all have important responsibilities to the present but also to the future, and we must all take action to safeguard our planet for our peoples and for the generations to come,” Morrison said.
While Morrison was underscoring the importance of safeguarding the planet, his energy minister, Angus Taylor, criticised the $32bn renewables roadmap outlined recently by the New South Wales government, according to a weekend media report.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Taylor was concerned the roadmap legislation before state parliament did not include a cap on costs that can be passed on to consumers, and could lead to the premature closure of ageing coal assets.
The communique released after the G20 meeting reiterated the Paris commitments for signatories, including the request to communicate or update their nationally determined contributions “reflecting their highest possible ambition”, in accordance with their obligations under the Paris agreement.
“In addition, these signatories reiterate the invitation to communicate by 2020 long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies,” the G20 communique said. It also reminded signatories that developed countries made a commitment to jointly mobilise US$100bn a year by 2020 “to address the needs of developing countries”.
Australia has faced sustained international pressure about its use of carryover credits to meet emissions reduction targets. That strategy was strongly opposed by dozens of countries at last year’s climate conference in Madrid, and experts said there was no legal basis for their use under the Paris agreement, given it had no relationship to the Kyoto protocol.
Last week, Morrison said the government might not use them, in a speech to the Business Council of Australia – one of many organisations that has championed Australia adopting a net zero emissions reduction target by 2050, and which has argued Australia, if possible, should meet its 2030 targets without relying on carryover credits.
Morrison told the BCA: “My ambition is that we will not need them and we are working to this as our goal, consistent with our record of over-delivering.”
Before Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the US presidential election – a development expected to increase diplomatic pressure on Australia to lift its emissions reduction ambitions – the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, also raised net zero in a private conversation with Morrison.
Morrison later declared the British government understood that Australia’s mid-century emissions reduction targets would not be set by London or by Europe, because Johnson embarked on his own act of “sovereignty” by withdrawing the UK from the European Union.
Morrison has faced pressure from business for months to adopt a net zero target by mid-century – pressure he has been resisting without ever ruling out adopting the commitment.