A key adviser to the British government has issued a brutal assessment of Australia’s policies, calling them “very sad”.
A key UK government adviser has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of showing “no indication” of delivering on his 2050 net zero climate plan.
The UK’s Climate Change Committee chair, Lord Deben, shared his brutal assessment of Australia’s climate change commitment with the BBC on Saturday.
He claimed the net zero plan was “squeezed out of” Mr Morrison, saying there was “no indication” he would stick to the commitment.
“I’m afraid that if you look at Scott Morrison from Australia, we’ve squeezed out of him a commitment to net zero in 2050 but there’s no indication at the moment that he’s got a proper program for that,” he said.
Lord Deben said it was “very sad” that a “great country like Australia should change our climate”.
“Because that’s what happens. If you allow people to keep on doing this, it’s our climate as well as theirs that’s changed.”
Mr Morrison arrived in Rome over the weekend for the G20 summit. Lord Deben’s comments about Australia’s climate commitment come as the PM was due to arrive in Scotland ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
Lord Deben told the BBC that “in general” the majority of world leaders were beginning to recognise the threat climate change poses, adding he would “love to see Australia rejoin the pack”.
This is not the first time he has condemned Australia for its climate stance. Lord Deben previously labelled Tony Abbott’s 2030 target “pathetic”.
“Global warming won’t wait for Mr Abbott and his government. Mr Abbott’s hubris is staggering,” he said at the time.
In a statement prior to his departure to Rome, Mr Morrison said the pandemic and climate would be at the top of his agenda during his time overseas.
“These important international meetings come as the world has reached a critical point in our health response and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and our collective effort to address the challenges of climate change,” Mr Morrison said.
“COP26 will be crucial in the global effort to address the challenges of climate change.
“I look forward to supporting (British) Prime Minister (Boris) Johnson, as host of COP26, to achieve our Paris Agreement objectives and collaborate to collectively deliver net zero emissions by 2050.”
Australia urged to do more on climate
On Tuesday, Mr Morrison and Minister for Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor released a plan to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to a net zero level by 2050 by using new technologies.
In addition, updated modelling suggests Australia is on track to reduce emissions by up to 35 per cent by 2030, up on the 26-28 per cent projection made in 2015.
However, the plan has been heavily criticised, with national and international groups saying a stronger 2030 target and more ambitious climate action are needed.
In a letter to Mr Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt, 52 health and medical groups called for the government to legislate a 75 per cent reduction by 2030 in order to reach net zero by 2035.
Both Mr Morrison and Mr Taylor have repeatedly ruled out setting a more ambitious 2030 target.
It follows on from an MJA-Lancet Countdown report that issued a “serious health warning” for Australians from heat, bushfires, air pollution and more and emphasised the disproportionate health burden borne by Indigenous Australians.
Climate and Health Alliance executive director Fiona Armstrong said the Australian government’s lack of urgent action was “wrong” and did not do enough to address the health emergency brought about by climate change.
“Australia’s action to address the health impacts of climate change has been described as ‘catastrophic for human health’,” she said.
“It is wrong and unnecessary to endanger Australian lives in this way.”
In a recent interview with Insiders host David Speers, Mr Taylor reiterated that the Morrison government had “absolutely no plan” to change its 2030 emissions target.
“Well, we went to the last election and we said to the Australian people we had a 26-28 per cent target. Labor had a 45 per cent target without a plan as to how they were going to achieve it, and the Australian people put us back into government for another term,” Mr Taylor said.
He said the Australian voters made it “very clear” that was the policy they wanted.
“This is our policy. We’ve got absolutely no plan to change it, none whatsoever,” he said.
“The Australian people told us two and a half years ago what they thought the right answer was and we are sticking with it. The good news is we are going to meet and beat that target.
“We will reach up to 35 per cent reduction in emissions. We have improved on our position versus 2030 as we did with 2020, every year, and our goal is always to meet and beat our targets, but we set a target and we will keep faith with the Australian people on that target.”