The Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison has made what some may consider to be contradictory statements regarding the country’s efforts to meet climate goals and its decarbonization.
Just ahead of the COP26 United Nations climate conference that is set to take place in November in Scotland, Morrison made it clear that he does not intend to curb the use of fossil fuels. And as the world’s leading coal exporter, this statement on Australia’s behalf has come under fire from environmentalists.
At the same time, however, Prime Minister Morrison has just concluded meeting with the leaders of Japan, India, and the United States in Washington, as part of the first face-to-face meeting of the ‘Quad’ alliance, during which meeting he recommitted to reaching the Paris Agreement stretch target of limiting the average global warming temperature to 1.5°C.
Only this commitment comes with the change that if net-zero emissions were aimed to be achieved by 2050, at the rate at which global temperatures are rising, net-zero emissions will need to be reached nearly a decade earlier.
At this time, the average temperature has already risen to almost 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. And it is expected to go above 1.5°C before 2040, according to data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Australia decarbonization part of Quad efforts
For this reason, ‘Quad’ members have acknowledged the urgent need to revamp measures aimed at curbing CO2 emissions and decarbornizing the world’s energy industry.
Specifically, Australia’s electricity system is heavily emission-intensive and would need to be decarbonized much earlier that that even – by 2035.
However, that would mean fully pulling away from coal as a source of energy, which Morisson is not prepared to do. In his words, the coal industry is vital for ‘people in regional towns’. Instead, the focus of decarbonization in Australia should be on carbon capture technology.