International pressure on the Morrison government over the climate crisis is expected to increase as the US and other major countries prepare to make new pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 years, experts say, and Australia will not be able to “fly under the radar”.
The US president, Joe Biden, has promised to unveil his plan to cut emissions by 2030 before he hosts a virtual summit of 40 national leaders, including Scott Morrison, on Thursday. New targets are also expected from Japan and Canada, while South Korean media has reported it is likely to announce a moratorium on overseas coal financing.
The US administration has promised an “ambitious” target to back up Biden’s pledge that he will work to galvanise global action ahead of a major UN climate conference in Glasgow in November. Analysts have suggested he is considering a target of at least a 40% cut compared with 2005 levels, and possibly up to 50%.
Biden has released a US$2tn infrastructure plan that he said would allow “transformational progress in our ability to tackle climate change” while his climate envoy, John Kerry, has in the past week visited China, Korea and India in a bid to lock in commitments before the summit. But Biden’s policy faces strong opposition from Republicans in Congress.
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The Biden administration is ready to challenge countries whose inaction on the climate crisis is setting the world back, including those that fail to cut their reliance on coal, the top American diplomat has warned.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, gave a speech in Maryland this morning to try to build momentum for countries to commit to stronger climate action. The move comes in the lead up to a virtual summit hosted by Joe Biden later this week. Scott Morrison is among a range of leaders set to join him.
Without naming any particular countries, Blinken said the US state department would “weave” the climate crisis into the fabric of everything it did:
Our diplomats will challenge the practices of countries whose action – or inaction – is setting the world back. When countries continue to rely on coal for a significant amount of their energy, or invest in new coal factories, or allow for massive deforestation, they will hear from the United States and our partners about how harmful these actions are.
Blinken added that the US would “seize every chance we get to raise these issues with our allies and partners and through multilateral institutions”.
There was no direct reference to Australia in the speech, but the Australian government has continued to promote the future of coal and members of the Nationals have been pushing for new coal-fired power plants.
With the US expected to unveil a new 2030 emission cut before the summit, Blinken said: “We need the whole world focused on taking action now and through this decade to promote the achievement of net zero global emissions by 2050.”
To date, the Australian government has resisted pressure to strengthen its target of a 26-28% cut in emissions by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels) – but argues the target “is a floor on Australia’s ambition”, meaning it hopes to do better. Morrison says the government’s policy is to reach net zero “as quickly as possible and preferably by 2050”.
Analysts say international pressure on the Morrison government over the climate crisis is expected to increase and Australia will not be able to “fly under the radar”.
You can read Adam Morton’s story here: