Energy Minister Angus Taylor appeared unable to name a single new emissions reduction policy contained in the Morrison government’s climate change “plan” during an interview on Tuesday night.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier announced Australia would commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, following much internal division within the Coalition caused by disagreement between the Liberals and the Nationals over the target.
Under the plan announced by Mr Morrison, more than $20bn will be invested in “low emissions technologies”, including carbon capture and storage, by 2030.
But the plan will not be enshrined in law and its specifics, including the modelling which supports it, will not be released until a later, unspecified date.
Mr Morrison said projections show Australia is on track to cut emissions by 30 to 35 per cent by 2030, but the formal target of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels would remain.
ABC7.30 host Leigh Sales grilled Mr Taylor over the plan, asking him: “How is this an ambitious plan when none of the policies in it are new, when it’s not legislated and when there are no short-term benchmarks against which to measure progress?”
Mr Taylor told the ABC the government had been developing policies to support the plan for several years and rattled off a list, including investments in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the “technology investment road map” it released last September.
“That plan today made the point that those policies will get us within range of net zero by 2050,” Mr Taylor said, appearing to concede there are no new policies involved.
The Prime Minister is days away from flying to Glasgow for the crucial United Nations COP26 climate change summit, where he is expected to unveil Australia’s plan for net zero after facing significant international pressure.
Ms Sales asked Mr Taylor if Mr Morrison would be going to the conference to say Australia is “not going to do anything extra or new”.
Mr Taylor replied: “We have been doing much new in recent times”.
He said Australia could achieve net zero by investing in a technology portfolio that would curtail emissions while strengthening traditional industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and resources.
In the Morrison government’s plan, 15 per cent of the planned emission reduction is earmarked for technologies that haven’t been invented yet.