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European leaders call out PM for lack of action on climate amid COP26

The UK’s top climate adviser has blasted Australia as “a great disappointment” on climate change amid the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Three months after a damning United Nations report predicted continued reduction in rainfall for the Great Southern “under all future circumstances”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s global climate pitch at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow was met with scepticism by many.

While the Federal Government committed to reaching net zero by 2050, it did not sign up to commitments to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent this decade and phase out coal power, leaving many wondering how Australia would reach this target.

UK Climate Change Committee chairman Lord Deben said it was “a great disappointment to the rest of the world” for Australia to be so behind on climate issues.

“When Scott Morrison tried to explain what he was going to do between now and 2030, it was just a whole series of words,” Lord Deben told ABC radio.

You cannot go forward without signing up to eliminating coal.

“Already, the British-Australian trade deal is under huge pressure in this country because we don’t see why we should import things from Australia unless Australia meets the same standards.”

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives for the Cop26 summit.
Camera IconAustralia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives for the Cop26 summit. Credit: PA, Phil Noble

While Mr Morrison declared Australia was “ahead of the pack” in reducing carbon emissions by 35 per cent by 2030, French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault warned Australia against “hollow and empty” climate rhetoric.

Mr Thebault said Australia could pull its weight by committing to cutting emissions by at least 45 per cent this decade, labelling it “a slight effort above the 35 per cent (projection)”.

“Australia could embark immediately on the necessary transformation of its economy with concrete measures to boost innovation and entrepreneurship,” Mr Thebault told the National Press Club in Canberra last week.

Before the summit, the Nationals extracted concessions in exchange for their support for a net zero by 2050 target, including returning Resources Minister Keith Pitt to Cabinet.

They refused to back a stronger 2030 emissions reduction target, leaving Australia to take updated projections of a cut between 30 and 35 per cent to Glasgow.

Key aspects of the Nationals’ agreement for net zero, including a future fund for regional and rural Australia, are yet to be detailed.

NSW, South Australia and the ACT have launched a net zero emissions policy forum to tackle climate hurdles with comparative governments around the world.

“Greenhouse gas emissions do not recognise borders, and to tackle climate change we need a globally collaborative approach and that is what this forum is about,” NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said.

There is only one day left at the Glasgow climate conference to cut deals in a bid to keep alive the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

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