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PM rebuffs 2030 climate target pressure

Scott Morrison will use COP26 climate talks to rebuff international demands for Australia to formally strengthen its 2030 emissions target after belatedly agreeing to net zero by 2050.

While new projections show Australia cutting emissions by up to 35 per cent on 2005 levels by the end of the decade, it won’t be formalised as a new target.

Australia’s 2050 net-zero emissions target comes five days out from COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, where mid-term commitments will be a strong focus.

“There’ll be a lot of words in Glasgow, but I’ll be able to point to the actions of Australia and achievements of Australia,” the prime minister said.

The UK has committed to cutting emissions 68 per cent below 1990 levels this decade and the European Union 55 per cent.

The US has set a 2030 target of a 50 to 52 per cent reduction on 2005 levels.

Australia had been one of the last countries holding out on a formal commitment to net zero by 2050, alongside China, Singapore, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson labelled Australia’s 2050 target “heroic” for a country so reliant on fossil fuels.

Emissions reductions to date and existing policies from the coalition’s previously released “technology roadmap” are expected to account for 60 per cent of cuts by 2050.

Another 30 per cent relies on “further technology breakthroughs” and “global technology trends”. The remaining gap would be closed by domestic and international carbon offsets.

The plan resulting from drawn out negotiations with the Nationals has been criticised as vague and lacking the ambition needed to tackle Australia’s contribution to climate change.

Carbon Market Institute chief executive John Connor thinks Australia’s refusal to increase its 2030 target will handicap its negotiators at Glasgow.

“It’s important to indicate that we will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but we still need a lot more detail on the plan,” he said.

“These projections will be met in a rather bemused way, I think, by the international community where the currency is the nationally determined contributions that are … increasingly part of international trade networks.”

Business groups want to see the modelling behind the government’s plan, which Mr Morrison said would be released “eventually”.

Environment groups including Greenpeace and the Australian Conservation Foundation don’t think enough is being done to cut emissions by 2030.

“The cost of too little action this decade far outweighs the cost of transitioning to a low pollution economy,” ACF chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor would wait to see what came out of the Glasgow summit, which Mr Morrison will attend next week, before finalising its climate policy.

But he said targets should be legislated if they were to be taken seriously.

“There is net zero modelling, net zero legislation and net zero unity,” he said.

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