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PM seeks to mitigate climate criticism

Scott Morrison will jet off for global climate talks seeking to mitigate criticism Australia isn’t pulling its weight with a belated 2050 net zero emissions target.

The prime minister leaves for a G20 summit in Rome on Thursday before heading to COP26 climate talks starting on Sunday.

Australia will bring much weaker climate commitments relative to comparable nations and has ruled out formally increasing its 2030 emissions reduction target.

Mr Morrison rejected criticism about the coalition’s net zero path, nearly a third of which relies on “further technology breakthroughs” and “global technology trends”.

“The coalition, in the announcement of our plan to reach net zero by 2050, has put in place a practical and a responsible approach,” he told parliament on Wednesday.

The prime minister brandished his smartphone as he defended pinning hopes on undiscovered and unproven technologies to achieve a chunk of emissions reduction.

“An iPhone would never have been existing if it was based on the assumptions of the leader of the opposition,’ he said.

Mr Morrison added the modelling underpinning the coalition’s emissions assumptions would be released in coming weeks.

The full details of the last-minute deal struck with the Nationals in exchange for its support for a net zero target remain unclear.

One element of the agreement was the return of Resources Minister Keith Pitt, who had been a vocal net zero critic, to cabinet.

“The government has put forward a policy position. I support their position as you would expect,” he told the ABC.

When asked whether Australians were entitled to see full details of the Nationals deal, Mr Pitt replied “those are arrangements between the leaders of the two political parties”.

Cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie said she accepted the science of climate change and thought technology was the solution, but respected her colleagues who did not.

“But I do not I accept that we need to harm our standard of living or our way of life in order to get to a lower emissions economy or destroy our regional export industries to achieve it,” she said.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles labelled the government’s climate plan as “nothing more than smoke and mirrors”.

“He (Mr Morrison) has made a statement but there are no plans, no detail, no commitments because, ultimately, his heart is not in this,” Mr Marles told the ABC.

The opposition is waiting until after Glasgow to release its own 2030 emissions reduction target.

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