The modelling underpinning Scott Morrison’s strategy for a carbon neutral future cannot be published because the department tasked with the job has yet to finish the report.
The Prime Minister has been under pressure to release the modelling that shaped the net zero commitment he is set to take to a UN climate summit in Glasgow next week.
But officials from the Department of Science, Industry, Energy and Resources (DSIER) on Thursday revealed the report had not been finalised and work continued while Mr Morrison’s plan was deliberated in cabinet on Monday evening.
“We will make that material public within the next few weeks, and indeed, I can confirm that we are finalising the writing up of that work,” Deputy secretary Jo Evans told a Senate estimates hearing.
“You can appreciate that it’s quite a complex set of material, and as the plan was only finalised on Tuesday, we need to make sure we have written that technical work up.
“The actual modelling of course had been finalised at that point, but the write up of it, we just need to take a little bit of extra time.”
Ms Evans stressed the modelling work had been completed and the report needed additional time to ensure it was accessible to the public.
“We will publish it when we put it into a form that is suitable for putting to the public domain so that it’s understandable,” she said.
Asked what format the work was currently in, Ms Evans said: “Spreadsheets and finalised and technical reports that are designed for an audience that is more sophisticated in terms of how it will understand results.”
DSIER insisted the modelling would be released in the coming weeks in line with the promises made by Mr Morrison earlier in the week.
Asked about Ms Evans’ comments in question time, Mr Morrison stuck to his “technology, not taxes” lines.
“That document will be released in the next few weeks and it will be there, and they will be able to see it and they will be able to see that what it does through the plan that we are putting in place with technology, not taxes, with respecting people’s choices,” he said.
The nation’s chief economic forecasters on Wednesday told estimates they had provided limited advice on the impact of a net zero target but two staff had been seconded to DSIER to assist with its modelling.
Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy also conceded his department hadn’t undertaken any modelling on the economic costs of climate change in the “last few years”.
“I don’t know whether it is eight years – but we haven’t done it at least for the last few years,” he said.
Under Mr Morrison’s plan to reach net zero, more than $20bnwill be invested in low emissions technologies, including carbon capture and storage.
Mr Morrison also unveiled new projections, which if reached, could reduce Australia’s emissions by 30 to 35 per cent by 2030.