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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison walks in front of Number 10 Downing Street on June 15, 2021. (Photo: Tim Hammond/No 10 Downing Street)

'A Political Scam, Not a Serious Plan': Groups Blast Australia Climate Pledge

"If Morrison expects to front up to COP 26 with this sorry excuse for a net-zero emissions target and no increase in formal ambition on Australia's 2030 target, he'll be laughed out of the room."

Andrea Germanos

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government on Tuesday announced Australia's plan for net-zero emissions by 2050—a plan that includes no further ambition toward 2030 targets, relies on unproven carbon capture technology, and does not phase out fossil fuels.

“We need to slash emissions today, tomorrow, this year, and this decade—not in 2050."

“We need to slash emissions today, tomorrow, this year, and this decade—not in 2050," said 350 Australia CEO Lucy Manne in a statement. "This is the climate policy equivalent of showing up late to a party, refusing to bring what the host asked you to, and then trying to ruin the party for everyone."

Among the principles guiding the conservative government's plan, according to the document, are "technology not taxes" and to "expand choices not mandates."

In an op-ed shared on the government website, Morrison took a defiant stance, saying, "We won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia."

"We want our heavy industries, like mining, to stay open, remain competitive, and adapt," he added, "so they remain viable for as long as global demand allows."

Reuters, which noted that Australia is "one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal," reported that the government "will not legislate the [2050] goal and instead rely on consumers and companies driving emission reductions."

The plan—issued just days before the United Nations COP 26 climate summit begins in Scotland and less than a week after leaked documents revealed Australia is among a group of fossil fuel-producing nations seeking to water down a key U.N. climate report—came in for heavy criticism from groups like Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

"This is a political scam, not a serious plan," said the organization's CEO David Ritter, who likened the pledge to "effectively just another fig leaf for inaction."

"If Morrison expects to front up to COP 26 with this sorry excuse for a net-zero emissions target and no increase in formal ambition on Australia's 2030 target, he'll be laughed out of the room," said Ritter, and "Australia will face the economic and diplomatic consequences of his failure to act on climate change."

For Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, the plan amounts to "fraud" if it's not joined by an end to coal and gas extraction and a transition to clean energy.

“The world is gathering in Glasgow in only a few days to increase efforts and targets until 2030, the decisive decade according to President Biden," said Merzian. "The prime minister has missed the brief and is going to COP 26 with an empty net-zero by 2050 pledge with no immediate impact and every intention of expanding fossil fuel production."

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