Scott Morrison has told the COP26 conference that the Australian government considered technology the key to a decarbonised economy.
During his national statement address at the UN Climate Change Conference, the Australian prime minister said that through technology solutions to climate change, citizens in developing economies would not be denied ‘their livelihoods or the opportunity for a better quality of life’.
“Driving down the cost of technology and enabling it to be adopted at scale is at the core of the Australian way to reach our target of net-zero emissions by 2050 that we are committing to at this COP26,” Morrison said.
“Cleaner technology solutions must out-compete existing technologies if they are to be successful everywhere, and especially so in developing economies.”
The goal of better access to renewable energy laid at the heart of Australia’s national plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the PM said, to invest in the development of low-emissions technologies and promote their uptake. It was also the reason why Australia had set cost targets for clean hydrogen, low-cost solar, low-carbon steel and aluminium, energy storage, carbon capture and storage, as well as soil carbon, he added.
“We’re not starting from scratch — 90% of commercial solar cells globally use Australian technology,” Morrison said.
“Australia has the best rates of rooftop solar in the world. Our installation of renewables is eight times faster than the global rate and three times faster than some of the most advanced economies in Europe.”
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People’s Advocate Sir David Attenborough told the forum of world leaders that the climate emergency came down to a single number: the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, which ‘greatly determines global temperature’.
“Our burning of fossil fuels, our destruction of nature, our approach to industry, construction and farming are releasing carbon into the atmosphere at an unprecedented pace and scale. We are already in trouble, the stability we all depend on is breaking,” Attenborough said.
“We must halve carbon emissions this decade. We must recapture billions of tonnes of carbon from the air. We must fix our sights on keeping 1.5 degrees within reach,” he said.
Attenborough said that the world’s motivation for change should not be fear but hope, describing the need to recover the natural world as a ‘new industrial revolution’.
“In my lifetime, I have witnessed a terrible decline,” Attenborough said.
“In yours, you could, and should witness a wonderful recovery.”
During his own address, the Australian PM underscored recent technology partnerships Australia has announced, with Singapore, Germany, the UK, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea. Another deal with India was close to being finalised, he said.
“We are also working to establish high-integrity offsets internationally. Working with our close friends and neighbours in the Indo-pacific,” Morrison said.
Morrison also boasted that Australia was ‘ahead of the pack’ in terms of efforts to reduce carbon emissions, claiming that the nation has simultaneously been able to reside emissions by 20% since 2005 and also grow the economy by 45%. This proved that economic growth was not at odds with emissions reduction, he said.
“By 2030 our nationally determined contribution here at COP26 notes that our emissions in Australia will fall by 35% by 2030, far exceeding our Paris commitment. Australia meets and beats on its commitments,” Morrison said.
The PM also used the opportunity to announce that Australia would double its initial climate finance commitment for nations in the Pacific and Southeast Asia to $2 billion to be spent over five years. Morrison had earlier that day announced $500 million to go towards aid programs to ensure communities in the region were resilient to the effects of climate change, including water and food security.
According to climate activist group Avaaz, Australia’s pledge does not go nearly far enough, arguing the developed nation should stump up at least $3.4 billion yearly for its share of the annual climate fund.
This article was first published by The Mandarin.