Australia’s decade long tug-of-war on climate is “suicidal”, according to one of the key minds behind the Paris Agreement.
Former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres’ comments come as the minister responsible for reducing Australia’s carbon emissions shook his head at calls to declare an environmental emergency.
Ms Figueres agrees with industry sentiment that it’s difficult to make investment decisions with frequently changing federal policy.
“I have been pretty vocal about my frustration for so many years of a completely unstable, volatile, unpredictable stand and position on climate change in Australia,” she told a Carbon Market Institute event.
“The climate wars that have been going on in Australia for over a decade now are just, honestly, they are such a suicidal situation because Australia – of all countries in the world – Australia holds such promise with renewable energies.
“It is just a total lack of integrity, not something that does Australia proud.”
Meanwhile, the Morrison government used its majority in the lower house to swat off a Greens vote to declare a climate and environmental emergency.
Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor says the government is already taking strong action, pointing to figures showing the nation’s emissions are 16.6 per cent below 2005 levels.
Australia’s initial Paris Agreement target is to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
Governments have been urged to aim higher in their Paris Agreement targets, as scientists say existing settings aren’t enough to stave off climate destruction.
Mr Taylor outlined a handful of emerging technologies he wants the nation to focus on to reduce emissions.
“We’ve laid our plans our clearly and there’s no taxes in that,” he said.
Mr Taylor boasted his government scrapped the carbon tax, which helped reduce emissions.
The coalition moved instead to a policy that still bills taxpayers by paying companies to reduce emissions.
But a carbon price is expected to be front and centre of China’s net zero emissions plan, increasing pressure on Australia to set a date for the climate goal.
Chief energy modeller of the International Energy Agency Laura Cozzi says the group has had meetings with Chinese ministers about its plans to achieve net zero by 2060.
Carbon pricing will be key.
“If this was to be put in place, this is clearly going to create a huge new carbon market in the world,” Ms Cozzi told energy industry leaders.
Pressure is increasing on the government to set a time frame for reaching net zero emissions, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagging an announcement on the issue by year’s end.