Scott Morrison will speak at a Pacific islands climate event after shrugging off the significance of being left off the speakers list of another forum.
The prime minister could use the Pacific Islands Forum summit on Friday evening to announce Australia will no longer count past emissions reductions in order to calculate the Paris agreement target, of a 26 to 28 per cent drop on 2005 levels by 2030.
Pacific island nations have long called for Australia and New Zealand, as giants of the region, to do more on climate.
New Zealand has committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and Australia has not, but all states and territories are chasing the goal.
PIF’s secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor wants Australia to commit to phasing out fossil fuels and adopt the 2050 target.
She told ABC radio some smaller island nations were looking at technology to strengthen infrastructure and also eyeballing how China has increased the size of islands in disputed territory of the South China Sea.
Climate is a sensitive policy area within Mr Morrison’s coalition parties and he has beefed up his language on the perceived emissions credits.
“Those credits that have been earned have been earned by farmers investing in changes,” he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.
The forum comes days after the prime minister confirmed he would not speak at an online summit organised by the United Nations, the UK and France.
More than 70 nations are speaking at the event, including China, which has recently committed to net zero emissions by 2060.
Last week, Mr Morrison was looking forward to taking part and saw it as a chance to talk up Australia’s achievements.
Leaders were asked to come to the table with stronger commitments to combat climate change.
The prime minister said many international leaders aren’t speaking at the global climate summit, pointing directly to New Zealand.
“I wish them well for the summit, I’m sure it will be very nice,” he said.
Greenpeace Australia says it’s embarrassing the prime minister won’t be speaking at the UN summit.
“Scott Morrison has shown not one ounce of ambition to do anything to secure the future prosperity and security of Australia or the world in the face of the mounting climate threat,” CEO David Ritter said.
The latest projections show Australia will beat the Paris goal if the prices of low-emissions technology reach targets outlined by government.
Without those prices, emissions will be 22 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
At face value that misses the Paris target mark but the way progress on the goal is calculated uses an “emissions budget” approach and therefore projections show it will be met.