Australia defends climate targets after Biden 2050 net-zero pledge

Joe Biden

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday was again forced to defend his country’s climate targets after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the United States presidential election.

Biden has said his administration will re-join the Paris Climate Agreement and will pursue a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 – a commitment the Morrison government is yet to make.

“Australia will always set its policies based on Australia’s national interests,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

“The United States will make their decisions based on their interests and their capabilities and how their economy is structured, and we’ll do the same.”

The Paris Agreement, which Australia has signed on to, commits all members to achieve net zero emissions beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100, though an increasing number of countries has placed the target in the first half of the century.

Australia has been coming under increasing international pressure to set a specific long-term target after more than 70 countries, including its major trading partners Japan and South Korea, set their 2050 goal.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month also urged Morrison to take “bold action” after he too pledged to reach the “ambitious targets.”

Morrison said there “isn’t a one size fits all in terms of the commitments,” and defended the government’s stance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 26–28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham also backed the country’s stance on Monday, telling national broadcaster ABC that “you can set all manner of targets and the Paris Agreement.”

Australia would reach net zero “in the second half of the century,” he said.

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