Emission fund, exports key to climate plan

Georgie Moore
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Exporting clean technology and domestic emissions reduction incentives are expected to form core pillars of the Morrison government’s pending plan to reach net zero by 2050.

Federal cabinet is expected on Wednesday to thrash out the final details of the plan, before it is presented to Nationals and Liberal partyroom meetings in coming days.

Having earlier hedged on attending the COP26 summit in Glasgow next month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is now expected to head there just after the G20 summit in Rome.

Mr Morrison had voiced concerns about having to quarantine after overseas travel.

On Tuesday, Energy Minister Angus Taylor talked up Australia’s opportunities to export clean hydrogen while touting biofuels, oil carbon sequestration, and controversial carbon capture and storage technology domestically.

“We can simultaneously drive a strong economy, productivity and emissions reduction at the same time,” he told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

“We have to remember, always, this is a global problem requiring a global solution.

“And that’s why providing a practical pathway not just for Australia but for the world is actually what we have to achieve here.”

Mr Taylor derided the “obsessive” focus on carbon pricing being adopted increasingly around the world and considered politically toxic by the coalition and Labor.

“We think that with deploying the right technology and bringing that technology to parity, that’s not something we have to do,” he said.

The minister touted existing measures under the Emissions Reduction Fund and its criticised crediting mechanism.

“That’s providing an important incentive for technologies that are approaching parity, that are close to working, to tip them over and get them really firing,” Mr Taylor said.

“There’s a lot of people who want to … impose costs on bad activity or bad industries. We’re not interested in that.”

He earlier batted away a call by the Business Council of Australia to tighten obligations on polluters through the ERF’s existing climate safeguard mechanism, labelling the proposal a carbon tax by stealth.

The carbon credit scheme has also copped criticism from environment groups for crediting abatement in land that was never going to be cleared.

The Nationals argue any climate plan needs to protect jobs – including those in farming, coal mining and coal-fired power – in rural and regional areas while also keeping a lid on power prices.

A Guardian Essential survey of 1097 people indicated 68 per cent of Australians supported a higher 2030 emissions reduction target and net zero by 2050.

Of people who indicated they were coalition voters, 65 per cent supported higher mid-term emissions targets. The figure rose to 77 per cent for Labor voters.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the government had failed to land a proper climate policy after eight years in office.

“This is about the future of our economy, the future of our planet, and the prime minister can’t even say whether he will turn up,” he said.

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