Former US vice-president's scathing message to Australia: 'HOLLOW'

·3-min read

A former US vice president has taken a swipe at Australia's goal of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050.

Al Gore was one of the keynote speakers at the virtual Climate Smart Engineering conference on Tuesday and he said he believes Australia needs to do more.

He warned Australia's refusal at the COP26 climate summit to boost its 2030 emissions target or agree to slash methane emissions put at risk the country's economic leadership.

"I was glad to see Australia commit to net zero by 2050. But I was disappointed that the 2030 target was not increased. I do think Australia should do more," he said.

"A 2050 pledge without a near-term pledge has very little meaning."

The Morrison government insisted Australia's 2030 emissions reduction target of a 26 to 28 per cent cut on 2005 levels was fixed.

Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States speaks at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.
US Vice President Al Gore said Australia's climate target has very little meaning. Source: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Australia took to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow a workaround in the form of an updated projection forecasting a 30 to 35 per cent fall in emissions this decade.

The coalition maintained coal production would remain a key economic pillar over coming decades even as its own modelling forecast a halving of its value by 2050.

The former Vice President also urged coal miners in Australia to be wary of "hollow words" in the promises made by politicians about emissions-heavy jobs in the future.

"Are they promising to protect them from the owners of the coal mines who are introducing automation at an unprecedented rate?" he questioned.

"Are they promising to protect them from the market forces that are driving the cost of electricity from renewable sources so much lower than the cost of electricity from burning coal - that they're going to somehow like King Canute tell the tides to stop?

"(Coal miners) deserve the all-out effort by governments at every level to provide new opportunities that are at least as good as the opportunities in the jobs of the past."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen during a visit to the Baker and Proven factory in St Marys, Sydney, Monday, November, 15, 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes Australia's coal industry will thrive for decades. Source: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he believed people in the coal industry would be working in it "for decades to come".

Mr Morrison said there would be a transition over a long period of time, and would not apologise for standing up for Australia's security or economic interests.

His comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Glasgow agreement to phase down the use of coal power was a "death knell".

Instead of coal, Mr Gore encouraged leaders to see the potential in renewables, like wind and solar.

"Others who look to the future, think immediately of sunshine and wind. And those resources, Australia has in more abundance than any other nation on Earth," he said.

Australia was ranked last in the world for climate policies, again, in a report which analysed nations' commitment to tackling the climate crisis.

With AAP

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