Morrison defiant ahead of climate summit

·2-min read

Scott Morrison is defiant about Australia's achievements on climate change as he prepares to speak at a US summit aimed at bolstering global action.

The prime minister has this week announced more than $1 billion for initiatives to lower emissions but has not announced more ambitious emissions reduction goals for 2030 or committed to net zero by 2050.

"'When' is not the question anymore. 'How' is the question," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

Hours before speaking at the summit alongside other world leaders, he accused other nations of not meeting their goals or being transparent on emissions levels.

"Many countries make commitments but none of them can claim the same record of achievement that Australia consistently has," Mr Morrison said.

He also boasted about meeting the Kyoto agreement targets, which allowed Australia to increase emissions instead of decreasing them.

President Joe Biden has convened the summit and is expected to announce a new target of halving US emissions by 2030 on 2005 levels.

Australia currently has a 2030 target reducing 2005 level emissions by 26 to 28 per cent.

The Dalai Lama and 100 other Nobel Prize laureates have inked a letter to world leaders urging them not to expand coal, oil and gas.

The Morrison government has plans afoot to expand the gas industry with taxpayer funds if the sector does not step in.

Ahead of the summit the EU has announced a goal of reducing emissions by 55 per cent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

The United Kingdom is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 from 1990 levels, extending its already ambitious carbon reduction targets.

The US, the EU and the UK are all also aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, a target the federal government has still not provided a solid commitment to.

Employer organisation Ai Group is urging the government to provide certainty by committing to net zero by 2050.

Farmers for Climate Action acting chief Fiona Davis is also calling on the government to step up its commitments, fearing agriculture will otherwise miss out on a climate-related economic boom.

"Regardless of any net-zero date the federal government sets, what we need to see is a clear plan for getting there that includes making deep and rapid emissions cuts this decade," she said.

Australia has long faced pressure from its Pacific neighbours to do more on climate.

Sydney-based Uniting Church minister Reverend Alimoni Taumoepeau is worried about rising temperatures in the city's west as well as his home, Tonga.

"Carefree island life is not as ubiquitous as it once was," he said.

"I've seen the mental health issues that come from literally losing the roof over your head, having to live in a tent for months - sometimes years - and being struck down by grief for the land you have lost."