'Stark fact': PM singles out China over damning climate report

The prime minster has singled out China, pointing the finger at the world's largest emissions polluter after a damning report on global warming.

The Australian government is under increasing pressure over its lack of ambition on climate change but Scott Morrison has sought to defend his government's stance, saying he "won't sign a blank cheque on behalf of Australians".

Instead, he pointed to China which is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire 38 members of the OECD.

“We cannot ignore the fact that the developing world accounts for two thirds of global emissions and those emissions are rising. That is a stark fact," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“It is also a clear fact that China's emissions account for more than the OECD combined."

Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have sought to defend their climate ambition in the face of mounting criticism. Source: AAP

Later in the press conference, he cited John Kerry who has taken up the mantle in the US as the special presidential envoy for climate action.

"He said if America reduced its emissions to zero, and China kept going where it was, it wouldn't make a lick of difference basically," Mr Morrison said.

The PM said developing countries should not be penalised for their use of fossil fuels despite the UN's latest report calling for the immediate and urgent end to their use.

Mr Morrison reiterated the government's mantra of seeking to use technology rather than taxes to combat climate change.

“The Australian approach is not to tax them, or deny them the employment and the jobs and the industries that they should have, just as we should have them here in this country,” he said.

The prime minister was also quick to denounce a group of protesters who defaced Parliament House on Tuesday to protest the government's stubborn lack of climate ambition.

A supplied image shows a woman with a burning pram during an Extinction Rebellion protest
A woman with a burning pram during an Extinction Rebellion protest outside Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday. Source: AAP

Australia talks technology while becoming a global laggard on climate

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change again sounded the alarm overnight on what society is doing to itself, galvanising calls for Australia, widely seen as a global laggard on emissions reduction, to detach itself from fossil fuels.

Mr Morrison has refused to commit Australia to a target of net zero emissions by 2050. More than 120 other governments have made such pledges including China, the European Union and the United States.

The Australian government has also refused to be more ambitious in reducing emissions by 2030, with some members of the government continuing to deny the need to act on the climate science.

Australia is projected to cut emissions 29 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, compared with its Paris Agreement target of between 26 and 28 per cent.

The Morrison government’s own projections show Australia is not on track to meet its 2030 emissions target.

Mr Morrison and the federal energy minister Angus Taylor have put stock in the still unproven technology of carbon capture and storage, as well as future investments in the development of "clean hydrogen".

"What is important is we ensure the technology breakthroughs that are necessary to transform the world over the next 10, 20, and 30 years are realised," Mr Morrison said.

"What I'm saying is that focusing on political solutions won't solve this problem. Focusing on technology solutions will," he added.

On Tuesday, Mr Taylor also pointed to Australia's world beating take-up of residential rooftop solar as proof Australia is doing its bit to move towards cleaner energy.

In July, the UN ranked Australia dead last out of 193 countries in its Sustainable Development Report, which assesses the progress of countries towards achieving sustainable energy goals.

Worst cases global temperature increases

The sixth IPCC assessment released on Monday night shows global warming of at least 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is anticipated within 20 years.

Climate scientists expect the 1.5 over mark to be reached in the early 2030s.

Globally, current commitments are not consistent with keeping global temperatures to 1.5 or even below 2 degrees.

The worst-case projection shows warming of between 3.3 and 5.7 degrees between 2081 and 2100, with a best estimate of about 4.4 degrees.

Climate protesters defaced Parliament House on Tuesday.
Climate protesters defaced Parliament House on Tuesday. Source: AAP

with AAP

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