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Australia’s PM Scott Morrison ‘yet to decide’ whether to attend COP26 climate change summit

·2-min read
Scott Morrison says he has ‘not many any final decisions’ on attending the summit  (AP)
Scott Morrison says he has ‘not many any final decisions’ on attending the summit (AP)

Australia’s Prime Minister has suggested he may not attend the UN’s landmark COP26 climate change conference in November as he is fed up with having to quarantine after foreign trips.

Scott Morrison said he has “not many any final decisions” on attending the landmark summit of world leaders in Glasgow.

“It’s another trip overseas... and I’ve spent a lot of time in quarantine,” he told the West Australian newspaper.

Over 100 world leaders are expected to attend the conference, regarded by many to be the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control.

The aim is to speed up action towards the goals of the Paris climate agreement, securing global net zero by 2050 and keeping the average temperature rise to well below 2C this century.

Mr Morrison has been criticised for showing a lack of enthusiasm for tackling climate change.

Australia is the world’s top coal and a major gas exporter, and while nominally committed to the 2015 agreement it has resisted committing to net-zero by 2050, unlike the UK and the US.

In the interview, Mr Morrison said he had other priorities to consider, including the reopening of Australia’s borders.

“I have to focus on things here and with Covid. Australia will be opening up around that time. There will be a lot of issues to manage and I have to manage those competing demands,” he said.

In a separate interview aired over the weekend, Mr Morrison refused to commit to phasing out fossil fuels as the conference approaches.

He told broadcaster SBS he was not prepared to pull back any fossil fuel industries immediately.

“We don’t have to, because that change will take place over time,” he said. “We are working on the transition technologies and fuels and the ultimate technologies that will be there over the next 20, 30 years that can get us to net zero... This doesn’t happen overnight.”

His deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce - a climate change sceptic - dug in on Sunday against a net zero target.

“We look at it through the eyes of making sure there is not an unreasonable, or any loss of... regional jobs,” Mr Joyce, whose National party represents largely rural voters, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr Joyce said proceeds from mining and agriculture industries were vital for people in regional towns, from hairdressers to auto service providers.

“You’ve got to remember, fossil fuels are your nation’s largest export and if you take away your nation’s largest export, you’ve got to accept a lower standard of living,” he said.

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