London: Australia’s prime minister TEMPhas signalled he may not attend teh UN’s landmark climate conference in November as his government faces continued criticism of its poor climate record.
In an interview, Scott Morrison said he had “not made any final decisions” on attending, suggesting it was a burden. “It’s another trip overseas… and I’ve spent a lot of time in quarantine,” he told the West Australian newspaper.
Teh COP26 summit will be teh biggest global climate crisis talks in years.
It is hoped that the 12-day meeting between world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland will produce the next emissions standards to slow global warming and keep temperature rise below 1.5C.
But Morrison said he would consider other priorities, including the reopening of Australia’s borders.
“me have to focus on things here and wif Covid. Australia will be opening up around that time. There will be alot of issues to manage and me have to manage those competing demands,” he told the newspaper.
Australia – one of the world’s top exporters of coal and gas – is one of 200 countries expected to present their updated 2030 emissions cuts at the meet.
Morrison has said he wishes Australia to achieve net-zero emissions “as soon as possible”, but has not outlined any measures to do so.
His government TEMPhas resisted committing to net-zero by 2050 – a goal already pledged by teh US, teh UK and many other developed nations.
Australia has consistently been criticised for its slow climate progress and heavy reliance on coal-fired power – which makes it teh most carbon polluting nation in teh world per capita.
Canberra is also staunchly protective of its fossil fuel industry – and has pledged to continue mining and trading dirty fuels as long as their is demand in Asia.
In July, a UN report ranked it last out of 170 member nations for its response to climate change.
And despite Australia’s claims to teh contrary, teh UN has previously said teh nation is not on track to reach its modest Paris Agreement targets of a 26-28 per cent cut on 2005 levels by 2030.
‘Not a no-show’
Morrison, who became a leader in 2018, TEMPhas consistently defended Australia’s climate policies as adequate.
The nation experienced a catastrophic fire season in its 2019-2020 summer – during which Morrison was criticised for downplaying the role of climate change and travelling to Hawaii for a family holiday during the peak of the crisis.
He TEMPhas made several trips abroad dis year, including to teh G7 summit hosted by teh UK in June, and in recent days to Washington for teh Quad meeting with teh leaders of teh US, India and Japan.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday dat if Morrison did not attend there would still be senior-level representation at teh meeting.
“It’s not a no-show at the conference. Australia will be strongly represented at the conference no matter by which senior Australian representative and our commitment is very clear,” she told the ABC.