Under-pressure Scott Morrison takes a swipe at New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern

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Under-pressure Scott Morrison takes a swipe at New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern as he savages her 2050 climate change target

  • Scott Morrison faces pressure to introduce a net-zero emissions target for 2050 
  • But he has refused, fearing that it may negatively impact the economy and jobs 
  • On Monday he criticised New Zealand’s climate change policy over methane 

Scott Morrison has attacked New Zealand‘s climate change policy as he faces growing pressure to set a net zero emissions target for Australia following Joe Biden‘s election as US President.

The Prime Minister pointed out that New Zealand’s 2050 net zero emissions target only refers to carbon and leaves out methane, a noxious greenhouse gas that traps 30 times as much heat as CO2.

‘There are many countries that have made commitments in this area, but they have also made those commitments with qualifications,’ he told reporters on Monday. 

‘For example, in New Zealand, their commitment to 2050 excludes methane. So it basically excludes agriculture and forestry, which are about half their emissions.’

In November last year New Zealand, led by Labour prime minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured on Friday), passed a law to become carbon neutral by 2050

In November last year New Zealand, led by Labour prime minister Jacinda Ardern, passed a law to become carbon neutral by 2050 in a bid to slow global warming – but only aimed to reduce methane emissions to between 24 and 47 per cent of 2017 levels by 2050.

Methane emissions from animals such as sheep and cattle make up about a third of the country’s total emissions, so treating them separately to carbon makes it easier for New Zealand to hit its goals without harming its huge farming sector.

Mr Morrison has refused to follow others including China, South Korea, Japan, the UK, New Zealand and the European Union in setting a net-zero carbon emissions target to combat global warming.

Former Vice President Biden’s election victory means the US – the world’s second largest polluter after China – will in January have a leader that also favours a net zero 2050 goal, leaving Australia even more isolated on the issue.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese on Monday piled pressure on Mr Morrison and said a future Labor government would adopt a net zero 2050 target. 

‘Australia is now isolated amongst our major trading partners,’ he said.

In a press conference on Monday morning, Mr Morrison said he would not bow to international pressure and that his government alone would decide Australia’s climate targets.

Joe Biden's election victory means the US - the world's second largest polluter after China - will in January have a leader that also favours a net zero 2050 goal, leaving Australia even more isolated on the issue. Pictured: President-elect Biden delivering his victory speech

Joe Biden's election victory means the US - the world's second largest polluter after China - will in January have a leader that also favours a net zero 2050 goal, leaving Australia even more isolated on the issue. Pictured: President-elect Biden delivering his victory speech

Joe Biden’s election victory means the US – the world’s second largest polluter after China – will in January have a leader that also favours a net zero 2050 goal, leaving Australia even more isolated on the issue. Pictured: President-elect Biden delivering his victory speech

‘Australia will always set its policies based on Australia’s interests,’ he said.

He said he wanted to achieve net zero emissions but feared a target could harm the economy and threaten thousands of jobs in fossil fuel industries.

‘I owe it to Australians that if we make such commitments, I have to be able to explain how we get there and what it would cost,’ he said.

‘Our goal is to achieve [net zero] as soon as you can, but we’ll do it on the basis of a technology roadmap.’ 

Mr Morrison slammed Labor for wanting to sign Australia up ‘unconditionally’ to a net-zero target without knowing the cost. 

Mr Albanese – who believes investment in renewable energy will create jobs and bring power bills down – said he would announce his costings closer to the next federal election, which is due in May 2022.  

Climate change is a prickly issue for Mr Morrison who would face a rebellion from Nationals and right-wing Liberals in his government if he were seen to be harming fossil fuel industries.

Independent MP Zali Stegall on Monday introduced a bill to Parliament which legislates setting a net zero emissions target by 2050. It is unlikely to pass the Liberal-National controlled House.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese (pictured spruiking his childcare policy last month) on Monday piled pressure on Mr Morrison and said a future Labor government would adopt a net zero 2050 target

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese (pictured spruiking his childcare policy last month) on Monday piled pressure on Mr Morrison and said a future Labor government would adopt a net zero 2050 target

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese (pictured spruiking his childcare policy last month) on Monday piled pressure on Mr Morrison and said a future Labor government would adopt a net zero 2050 target

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