IPCC report: Morrison government unmoved despite new climate warning

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The Morrison government remains uncommitted to a firm net-zero emissions target for Australia, despite the world's climate scientists issuing a fresh warning about the cost of delayed action.

The release of the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change hasn't shifted the government's position, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor confirming on Monday night that the Coalition's goal remained to achieve net-zero emissions "as soon as possible, preferably by 2050".

Labor and the Greens have seized on the IPCC report to pressure the Morrison government to lift its climate action ambitions.

The Greens say the government must double or triple its 2030 targets, while Labor's climate spokesman Chris Bowen said the least it could do was match the opposition's commitment to net zero by 2050.

The expert panel's report, published on Monday, found that without "immediate, rapid and large-scale" cuts to record high levels of greenhouse gas emissions then hopes of containing global warming to 1.5 or even 2 degrees would be "beyond reach".

Global average temperatures could punch through the 1.5-degree threshold as early as the start of the 2030s, and warm to more than 5.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century unless carbon emissions are contained.

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The climate experts have dangled a carrot in front of policymakers, suggesting that average temperatures could be held under 1.5 degrees if they collectively pursue a low-emissions future.

In a statement following the report's release, Mr Taylor said overcoming the challenges posed by climate change was a "shared responsibility".

He said the government remained committed to cutting emissions through investment in technology, rather than imposing taxes.

"We are reducing emissions in a way that transforms industries through the power of technology, not through taxes that destroy them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create," he said.

"We are focused on getting low-emissions energy sources to commercial parity with high-emitting alternatives to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy while creating jobs and economic growth. This is a practical approach with global application."

Mr Bowen said the "bare minimum" the Morrison government could do was join states, industry, business and agricultural groups in targeting carbon neutrality by 2050.

"This [report] is yet more evidence of the costs of inaction, and it's past time the government stop spinning and start delivering for Australians," he said.

"The world's climate emergency is Australia's jobs opportunity, but we have a government patting itself on the back for a trajectory that falls short of Tony Abbott's targets, and no long-term plan for a changing economy."

Mr Bandt said the report showed the government's 2030 targets were a "death sentence" for Australia.

"Delay is the new denial, we can't wait until 2050, and anything less than 75% emissions cuts by 2030 means giving up on the 1.5 degree goal in the Paris Agreement," he said.

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This story 'A shared responsibility': Government unmoved on net zero despite IPCC warnings first appeared on The Canberra Times.