Australia To Stand Out As A Climate Laggard

As Bloomberg Green recently reported, “as the leader of one of the few developed nations yet to commit to net-zero emissions, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has just become even more isolated.

Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election means the U.S. will join a growing list of nations making the pledge, including some of Australia’s biggest customers of fossil-fuel exports such as Japan, China and South Korea.”

Despite Australia’s record destructive wildfires, PM Morrison had a nonchalant attitude toward their root causes and resisted public pressure to act on climate change. And now that Morrison won’t commit to achieving net-zero climate emissions by 2050, Australia will be branded as a standout climate laggard.

Why This Matters: President Trump has given cover to other world leaders who also dismiss science and blatantly cozy up to fossil fuel industries. But when his term ends, and a new era of climate progress begins and the United States can begin to use its foreign policy to push nations to make more stringent climate commitments.

Australia, for its part, is among the top per-capita carbon polluters in the developed world and could be left with few allies if it remains resistant to climate action.

As Howard Bamsey, Australia’s former special envoy on climate change explained to the Guardian,

“There’s no cover any longer with this,” Bamsey said. “I think in Joe Biden’s first conversation with Scott Morrison, or the second, climate change will be mentioned. It’s been such an important part of his campaign and he clearly recognises the economic imperative for change.”

Seventy-three nations have committed to net-zero by 2050, yet PM Morrison has skirted around the issue. In fact, members of his own center-right party have warned that making a net-zero pledge would be “political suicide” as Australia exports more coal than any nation on Earth.

The Bottom Line: Australia is especially vulnerable to climate change and this year’s climate-driven wildfires destroyed a fifth of the nation’s forests. The nation’s leaders must take action to curb emissions and help bolster the potential of Asutralia’s promising renewable energy industry.

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