Daniel McCulloch and Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)
Australia has called for rules around global carbon markets to be finalised at the UN climate summit in Madrid and urged technological solutions to cut emissions.
Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor told the summit on Tuesday Australia was committed to the Paris agreement and on track to meet and beat its target set for 2030.
But he also urged action on shoring up the legitimacy of the global carbon trading market, which some say is undermined by corruption.
“Here in Madrid, we need to finalise arrangements for Paris agreement carbon markets that give us confidence traded carbon units represent genuine emissions reductions,” Mr Taylor said.
As well, he used the speech to announce Australia would take part in a new initiative known as the Leadership Group for Industry Transition, aimed at cleaning up the world’s heaviest greenhouse gas emitting industries such as steel, cement, aluminium, aviation and shipping.
Mr Taylor said strong messages and targets alone would not address climate change, no matter how ambitious.
“The world needs action to reduce emissions and Australia believes technology will be a key driver of the global transition to lower emissions,” he said.
Australia’s focus was on working with industry, researchers and international partners on “priority technology” such as hydrogen.
A national hydrogen strategy was launched last month, outlining the benefits not only in terms of emissions, but the domestic economy and exports.
Last year $14.1 billion was invested in clean energy in Australia, with renewables now making up over 25 per cent of the national electricity market.
And Australia has the world’s highest uptake of residential solar panels, with one in five households now using them.
Earlier at the summit, Fijian clergyman and climate advocate James Bhagwan seized on an infamous image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison brandishing a lump of coal in parliament.
“As much as I love him as a Christian brother, each lump of coal represents a nail in our coffins and to our crosses,” Reverend Bhaghwan said.
Mr Taylor said Australia was providing an extra $500 million over five years from 2020 to help Pacific nations invest in clean energy and climate and disaster resilience.
And an Asia Pacific disaster risk reduction summit would be held in Brisbane in June.
Mr Morrison, who was in Sydney on Tuesday, said he respected the views of all members of the “Pacific family”.
“No government has done more to engage the Pacific than our government.”
Australia has pledged to reduce emissions by 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of the Paris agreement.
However government projections show more than half that target will be achieved through carryover credits from achieving goals of the Kyoto protocol.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the government was trying to “fiddle with the figures” to meet international climate commitments.
“Well, it’s no wonder the world is pushing back on that,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Queensland.
“The government’s position on climate change and energy is embarrassing.”
Mr Albanese said the government needed to reduce domestic carbon emissions and become more involved in global action to address climate change.