The country is the world’s second-biggest exporter of coal and the Morrison government has said it will continue to mine, export and use the fossil fuel well beyond 2030 — a stance that has increasingly isolated Australia from global efforts to address the crisis.
Although Morrison is expected to unveil Australia’s new position on climate change ahead of COP26, he did not detail any new targets at the news conference Friday.
“That’s an important environmental goal,” Morrison said. “But what’s important is Australia’s economy goes from strength to strength and the livelihoods and the lives that Australians know, particularly in rural and regional areas, are able to go forward with hope, and with confidence, and that’s what my plan will be all about.”
More than 100 world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have confirmed their attendance at COP26, which starts on October 31. Leaders of the G20, which includes Australia, will be convening in Rome ahead of the talks.
Australia is one of a handful of countries that did not increase its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when registering its official update on its climate plans to the UN last year. It sent its update on December 31 with little fanfare, keeping its target to a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, from 2005 levels.
The Australian Climate Council, which is independent of the government, has suggested the country slash emissions by 75% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, to help contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
More than 190 countries signed up to the Paris Agreement in 2015, in which they committed to trying to contain global warming to 2 degrees — but preferably 1.5 degrees — above pre-industrial levels to stave off the more catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis.
CNN’s Helen Regan and Angela Dewan contributed reporting.