AFR – Dec 9, 2020 – 12.01am
Scott Morrison could announce plans to dump the use of Kyoto carry-over credits as early as Friday night in an address to Pacific leaders, if he is ultimately denied the opportunity to speak a day later at a global climate summit being hosted by his British counterpart Boris Johnson.
Mr Morrison has dropped the controversial proposal that Australia count the excess credits it accrued when meeting its 2020 Kyoto target towards its 2030 Paris target of reducing emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent over 2005 levels.
He had intended to announce it at the December 12 summit hosted by Mr Johnson but has thus far been declined a speaking spot because the announcement is not deemed sufficiently ambitious or bold, which is the price of entry.
While that issue is yet to be resolved, Mr Morrison has a separate speech scheduled 24 hours earlier on Friday night to a Pacific Islands Climate Forum, whch is a sidebar to the annual regional gathering.
Before the forum, 14 Pacific political and community leaders wrote to Mr Morrison urging him to abandon his government’s plan to count the Kyoto credits towards the 2030 target, and to also commit Australia to net zero emissions by 2050.
“Pacific island nations have long been leaders in driving global progress to combat climate change,” the letter says.
“However, Australia’s current Paris Agreement emission reduction target remains one of the weakest among wealthy nations.”
It says the Kyoto protocol carry-over credits “legally cannot, and morally should not, be used to meet Australia’s 2030 Paris Agreement target”.
“Australia needs the Pacific as much as the Pacific needs Australia,” it says.
“As our children and grandchildren face unprecedented risks due to climate change, now is the time to stand together and work together to secure their future safety and prosperity.”
In a speech two weeks ago to the Business Council of Australia, Mr Morrison all but confirmed he was dumping the Kyoto proposal because Australia would meet, even beat, its 2030 target without them.
The decision will become final in the next few days when new emissions reduction forecasts are released.
A handful of Coalition MPs are unhappy with the idea, pointing out that some of the countries lecturing Australia had Kyoto deficits, which they did not have to make up for in their Paris targets.
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Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz told the Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday that the credits should not be given away.
Mr Morrison said the credits were real, that they were a reflection of Australia’s overachievement and the product of policies implemented over a long period.
He said the credits were akin to getting ahead on repaying the mortgage.
The PM said the government had made no announcements yet but “if it is not necessary to use them to meet our targets, then it means we’ve again exceeded our commitments”.
Phillip Coorey is the political editor based in Canberra. He is a two-time winner of the Paul Lyneham award for press gallery excellence. Connect with Phillip on Facebook and Twitter. Email Phillip at email@example.com