UK High Commissioner urges Australia to bring stronger emissions target to COP26

Ahead of the major climate talks, now just weeks away, Vicki Treadell has urged the federal government to commit to further slashing emissions.

British High Commissioner to Australia Vicki Treadell

British High Commissioner to Australia Vicki Treadell Source: SBS News

The Morrison government must bring a more ambitious 2030 emissions target to the upcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the British High Commissioner to Australia says.

In an interview with SBS News, Vicki Treadell urged the federal government to consider slashing emissions between 40 to 50 per cent below 2005 levels, saying the coalition’s current target of 26 to 28 per cent is inadequate. 

“No movement would not be acceptable. We would find that disappointing,” Ms Treadell said. 

“The global benchmark is that majority of people are going for somewhere between 40 to 50 per cent. So ideally, that is what we would like to see.”

World leaders are being called on to commit to increasing the ambition of their emissions reduction efforts ahead of the major climate talks, which are now just weeks away. 

COP26 is widely considered to be the most crucial international meeting on climate change since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. 

Ms Treadell said some nations, such as the UK, had already gone further in enhancing their medium-term commitments. 

“My own country, we're going for 68 per cent by 2030 and 78 per cent by 2035, so we would hope to see [Australia do] something in that direction,” she said. 

The US has also announced it plans to cut emissions by 50 to 52 per cent while Canada has pledged 40 to 45 per cent.

UK High Commissioner urges Australia to commit to more ambitious emissions target

Last week, New South Wales announced it would halve its emissions by 2030, increasing the target from 35 per cent.

Dozens of countries around the world have also committed to net zero emissions by 2050 but Australia is yet to do the same.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is preparing a plan to take to his Nationals colleagues, some of whom are opposed to setting the target. 

“We would like to see progress and we know that time is running short with 36 days or so out from Glasgow,” Ms Treadell said.

In a statement in response to Ms Treadell's comments, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said: “Our first priority will always be to explain to the Australian people what our plan is and we will of course be updating our 2030 forecast later this year, as we do every year.”

“But the timing of that release is a matter for the Australian government, not foreign bureaucrats. While ambition is important, outcomes are what ultimately matter.”

Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the UK High Commissioner “needs to look at what’s happening in her own backyard before passing judgement on Australian domestic policies”.

“The current energy crisis in the UK is causing significant economic chaos affecting heavy industry, farmers and homeowners, and leaving supermarket shelves empty,” he said. “The High Commissioner would be better off addressing issues in her own country before providing gratuitous advice to Australia.”

Mr Morrison is yet to decide whether he will attend COP26 in person next month, saying it will coincide with Australia reopening from lockdown.

Ms Treadell said she is still hopeful the Prime Minister will attend.

“Of course, we would like to see Prime Minister Morrison there amongst that global leadership,” Ms Treadell said.

She added she would be “disappointed” if he didn’t make the summit, but would “understand” if he could not attend.

Last week former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said “history is made by those who turn up” and Mr Morrison’s absence would send a “pretty strong message about his priorities”.

It’s expected more than 100 world leaders will attend the global talks.

The UK and Australia are in negotiations over the final elements of a free trade deal.

Last month, Sky News UK reported a leaked internal email revealed British government officials caved to Australian demands to drop key climate change targets from the agreement.

Published 6 October 2021 at 6:10am, updated 6 October 2021 at 6:26pm
By Pablo Vinales
Source: SBS News