KATHARINE MURPHY | Guardian Australia | Extract
CANBERRA - Pacific leaders are fully aware that things are not under control when it comes to Australia’s climate change efforts.
You can understand their impatience. They are standing on the frontline of a climate crisis, and trying to prod laggards around the world.
The Pacific needs the big emitters, and countries that can influence them, like Australia, to stop obfuscating and start acting while we’ve got a chance of averting the worst scenarios.
So, this past week, entering the global arena, Morrison found himself wedged between the campaign calm down offensive at home, and Australia’s demonstrable absence of climate leadership.
This cycle will repeat again and again as Australia fronts up to the rolling international discussions about climate change, unless the government can find the will to get serious.
Speaking of the sequence of global discussions, the next milestone is the United Nations climate summit in September.
Pacific leaders, who exert significant moral leadership given the existential threat they face, will have wanted to emerge from this week’s Tuvalu forum with the strongest collective statement possible to project ambition at the UN.
Morrison will attend the UN in September, and ahead of those discussions, the secretary general, António Guterres, has already written to Australia asking the government (and, of course, other governments) to outline plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Some countries will go to the UN armed with new commitments, and the countries with new commitments are given prominent speaking spots. Australia is not expected to be one of those countries. The current guidance is September is too soon for Australia to have a settled position on a 2050 strategy.
This is all pretty depressing, but there is one glimmer of light on the horizon.
Despite all the arm twisting in Tuvalu, Australia did, in the end, sign up to a statement that commits us to pursuing efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and to produce a 2050 strategy by 2020. That would be next year.
By signing up, Morrison has pushed the government past the Paris horizon, meaning Australia has entered a new round of policymaking on emissions reduction.
Bear in mind emissions reduction has generated civil war inside the Liberal party for much of the past decade.