Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

After a series of frosty encounters at the G20 summit in Rome, Scott Morrison has finally found a mate at Cop26.

Scott Morrison has been thanked for being a “dear friend” to India on the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning took to Twitter to declare there is never “a dull moment” when he’s with his friend Mr Morrison.

It came just hours after he praised the Australian medical regulator’s decision to recognise India’s locally produced Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin.

Mr Morrison later tweeted it was “wonderful” to see his friend at Cop26.

As the G20 leaders’ summit kicked off last week, Australia and India were joined only by China to resist a global bid to phase out coal-fired power and mining.

In his address to the Cop26 summit, Mr Modi committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2070 – two decades later than the rest of the world.

The announcement falls short of a key goal of the climate summit, which is for nations to agree to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US and the EU.

It is the fifth largest export market for Australian coal, and imports into the country have risen off the back of Australian trade woes with China.

Mr Modi also promised his nation would transition to generating 50 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

The Indian leader made the most of his time at the UN leaders’ summit, whizzing around to meet with several of his international counterparts.

Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister was pictured with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.

He thanked the royal for his commitment to sustainable development and climate change.

Originally published as Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

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Climate Change COP26: Kevin Rudd critical of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Kevin Rudd has warned world leaders will see through Scott Morrison’s plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described Scott Morrison as a “C-grade Boris Johnson” and warned world leaders at the COP26 conference will see through his plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Under Mr Morrison’s plan announced on Tuesday, more than $20bn will be invested in “low emissions technologies”, but the modelling will not be released until later.

Mr Morrison will soon travel to Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, but Mr Rudd warned the Prime Minister would likely face some criticism from other leaders.

“I think, for example, you could rely upon the European Union and probably the United States to finger Morrison for, frankly, this duplicitous,” he told the Democracy Sausage podcast.

“The 2050 carbon neutrality debate is a done deal. The real action is what governments are now committing to by way of their renewed, redefined, near-term carbon reduction targets for this decade 2020 through until 2030.

“That’s where the rubber hits the road … most governments are in the business of advancing reductions of around about 50 per cent against 2005 levels of their current greenhouse gas emissions.

“That’s certainly where the Americans have gone, that’s where most of the other majors have gone … so right now, we are a shag on a rock in terms of 2030.

“The illusion being created … is somehow there’s been a Damascus Road conversion and there’ll be garlands of flowers thrown out on the path as Morrison makes his way to the conference centre in Glasgow — nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mr Rudd also hit out at the Nationals, describing the party as “quite corrupt”.

“They’ve ceased to be a party for anything or anybody other than themselves,” he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Rudd also spoke about Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine deal with the UK and US, scrapping its previous arrangement with France.

“The net consequence of what’s happened, I think is … it’s not just alienating the French, but you’ve actually turned the French into a hostile agent against Australian interests regionally and globally,” Mr Rudd said.

“(Also), you’ve established a reputation sovereignly for Australia as a country which doesn’t honour its contracts — not good.

“I think most critically … we have now at present the illusion of nuclear-powered subs arriving in this country sometime in 2030s, possibly not until the 2040s, and us being left strategically naked on the way through.

“I find that the most absolutely irresponsible element of this entire equation … I wonder where the grown ups in the room have been during these discussions.”

Originally published as Kevin Rudd criticises Scott Morrison’s plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050

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Officials grilled over ‘secret’ nuclear submarine deal

Officials have remained tight-lipped over a submarine deal that caused an international rift with the French.

Taxpayers are no closer to finding out any further details about the AUKUS alliance, as officials were coy about the submarine deal during a parliamentary hearing on Monday.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong took up the issue in Senate estimates late Monday afternoon, grilling officials over when the decision to scrap the French submarine deal was made.

The decision to partner with the UK and US for the acquisition of eight nuclear powered submarines caused an international rift with the French, who threatened to block critical EU trade talks with Australia over the diplomatic fracas.

Reporting following the announcement of AUKUS indicated Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the first move to push Australia towards nuclear submarines in March 2020.

When asked, First Assistant Secretary Lachlan Colquhoun said Mr Morrison had requested a review into Australia’s internal defence capabilities.

In the review’s findings, the Secretary of Defence and Chief of the Defence force proposed Australia “investigate the feasibility of nuclear power”.

Asked when that review and its findings was handed to the Prime Minister, Mr Colquhoun could not answer.

“I genuinely don’t know. I was only briefed into this material, very small group of people this year,” he told the estimates hearings.

Senate leader Simon Birmingham later told the hearing high-level discussions were held in March 2020, and more specific discussions began in May 2020.

“March was a high level discussion initiated around submarine capability,” he said.

“May was a more specific request in terms of, okay, the strategic advice and outlook is suggesting change environments in relation to submarine capability, therefore, would it be feasible, possible, to actually look at nuclear powered submarines.”

Asked if the Prime Minister had already decided Australia was going to walk away from the French deal by the time Peter Dutton was installed as Defence Minister in March 2021, Mr Colquhoun said: “I don’t believe so, Senator, to the best of my knowledge.”

Mr Birmingham said he was also brought into the loop by the Prime Minister in March 2021, prior to a Cabinet discussion.

“I had a discussion with the Prime Minister – prior to there being a Cabinet committee discussion,” he said.

When that Cabinet discussion was held, officials could not say.

Much of the questioning put by Senator Wong was referred to either the Department of Defence or taken on notice.

Later, officials told the estimates hearing the Memorandum of Understanding signed to create the AUKUS agreement was “classified”.

“It’s all very secret, isn’t it,” Senator Wong quipped.

Originally published as Officials grilled over ‘secret’ nuclear submarine deal

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Armed forces detain PM and other leaders in Sudan ‘coup’

Sudanese protesters lift national flags as they rally on 60th Street in the capital Khartoum

Armed forces detained Sudan’s prime minister over his refusal to support their “coup” on Monday, the information ministry said, after weeks of tensions between the military and civilian figures sharing power since the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council and ministers in Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government had also been detained, the ministry said in a statement on Facebook.

Soldiers stormed the headquarters of Sudan’s state broadcaster in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, the ministry said, as patriotic songs were aired on television.

“Civilian members of the transitional sovereign council and a number of ministers from the transitional government have been detained by joint military forces,” the ministry said.

It added that “after refusing to support the coup, an army force detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and took him to an unidentified location”.

“Any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk US assistance,” Feltman said on Twitter.

“I am calling on security forces to immediately release all those unlawfully detained or put under house arrest,” said Volker Perthes, chief of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan.

“The EU calls on all stakeholders and regional partners to put back on track the transition process,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell tweeted.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions which were key in leading the 2019 anti-Bashir protests, denounced what it called a “military coup” and urged demonstrators “to fiercely resist” it.

Sudan has been undergoing a precarious transition marred by political divisions and power struggles since Bashir was toppled in April 2019.

The ex-president has been wanted by the International Criminal Court for more than a decade over charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region.

But the main civilian bloc — the Forces for Freedom and Change — which led the anti-Bashir protests in 2019, has splintered into two opposing factions.

“We renew our confidence in the government, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and reforming transitional institutions — but without dictations or imposition,” Arman added.

Protesters took to the streets in several parts of Khartoum carrying the Sudanese flags.

“We will not accept military rule and we are ready to give our lives for the democratic transition in Sudan,” said demonstrator Haitham Mohamed.

– Rival protests –

Last week tens of thousands of Sudanese marched in several cities to back the full transfer of power to civilians, and to counter a rival days-long sit-in outside the presidential palace in Khartoum demanding a return to “military rule”.

On Saturday, Hamdok denied rumours he had agreed to a cabinet reshuffle, calling them “not accurate”.

Also on Saturday, Feltman met jointly with Hamdok, the chairman of Sudan’s ruling body General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

Analysts have said the recent mass protests showed strong support for a civilian-led democracy, but warned street demonstrations may have little impact on the powerful factions pushing a return to military rule.

Originally published as Armed forces detain PM and other leaders in Sudan ‘coup’

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