NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole says he will oppose Hawkins and Rumker coalmining proposal

The NSW Deputy Premier says he will oppose a coalmining project in a ‘beautiful’ area of NSW that lies next to a national park.

The NSW Deputy Premier says he will move to stop a controversial coal project near Wollemi National Park.

Paul Toole told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday that he would propose to the cabinet that the coal exploration project in the Hawkins and Rumker areas should be ruled out.

“It is my intention to take this proposal to my colleagues, and it is my intention to actually rule it out,” Mr Toole said.

The 3000-hectare area of land, just north of Mr Toole’s electorate of Bathurst, has been earmarked for potential exploration, but some locals have argued against the plan.

A report by consultancy firm EarthScapes that was commissioned by anti-mining lobby group Lock the Gate showed there were dozens of Aboriginal heritage sites nearby.

The report said the Hawkins and Rumker areas, and nearby Ganguddy-Kelgoola, had no less than 45 recorded heritage sites between them.

The consultants also said 22 threatened animal species and six threatened plant species would be at risk.

Mr Toole said he was not convinced the project would be commercially viable and “social issues” were also at play.

“It is a beautiful area,” he said.

“And there are commercial issues around its viability, but there’s also social issues that have been identified as well.

“And I think it makes it very clear for me to actually say to my department that when we put the report going up to my colleagues, it will be actually indicating that we rule it out.”

Greens upper house MP Cate Faehrmann, who used her time at budget estimates to ask Mr Toole about his position on the project, said afterwards the Deputy Premier’s announcement was “wonderful news”.

“I am now calling on the NSW government to protect this culturally rich and environmentally significant area by adding it to the national parks estate,” she said.

“This area was originally left out of Wollemi National Park because of its potential for coal exploration.

“Opening it up now would have devastated the local community and the Dabee Wiradjuri people and put 7000 hectares of threatened ecological communities, countless Aboriginal heritage sites and our climate at risk.”

She also said the government should rule out coal and gas projects in Ganguddy-Kelgoola as well.

Originally published as NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole says he will oppose Hawkins and Rumker coalmining proposal

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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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Scotty departs for Scotland for major climate talks

The Prime Minister is set to face world leaders for the first time since committing Australia to carbon neutral by 2050.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flown off for key climate talks with a commitment but without finalised modelling for his plan.

Mr Morrison will meet with world leaders first at the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome before travelling to Glasgow for the much anticipated United Nations COP26 climate summit.

It is the first in-person gathering of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies since the pandemic started.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor will accompany the Prime Minister on his VIP jet “Shark One”.

In a statement prior to his departure, Mr Morrison said the pandemic and climate would be at the top of his agenda during his time overseas.

“These important international meetings come as the world has reached a critical point in our health response and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and our collective effort to address the challenges of climate change,” Mr Morrison said.

“COP26 will be crucial in the global effort to address the challenges of climate change.

“I look forward to supporting Prime Minister Johnson, as host of COP26, to achieve our Paris Agreement objectives and collaborate to collectively deliver net zero emissions by 2050.”

Also on Mr Morrison’s agenda will be his pitch to leaders to thwart the power of social media giants.

“We need to fully harness the benefits of digitalisation, but in doing that, making sure the rules that apply in the real world, apply in the digital world,” he told reporters earlier on Thursday.

“I will continue to press, as Australia always has, and show the leadership on this issue globally that we must hold social media platforms to account.”

After a turbulent week in parliament, the arrival of the COP26 summit will bring little relief to Mr Morrison, who is set to face calls to lift Australia’s climate targets beyond his 2050 pledge.

In the days since his policy release, Mr Morrison has copped criticism for the strategy, which lacks a solid 2030 commitment.

Instead, Mr Morrison will take projections to Glasgow, which, if reached, could reduce Australia’s emissions by 30 to 35 per cent by 2030.

He’s also set to be reunited with former colleague Mathias Cormann, who is likely to press Australia to adopt stronger climate targets – including a carbon pricing scheme.

In a statement overnight, Mr Cormann said progress across G20 nations remained “uneven”.

“G20 economies are lifting their ambition and efforts, including through the explicit and implicit pricing of carbon emissions,” the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development secretary-general said.

“However, progress remains uneven across countries and sectors, and is not well enough coordinated globally.

“We need a globally more coherent approach which enables countries to lift their ambition and effort to the level required to meet global net zero by 2050, with every country carrying an appropriate and fair share of the burden while avoiding carbon leakage and trade distortions.

“Carbon prices and equivalent measures need to become significantly more stringent and globally better coordinated to properly reflect the cost of emissions to the planet, and put us on the path to genuinely meet the Paris Agreement climate goals.

OECD analysis found Australia ranked 11th out of 18 countries for carbon pricing, which Australia imposes through fuel excise.

Australia does not have a carbon pricing scheme following the repeal of the Gillard government’s carbon tax in 2014.

Mr Cormann will also attend the G20 talks and COP26 climate summit.

The Prime Minister has previously said he will not introduce a carbon pricing scheme.

Originally published as Scott Morrison departs for Glasgow armed with a net zero commitment but without modelling

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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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Angus Taylor questioned over Morrison’s climate change emissions reduction plan for net zero

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has come under fire over several potential shortcomings in the Morrison government’s net zero emissions plan.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor appeared unable to name a single new emissions reduction policy contained in the Morrison government’s climate change “plan” during an interview on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier announced Australia would commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, following much internal division within the Coalition caused by disagreement between the Liberals and the Nationals over the target.

Under the plan announced by Mr Morrison, more than $20bn will be invested in “low emissions technologies”, including carbon capture and storage, by 2030.

But the plan will not be enshrined in law and its specifics, including the modelling which supports it, will not be released until a later, unspecified date.

Mr Morrison said projections show Australia is on track to cut emissions by 30 to 35 per cent by 2030, but the formal target of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels would remain.

ABC7.30 host Leigh Sales grilled Mr Taylor over the plan, asking him: “How is this an ambitious plan when none of the policies in it are new, when it’s not legislated and when there are no short-term benchmarks against which to measure progress?”

Mr Taylor told the ABC the government had been developing policies to support the plan for several years and rattled off a list, including investments in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the “technology investment road map” it released last September.

“That plan today made the point that those policies will get us within range of net zero by 2050,” Mr Taylor said, appearing to concede there are no new policies involved.

The Prime Minister is days away from flying to Glasgow for the crucial United Nations COP26 climate change summit, where he is expected to unveil Australia’s plan for net zero after facing significant international pressure.

Ms Sales asked Mr Taylor if Mr Morrison would be going to the conference to say Australia is “not going to do anything extra or new”.

Mr Taylor replied: “We have been doing much new in recent times”.

He said Australia could achieve net zero by investing in a technology portfolio that would curtail emissions while strengthening traditional industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and resources.

In the Morrison government’s plan, 15 per cent of the planned emission reduction is earmarked for technologies that haven’t been invented yet.

Originally published as Energy Minister Angus Taylor grilled over new emissions reduction ‘plan’

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Scott Morrison’s late night climate promise

Scott Morrison has sought to alleviate concerns over his newly announced net zero target in a late night interview.

Scott Morrison has used a late-night interview to pitch his newly-released climate plan, rejecting concerns the government has broken a promise not to increase climate targets.

Mr Morrison on Tuesday outlined his plan to reach net zero ahead of his trip to a major UN climate summit in Glasgow. Under the plan, more than $20 billion will be invested in low emissions technologies including carbon capture and storage.

The Prime Minister also unveiled new projections, which if reached, could see Australia reduce emissions by 30 to 35 per cent by 2030.

Speaking with Sky News, the Prime Minister declared “nothing has changed” and insisted the shift towards a carbon neutral future was consistent with his rhetoric at the 2019 election.

“Well in 2019 there was two plans. There was Bill Shorten’s plan which he said he wanted to reduce emissions by 2030 by 45 per cent and there was our plan to reduce it by 26 to 28 per cent, ” Mr Morrison said.

“Now that’s what we’ve gone ahead with. The 45 per cent plan was rejected.”

Seeking to assure voters, Mr Morrison insisted the government had not backflipped on previous proposals and the and the last election was decided on 2030 targets, not net zero.

“Nothing has changed at all,” he declared.

“There was no discussion of net zero by 2050 at the last election. That wasn’t the debate … It was a choice between those two 2030 plans.”

Mr Morrison said he couldn’t shield the country from climate change – or the global fallout from perceived policy inaction.

“I said I would only ever contemplate (net zero) if we had a plan that enabled us to achieve it,” he said.

“We can’t just pretend these things aren’t going to happen from overseas. These things are occurring.

“And as Prime Minister I need to protect Australia from those impacts, decisions being made in other parts of the world, gonna have an impact here.

“Our plan helps us both protect Australians from that and realise the opportunities so we can succeed as we have all along.”

Addressing the concerns of the “quiet Australians”, Mr Morrison vowed Australia would keep mining and farming.

“We‘re not asking anything to be closed down. We’re going to keep digging, we’re going to keep mining, we’re going to keep farming,” he told Sky News.

“We’re going to keep doing all of these things, and nothing in our plan is about shutting any of those things down.”

Earlier, Mr Morrison dismissed comments he had been forced to this position by the United States and the United Kingdom.

He also denied the signing of the AUKUS agreement was contingent on adopting more robust climate targets.

“We decide what our policy is here, and this is in Australia‘s interest to do this,” he told 6PR.

“That said, of course, they have some strong views on this but their plans are different to ours, they’re going down a different path.”

On nuclear power, Mr Morrison told Sky News he would not subject Australians to the debate, considering it did not have bipartisan support.

“Right now there’s a moratorium on nuclear (energy) here in Australia and the Labor Party are totally opposed. And I’m just not going to put Australia through the argument,” he said.

Originally published as Scott Morrison pitches climate plan in late night interview

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