Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate: How the Urgency of Climate Change was Lost on Morrison

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Bronte Munro

Scott Morrison’s microphone was muted for the first few seconds of his address at Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate; however, this took little away from the limited contribution he made to Australia’s carbon emission reduction pledge. Instead, his speech focused on how Australia was going to reach its 2030 Paris Agreement commitments, rather than when it planned on achieving them. The crux of Morrison’s speech emphasised Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap initiative, and its role in transforming industries through sustainable technology, as opposed to resorting to carbon taxes that eliminate jobs and livelihoods. Morrison’s speech largely played into the domestic political divide on the issue of reducing carbon emissions, and notably affirmed Australia’s unwillingness to take global leadership on climate change.

What was the Leaders Summit on Climate all about?

The Summit, which was held on April 22 23, 2021 (Earth Day), consisted of forty global leaders who were invited by President Biden to pledge renewed targets for the reduction of carbon emissions by 2030. Biden opened by committing the US to a target of 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 based on 2005 levels. The ambitious target signalled Washington’s active return to the forefront of global action against climate change, following the disruptive period of denialism under the Trump administration. The majority of the global leaders present were quick to come to the table with their own 2030 targets and bolster behind the familiarity of US leadership. This comes in anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow, where further discussion on how to reduce planetary warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius will remain at the heart of the discussion.

Australia’s Lack of Commitment

Despite watching the positive response from the twenty state leaders who spoke before him, Scott Morrison’s speech notably diverged from the themes of the summit. Morrison placed considerable emphasis on Australia’s achievement of its Kyoto 2020 commitments, despite them containing comparatively lenient targets that allowed Canberra to count its avoided land clearing as a part of its contribution. Meanwhile, other nations took to the opportunity to urge greater cooperat