Prime Minister Scott Morrison has jumped on the defensive following the scathing revelations from a landmark United Nations report on climate change, deflecting blame onto China.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s findings released on Monday confirmed Australia had warmed 1.4C with the severe impacts of this already seen in many regions across the country.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Morrison said it could not be ignored that the developing world accounts for “two thirds of global emissions”.
The PM pointed to the fact that China’s emissions “accounted for more than the entire OECD combined”.
“We need a solution that addresses the real commercial challenges of developing countries to solve this problem,” he said.
China ranks far higher in total emissions than Australia – coming in at first in the world compared to Australia in 9th.
However, Australia performs far worse than China when CO2 emissions per person are factored in.
For context, the per capita emissions from China are 5.4 tonnes while Australia emits 17 tonnes.
Mr Morrison acknowledged that the IPCC results showed Australia was facing a “serious challenge” with climate change, but made it clear that climate taxes were not how he planned to address the problem.
“Our approach is technology, not taxes for solving this problem,” he said.
“What is important is we ensure the technology breakthroughs that are necessary to transform the world over the next ten, 20, and 30 years.”
The PM emphasised that punishing developing countries for emissions was not on the table.
“I totally understand and accept that the advanced world, the advanced economies of the world have developed their economies over a long time – principally on the basis of fossil fuel industries,” he said.
“It’s a very fair argument that the developing world makes. Why should our economic futures be denied when advanced economies around the world have been able to go forward on that basis of their energy economies over a long period of time?”
Instead, Mr Morrison said the focus needed to be on “technological breakthroughs” to address climate change.
He said these needed to be made available to both advanced and developing countries.
Speaking to the Today show earlier on Tuesday, deputy opposition leader Richard Marles slammed the Coalition for having a party room “full of a whole lot of people who are essentially denying the science of climate change.”