Australia's worst weather record falls under COP26 light

“Australia's ambition for COP26 was to end it. To do as little as possible, ”said one critic of environmental government policy.

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In the days leading up to the arrival in Glasgow, Scotland, in what has been called a major summit on global climate systems, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that his country has adopted a goal of eliminating zero carbon emissions by 2050.

But he added that he would not legislate a policy and would instead rely on consumers and companies to drive greenhouse gas emissions.

It was the kind of measure that half the concerned climate activists would pass on to COP26, the United Nations' latest climate talks in Glasgow. They say it happened.

“Australia's ambition for COP26 was to end it. To do as little as possible, ”said Richie Merzian, who previously spent ten years as COP coordinator for the Australian government and now serves as director of the Climate and Energy Program at The Australia Institute, an independent public policy tank.

Best known as a sun-drenched country due to its vast arid and desert climate, Australia has long been a fiery flame as one of the world's leading producers of coal and gas, and has been partially barred from being a congressional criminal.

While the country remains an important US ally in the midst of China's conflict, it has done little in recent years to suggest that it will be a leading partner in the fight against climate change, despite its pride in its abundant wildlife and natural resources. Its actions at the climate conference did little to alleviate environmental concerns.

Critics say Australia's declaration of zero was a futile promise and that the country's presence at the world summit only shows that the current participating government is more concerned with fuel interests than dealing with climate change in any way.

"They wanted to stop the criticism that they are not doing anything about the weather," he said, but did little more than that, Merzian said in a telephone interview from Glasgow on the closing days of the conference.

David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, was also shocked by his criticism of Australia's performance at the climate summit.

"The position the Morrison government took in Glasgow was disgraceful, insufficient, and insufficient as the weather is growing rapidly in front of our eyes," he said in an email from Sydney after the conference.

NBC News reached out to Morrison's office for comment and was briefed on public comment by Angus Taylor, minister of industry, energy and gas reduction.

“Under our zero emissions target by 2050, we will work towards a realistic, reliable waste reduction and build on our success records - reducing pollution while growing our economy, maintaining affordable, reliable energy and ensuring that our regions survive. strong. That is the way of Australia, ”Taylor said in a joint statement with Marise Payne, the foreign minister, after the climate summit.

Faced with a powerful petroleum industry and a host of natural disasters, climate change has reached the heart of Australian politics.

Mining has been a major influence on the Australian economy since it was a British colony in the early 1800's, but coal production has actually increased after World War II and the industry is still a major employer in many rural communities.

The country is one of the world's largest emitters and is listed as the third largest exporter of fossil fuels, following only Russia and Saudi Arabia.

In Glasgow, Australia came under criticism for not signing agreements such as the so-called Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement promoted by the United Kingdom or the United States-led global methane Pledge in an effort to curb methane emissions.

Forest fires continue to burn throughout NSW as Disastrous Fire Conditions Rise

Firefighters fighting one of Australia's most devastating wildfires in Hillville in November 2019. File for Sam Mooy / Getty Images

Coal power has been the subject of much controversy during the closing hours of the summit, with delegates from China and India insisting on undermining the final language of the COP26 agreement and instead committing themselves to "extracting" coal and the term "philanthropy". . ”