How the world reacted to Scott Morrison’s carbon reductions plan

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Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes has ripped into the government’s key climate document which plans to lead Australia to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, calling it “ridiculously embarrassing” and “just more bulls—“.

Using less colourful language, the world’s media were marginally more restrained than the Atlassian founder in running the rule over Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan – but not by much.

Headlines and stories from many of the world’s most prestigious mastheads were critical of Australia’s net zero 2050 plan, particularly the detail – or lack of it – on the pages.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hold the plan he claims will lead Australia to net zero by 2050.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison hold the plan he claims will lead Australia to net zero by 2050. (Alex Ellinghausen)
Mr Cannon-Brookes tweeted late last night that he had read all 129 pages of the blue book Mr Morrison had held up yesterday, The Plan to Deliver Net Zero, The Australian Way – but he mocked the government document as nothing more than a “pamphlet”.

“Its (sic) not worth the paper I didn’t print it on,” he wrote.

“I understand technology damn well.”

Mr Cannon-Brookes, a longtime critic of Australia’s lack of action on carbon reductions, claimed the plan did not contain a “technology driven approach”, despite Mr Morrison repeatedly underlining yesterday how technology would be a core strategy for major reductions in Australia’s carbon emissions and achieving net zero.

“It’s inaction, misdirection & avoiding choices. I’m going to bed. This is just ridiculously embarrassing,” he wrote.

As Mr Cannon-Brookes and Australia slept, reporters and headline writers were busy in the northern hemisphere analysing Mr Morrison’s announcement, just days ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
CNN said that “Australia will be the rich world’s weakest link at COP26 with hollow net-zero and emissions pledges”.
The New York Times said Australia’s ambition to hit net zero by 2050 was based on a plan that “makes that hard to believe”.

It quoted Richie Merzian, climate and energy director at the Australian Institute, who appeared to back the views of Mr Cannon-Brookes, calling Australia’s plan “an update on the marketing materials used by the federal government to claim it’s doing something when it’s really doing nothing new.”

He added: “It’s kind of ridiculous.”

Smoke pours from the steelworks and coal loading facility in Port Kembla, NSW.
Smoke pours from the steelworks and coal loading facility in Port Kembla, NSW. (Getty / Brook Mitchell)
The Washington Post called out Mr Morrison over a refusal to “adopt a steeper 2030 commitment”.
British newspaper The Financial Times said Australia remained “wedded to fossil fuels” much to the “dismay of green groups which say phasing them out is key to credible decarbonisation goals”.
The venerable BBC said “Australia has long dragged its heels on climate action” and quoted Murdoch University fire ecology expert Joe Fontaine saying Mr Morrison’s net zero plan had “all the strength of a wet paper bag”.
The Irish Times spoke with Richard Black, senior associate at the Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit, who said Australia was “in the same camp very much as the Saudis” in presenting “an alternative vision of how you can get to net zero” while still burning fossil fuels.
The Independent detailed how Australia had promised to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, joining a host of developed countries, because scrutiny had increased on its “massive fossil fuel sector”.
The Beltana number 1 mine, an open cast or drift coal mine managed by Xstrata coal in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.
The Beltana number 1 mine, an open cast or drift coal mine managed by Xstrata coal in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. (AAP)
Reuters said Australia had been “long under fire as one of world’s top producers of coal and gas”, and pointed out Mr Morrison “will not legislate” the net zero goal and will “instead rely on consumers and companies to drive emission reductions”.
Closer to home, Indonesia’s Jakarta Post said Australia had “unveiled a much-delayed 2050 net zero emissions target, but shied away from setting more ambitious goals” ahead of COP26.
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