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Australia’s Morrison looking at long-term plan over emissions, likely to miss Glasgow conference

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Photo: IANS)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he may not attend the important UN climate summit in Glasgow.

The country is under pressure to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. It is also one of the largest coal exporters.

The Glasgow climate conference is set to look at Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)–the efforts by a country to reduce its national emissions–and debate on net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Australia has not made a commitment on reducing its emissions.

Morrison told the West Australian newspaper: "We have not made any final decisions. I mean it is another trip overseas and I have been on several this year and spent a lot of time in quarantine".

The Prime Minister added: "I have to focus on things here and with Covid. Australia will be opening up around that time. There will be a lot of issues to manage and I have to manage those competing demands."

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The UNFCC meeting at Glasgow, Scotland, is touted to be the biggest climate conference since the one in Paris in 2015. With the US pushing for a serious implementation of the Paris agreement, this meet is likely to agree to targets over global warming.

The world-over many countries are witnessing severe weather-related incidents like floods, forest fires, typhoons, heat waves and cyclones, leading to concern among governments over the "cost of inaction". Climate scientists have been issuing warnings for long that extreme weather incidents and fierce fires will become common if emissions are not reduced.

Australia too is increasingly becoming a victim to a changing climate. Environmentalists say the Australian economy could lose billions of dollars as the country faces bushfires, storms and floods.

Even though Morrison was dismissive about the Glasgow conference, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia would be "strongly represented at the summit".

The net-zero commitment to reducing carbon emissions is a difficult one. Australia has been non-commital about it with the Morrison government saying that it will achieve net-zero carbon emissions "as soon as possible", but has not made any commitments over it.

Farming and mining communities in Australia will have to be persuaded over battling climate change. Morrison said that he was trying to bring the government and the country together on environmental commitments that can stand for the next 20-30 years.