Scott Morrison has told the country’s top business executives that he “did a bit of a puzzle” after hearing one of the largest fossil fuel projects in Australia in the last decade had obtained final investment approval from energy giant Woodside.
The Prime Minister told the Business Council of Australia on Wednesday afternoon that the government welcomed Woodside’s decision on Monday to give the green light for the 16.2 billion Scarborough gas development. USD – a project that has been branded a “disaster” by environmentalists.
“I made some puzzles out of the hall the other day when I was minister [Keith] Pitt came up and confirmed to me that it had taken place, and Richard [Goyder, chairman of Woodside,] had been in contact, ”said the Prime Minister.
“I simply could not be more excited about it. It is such a shot in the back for the economy and it will give us strength into the future and it is a huge vote of confidence in what is happening here in Australia.”
The comments came in an excerpt from the speech, in which Morrison stated that Australia needed to secure its place in the new energy economy, including positioning the nation “to become a world-leading producer and exporter of hydrogen”.
But the prime minister assured business leaders as the government pursued new technologies to help Australia reach its new net zero in 2050 emission reduction targets – a commitment outlined by the prime minister before Cop26 in Glasgow – “of course we are not moving away from our established forces”, which means gas export.
Woodside said the project would be a source of low-carbon gas, but the Conservation Council of Western Australia said it represented the most polluting development of fossil fuels in recent times.
The International Energy Agency said in May that limiting global warming to 1.5 C, a target set in the Paris Agreement, meant that exploration and exploitation of new fossil fuel basins had to stop this year.
Morrison’s observation came when Mathias Cormann, Australia’s former finance minister, now acting OECD secretary general, told a foreign policy think tank that all countries should be “more ambitious” in terms of climate action.
In a response to a Lowy Institute event, Cormann said he had attended Cop26 earlier this month “where the need to accelerate global political action to match climate commitments was obviously very sharp”.
But when asked if Australia should have taken a more ambitious 2030 goal to Glasgow, Cormann directly avoided criticizing the coalition government, saying it was important “to have credible and realistic transitions” to net zero by 2050.
“I think it’s always important to be more ambitious, but it’s even more important to be able to deliver the results,” Cormann said as he gave the Lowy Institute’s Owen Harries lecture.
“And the result that we need for the world to deliver is globally zero by 2050. And in that sense, we need to continue to make decisions that help reduce the global problem that does not just move the problem. from one jurisdiction to other jurisdictions around the world. “
The EU has proposed CO2 limit adjustment taxes in an effort to avoid “carbon leakage”, with emissions-intensive industries moving to countries with less stringent climate policies.
Such tariffs have been strongly opposed by the Australian Government, which has branded the EU proposal a “new form of protectionism”.
But Cormann seemed to sympathize with the rationale behind EU-like border adjustments. He said the OECD’s push for greater transparency on CO2 pricing “would complement, not replace, other initiatives to address the risk of trade distortions and carbon leakage from the abolition of ambitions in individual jurisdictions”.
“The challenge is to ensure that the level of ambition and effort of individual jurisdictions can be raised to the required level, while maintaining a level playing field worldwide, avoiding counterproductive trade distortions and carbon leakage,” he said.
Cormann – who as a member of the Abbott administration was instrumental in abolishing the Gillard administration’s carbon pricing regime – also called for a “more internationally coherent and globally better coordinated approach to emissions pricing”. He gave a nod to broader structural reforms.
“It is also important to remember that securing the transition to net zero emissions is not a task for climate policy alone. We need a carefully sequenced and coordinated fiscal, financial and structural reform package in which the whole spectrum of public policy kicks in. same direction. “