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Scott Morrison, looking into a microscope

Morrison wants to focus on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘when’ in climate debate

Scott Morrison says he hopes to focus the conversation at this week’s Biden climate summit on the question of how to achieve net-zero emissions, declaring there has been enough conversation about the timing.

Ahead of his speech to the virtual summit overnight Thursday (AET), Morrison has announced next month’s budget will contain a new $565.8 million for backing low emissions international technological partnerships by co-funding research and demonstration projects.

The partnerships will leverage $3 to $5 in co-investment for every dollar the government puts in.

Referring to joining President Biden and other leaders Morrison told a Wednesday news conference, “I’m seeking to focus that conversation, it’s now about the ‘how’ – there [have] been enough conversations about the ‘when’, it’s about the how, now”.

Morrison’s emphasis on the “how” in getting to net zero comes as the British government focused this week on speeding up its efforts, announcing it would legislate to “reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels”.

The UK statement said that in addressing the summit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “will urge countries to raise ambition on tackling climate change and join the UK in setting stretching targets for reducing emissions by 2030 to align with net zero”.

Biden is set to announce a new target for the United States.

Morrison is pivoting his government’s policy towards formally embracing later this year the widely-accepted 2050 net-zero target but, mindful of some naysayers in Coalition ranks, he has not signed up yet.

For the international partnership program, Australia is having discussions with potential partners including the United States, the UK, Japan, Korea and Germany.

The government wants to get international collaboration on technologies through projects in Australia and technology transfer, and is tying the effort into its emphasis on jobs.

“The world is changing and we want to stay ahead of the curve by working with international partners to protect the jobs we have in energy-reliant businesses, and create new jobs in the low emissions technology sector,” Morrison said in a statement.

“These partnerships mean Australia will keep leading the way in low emissions technology that also means more jobs here at home.”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the technologies prioritised under the government’s technology investment roadmap “have the potential to substantially reduce or eliminate emissions from sectors that account for 90% of global emissions”.

But Australia couldn’t on its own make these technologies globally scalable and commercially viable.

The government money for the partnerships investment is over eight years.

This week Morrison also announced $539.2 million for hydrogen and carbon capture hubs and technologies.

“I want Australia and hydrogen technology to be synonymous around the world,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “And it’s a key point I’ll be making at the climate summit over the next few days – that Australia is really putting the flag right out there when it comes to ensuring that we lead the world in hydrogen technology.

"The hydrogen that can fire up furnaces that used to be done by other forms of fossil fuels, that can run those trucks, that can run long-distance transport, and do all of the things we need it to do, solving these problems.”

He again stressed his government’s approach to emissions reduction was based on “technology not taxes”.

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