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Australia pledges tech investment ahead of Biden climate summit pressure

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

US President expected to announce 50 per cent cut to emissions by 2030.

The Morrison government has pledged another $565.8 million towards cleaner technologies on the eve of a virtual climate summit at which Australia is expected to come under pressure.

US President Joe Biden is reportedly set to announce a more ambitious target to cut his country's emissions at least in half by 2030, after UK Primer Minister Boris Johnson pledged a 78 per cent cut by 2034. 

Australia's current target is 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has so far refused to put a timeframe on the nation's "road to net-zero", which many other countries have committed to by 2050.

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Mr Morrison has this week been pushing the idea the goal will be achieved through improvements to technology and industry rather than "imposing taxes" or "eliminating industries".

The newest package, aimed at bringing down the cost of low-emissions technologies, is based around co-funding international technology partnerships, generating $3 to $5 of investment for every dollar put in.

The government lists the US, UK, Japan, Korea and Germany as potential partners in Australian-based projects hoped to create up to 2500 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," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

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"As we look to take advantage of these new export opportunities, we won't look to reduce our own emissions by shutting down our existing export industries like agriculture, aluminium, coal and gas."

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The eight-year funding announcement, on the back of $539 million pledged on Wednesday towards hydrogen and carbon capture hubs, is linked to the government's "technology investment roadmap" goal of investing in priority technologies such as clean hydrogen, low-cost energy storage and low-carbon materials.

"The goal of the roadmap is to help industry to scale up to convert the green premium into a green discount, thereby ensuring a future low-cost, low-emissions economy," government special adviser for low emissions technologies Dr Alan Finkel said in a statement.

"Collaboration with other like-minded countries on development and deployment will help achieve this goal."

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The US's nonbinding but symbolically important pledge is a key element of Mr Biden's two-day summit, which begins on Thursday when world leaders gather online to share strategies to combat climate change. 

China announced on Wednesday that President Xi Jinping would participate. China is the world's largest carbon polluter, with the US second.

The US emissions target has been eagerly awaited by all sides of the climate debate. 

It will signal how aggressively Mr Biden wants to move on climate change.

The 50 per cent target would nearly double America's previous commitment and help the Biden administration prod other countries for ambitious emissions cuts as well.

The European Union on Wednesday reached a tentative deal intended to make the 27-nation bloc carbon-neutral by 2050. 

The agreement commits the EU to an intermediate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

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- with Associated Press

Source: 9News

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