Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks with the media following a day of meetings with foreign counterparts at the White House in Washington on September 24, 2021. Source: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
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  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refuses to commit to phasing out the use of fossil fuels as a major climate conference looms
  • Australia has come under pressure to establish emissions reduction goals ahead of the COP26 United Nations climate conference in Scotland in November
  • Mr Morrison was part of a government that cancelled a carbon pricing scheme after winning the 2013 election
  • However on Friday Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned of much higher borrowing costs if the country fails to commit to a net zero target by 2050
  • His warning came as the International Monetary Fund called on Australia to set a “time bound” target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to commit to phasing out the use of fossil fuels as a major climate conference looms, while his deputy Barnaby Joyce doubled down on his opposition of net zero targets.

One of the world’s top exporters of coal and gas, Australia has come under growing pressure to establish emissions reduction goals ahead of the COP26 United Nations climate conference in Scotland in November.

On Friday, the International Monetary Fund called on Australia to set a “time bound” target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. It came at the same time that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned of much higher borrowing costs if the country fails to commit to a net zero target by 2050, as many other countries have done.

In an interview on SBS on Sunday, Mr Morrison said he was not prepared to pull back the use of fossil fuels immediately.

“We don’t have to, because that change will take place over time,” he said.

“We are working on the transition technologies and fuels, and the ultimate technologies that will be there over the next 20, 30 years that can get us to net zero … This doesn’t happen overnight.”

Mr Morrison was part of a government that cancelled a carbon pricing scheme after winning the 2013 election, while opposing the mechanism as a tax.

His deputy prime minister and climate change sceptic Barnaby Joyce also dug in on Sunday against net zero targets.

“We look at it through the eyes of making sure there is not an unreasonable, or any loss of … regional jobs,” Mr Joyce told the ABC.

The Deputy Prime Minister added that proceeds from mining and agriculture were vital for people in regional towns, which his National party represents to a large degree.

“You’ve got to remember, fossil fuels are your nation’s largest export and if you take away your nation’s largest export, you’ve got to accept a lower standard of living,” Mr Joyce said.

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