Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared to directly criticise the message of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg overnight, claiming to the United Nations General Conference that vested interests are working to “facelessly exploit” young campaigners while the media misrepresents Australia’s contribution to the cause.
In a catch-all speech, Morrison told the diplomatic gathering that Australia was doing its fair share of work to reduce greenhouse emissions, despite the government’s decision not to announce updated emission reduction targets at Monday’s Climate Action Summit.
“Australia’s internal and global critics on climate change willingly overlook or ignore our achievements, as the facts simply don’t fit the narrative they wish to project about our contribution,” Morrison said.
He backed Australia’s current pledge to reduce carbon emissions by between 26% and 28% from 2005 levels by 2030, despite other developed nations recently announcing more ambitious pledges in the face of a looming climate catastrophe.
Morrison called Australia’s current benchmarks “a credible, fair, responsible and achievable contribution to global climate change action.”
Currently, Australia is responsible for 1.3% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, Australia is one of the most aggressive polluters on a per-capita basis; University of Melbourne research shows Australia ranks well above China, India, and the United States in carbon emissions for each resident.
The Prime Minister, whose government has backed the creation of the controversial and enormous Adani Carmichael coal mine project, said Australia only accounts for 5.5% of the planet’s coal extraction.
Echoing sentiments he expressed to reporters earlier in the week, Morrison urged commentators to express positivity about the climate and Australia’s emission reduction policies, lest too many young people start spinning out.
“We must respect and harness the passion and aspiration of our younger generations, rather than allow others to compound or, worse, facelessly exploit their anxiety for their own agendas,” Morrison said, without providing evidence, echoing the sentiments of some particularly suspicious Australian columnists.
While world leaders should “not allow their concerns to be dismissed or diminished as this can also increase their anxiety,” Morrison urged folks to just let kids enjoy their childhoods – another apparent reference to Thunberg, who said her childhood had been “stolen” by current climate policies.
“Above all, we should let our kids be kids – teenagers be teenagers – while we work positively together to deliver practical solutions for them and their future,” Morrison said.
If you want, you can cop his full speech below. Fair warning: it’s not too much we haven’t heard before from a man who once brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives.