Boris Johnson asks Scott Morrison to take ‘bold action’ on climate change

Boris Johnson asks Scott Morrison to take ‘bold action’ on climate change


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London: Boris Johnson has encouraged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take "bold action" on climate change during a phone call in which the British leader stressed the need for "ambitious targets" to reach net-zero emissions.

The pair also discussed how to best respond to the rise of China, and the details of an impending post-Brexit free trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom.

Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson spoke over the phone on Tuesday evening.Credit:

A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson used the Tuesday evening call to "emphasise the importance of setting ambitious targets to cut emissions and reach net zero".

"The Prime Minister stressed that we need bold action to address climate change, noting that the UK's experience demonstrates that driving economic growth and reducing emissions can go hand-in-hand."

The UK has largely phased out coal but relies on nuclear energy for a substantial portion of its electricity generation.

Johnson earlier this month pledged to use offshore wind to power every house in the UK by 2030, and in 2019 the government passed laws binding Britain to a target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Morrison has previously said it is "absolutely achievable" for Australia to reach net zero emissions but will not put a date on that target. He last month unveiled a "technology road map" to guide Australia's transition away from fossil fuels.

The Tory leader has welcomed China’s pledge to reduce emissions to net zero by 2060 and embraced Japan’s recent announcement of a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Johnson was not thought to be singling out Australia for criticism in Tuesday's phone call and has made similar requests for ambitious action to other world leaders ahead of the delayed United Nations climate summit in Glasgow next year, known as COP26.

However there are members of the government who believe Australia is not doing enough to lower its emissions. Britain is also using free trade deals with countries like Australia to push its low-emissions message.

The two leaders agreed to intensify the partnership between the UK and Australia on "developing and scaling up green technologies". Johnson is impressed with Australia's solar industry and also believes Australia could learn from advances in the UK's wind sector.

Morrison's office is yet to issue its own summary of Tuesday's phone call.

Renewable energy last year overtook fossil fuels to become Britain's largest source of electricity. About 48.5 per cent of its energy came from zero carbon technology, while coal, gas and oil crashed to just 43 per cent – down from 75.5 per cent in 1990.

Coal represented just 2.1 per cent of Britain's overall electricity output last year. By comparison, black and brown coal fuelled 74 per cent of Australia's energy mix in 2018.

In a reference to China, the Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson and Morrison "agreed on the importance of like-minded states working together to tackle global issues, including building open societies, strengthening democratic values and boosting free and fair trade".

They also resolved to "work at pace" on securing a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia.

Negotiations formally commenced in June and could potentially be concluded by the end of the year.

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