Australia has agreed to adopt a revised deal on climate change action following the conclusion of the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
The Glasgow Climate Pact aimed to establish an international agreement to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees celsius and avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
Current pledges, including new agreement outcomes from the conference, are predicted to limit warming to 2.4 degrees celsius.
Australia joined the Glasgow Breakthroughs Initiative at the conference, which sets global goals to make clean technologies the most affordable and accessible option before 2030.
Objections from India prompted a last-minute change in the wording of the agreement, which now requires nations to “phase down” rather than “phase out” fossil fuels.
Despite concerns from the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including small Pacific Island countries, Australian Government leaders welcomed the watered-down agreement.
Nationals Senator, Matt Canavan, said that the weakened deal was a “green light” to continue Australia’s investment in coal.
“(The deal) is a great result for Australia and our coal industry, which people like to say is dead and buried, but it keeps resurrecting and going strong,” Mr Canavan told the Nine Network.
However, New South Wales Treasurer, Matt Kean, told the Guardian that the new agreement would make investments in coal more difficult.
“Glasgow just accelerated where the market was already going,” Mr Kean said.
“The fossil fuel industry is going to find it harder to get insurance, raise capital or refinance their operations.”
Climate Council Head of Research, Dr Simon Bradshaw, said COP26 doubled down on Australia’s reputation as a climate change laggard.
“The Federal Government showed up empty-handed to a pivotal moment in the fight for our future,” Dr Bradshaw said.
“They’ve let down our Pacific neighbours, as well as Australians who do not deserve to endure more frequent and severe bushfires, floods, droughts and heatwaves.
“As our allies and trading partners rise to the climate challenge, we’re stuck in a polluting past with a handful of countries including Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“The Government’s own net zero modelling predicts Australia will still be a major coal and gas exporter in 2050.”
COP27 will be held in Egypt in 2022, rather than in five years’ time, as originally planned.
The upcoming conference aims to encourage countries to set more ambitious emissions reductions targets before 2030.