Anthony Albanese has avoided a question about Labor’s support for coal and gas projects after he chose to skip a major climate summit.
Independent MP Zali Steggall asked the Prime Minister during question time in parliament on Thursday if the federal government would stop funding and approving fossil fuel projects.
Mr Albanese responded by criticising the Coalition and saying Labor’s climate legislation had resulted in Australia being “welcomed back” by global leaders to the fight against climate change.
He said the world needed to move towards renewables as the “cheapest and cleanest” form of energy production.
But he didn’t say anything about Labor’s ongoing support for new fossil fuel projects.
Ms Steggall said the Albanese government’s legislated target of a 43 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 2005 levels by 2030 was “inadequate” and put the planet on track to warm by three degrees.
Mr Albanese was in Canberra this week after choosing not to attend the United Nations COP27 global climate talks in Egypt.
Mr Albanese — who savaged Scott Morrison when the former prime minister deliberated over whether to attend COP26 in Glasgow — defended his own decision to snub this year’s event by saying he “can’t be everywhere at once”.
Mr Albanese said he wanted to focus on passing legislation at home and preparing for next week’s ASEAN, APEC and G20 meetings in Cambodia, Thailand and Bali.
He told parliament on Thursday he was looking forward to discussing climate policy with world leaders at these summits.
“I am optimistic that the world can move. I want Australia to be a part of that and my government’s commitment is to do just that,” he said.
Labor continues to back new coal and gas projects in Australia as well as throwing its support behind a transition to renewable energy.
Mr Albanese in September told the mining industry that Australia would remain a reliable supplier of gas and coal, as well as clean energy alternatives.
Earlier this year, Labor government rejected the Greens’ demand for a moratorium on new coal and gas projects during negotiations over the legislation to enshrine Australia’s emissions reduction targets.
In Mr Albanese’s absence at the COP27 this week, the federal government was represented by International Development Minister Pat Conroy, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and assistant minister Jenny McAllister.
Mr Conroy met with Pacific leaders, ministers, heads of regional organisations and other representatives at the summit, including the prime ministers of Cook Islands and Tonga
He said Australia’s “new approach” to climate change had been welcomed at the conference.
Australia will jointly bid with Pacific nations to host the COP31 summit in 2026.
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