Australia PM, criticised on climate, urges firms to curb costs

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks as National Statements are delivered as a part of the World Leaders' Summit at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, facing growing domestic and global disapproval of his climate policies, urged multinational companies on Saturday to start offering cheaper and more sustainable solutions to combat climate change.

Pressure intensified this week after Morrison's government announced financial aid https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/australia-set-up-740-mln-fund-develop-low-emissions-technology-2021-11-09 to support electric vehicles that some critics said came far short of what is needed.

Australia, one of world's top producers of coal and gas, was named the "colossal fossil" of the United Nations COP26 climate talks in Glasgow on Friday by Climate Action Network activists for "its appalling approach to climate change policy."

Morrison told The Age newspaper that businesses should change their "corporate mindset", drive down costs to help stop climate change and stop relying on taxpayer subsidies.

"Consumers' choices I think are pretty clear now, and the corporate sector has got to change their mindset," Morrison said.

"There are 20 million people in Australia, we're an affluent society and economy," he said. "You sell us a car at the right price and we'll buy it."

Morrison last month adopted a target https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/australia-unveil-2050-net-zero-target-ahead-un-climate-summit-2021-10-26 of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but said he would not legislate that goal, instead relying on consumers and companies to drive emission reductions.

His government also rejected a global pledge, led by the European Union and the United States, to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

Morrison said governments cannot solve the emissions reduction issue through imposing mandates or through the pricing of carbon.

"The world's companies are going to solve this problem because they're the ones who make electric cars," Morrison said. "The governments don't do any of those things.

"That doesn't mean government doesn't have a role, of course it does, but it's not the answer. It's helping support the answer. And ultimately, consumer choice will drive it."

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard)

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