This photo taken on Nov. 4, 2021 shows steam rising from the cooling towers of the power plant factories in the town of Singleton, around 70 km (43 miles) from Newcastle, the mosts major coal export port in the world. Saeed Khan | AFP | Images
Days before arriving at Glasgow, Scotland , for what has been billed as an essential gathering on the initiatives "Global for the Climate , The " Prime Minister Australian Scott Morrison announced that his country was adoption " of a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 .
But he added that he would not legislate on the target and instead build on on consumers and businesses to cut emissions.
It was the kind of half-measure climate activists were afraid to post on the Summit " COP26 , the recent United Nations climate talks in Glasgow. They said yes.
"Australia 's ambition for COP26 was to get through it. Do as little as possible, " said Richie "Merzian , who has already spent a decade as a negotiator of the Australian Government's COP and now works as the Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Australia Institute, an independent public policy think tank.
Known affectionately as The Sunburnt Country Due to its vast expanses of dry and arid terrain, Australia has long been criticized as one of the world's major producers of coal and gas, and narrowly escaped labeling the top villain.
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While the country remains a ally "key to United States amid tensions with China , it has done little in recent years to suggest it would be a leading partner in the fight against climate catastrophe, despite its pride in its abundant native wildlife and many envi mental treasures. His actions at the climate conference did little to assuage the concerns of environmentalists.
Critics sayfeels that Australia 's net zero announcement was an empty promise and that the country ' s participation in the world summit has only shown that the current Conservative government is more committed to fossil fuel interests than to tackling climate change in a substantial way.
"They wanted to neutralize the criticism that they are not doing anything about the climate " by showing up but didn't do much beyond that, Merzian said during a telephone interview from Glasgow in the final days of the summit.
David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, was also scathing in his criticism of how Australia performed during the climate summit.
"The position taken by the Morrison government in Glasgow was embarrassing, deeply inadequate and grossly inadequate as the cclimate rise is accelerating before our eyes, "he said in an email from Sydney after the summit.
NBC News has contacted Morrison's office for comment and has Reference was made to public comments by Angus Taylor, Minister of Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction.
"As part of our plan to reach zero net emission by 2050, we will act in a practical and responsible manner to reduce emissions and build on our track record - reducing emissions while growing our economy, maintaining affordable and reliable energy, and ensuring that our regions remain strong. It 's the Australian way, "Taylor a " stated in a joint statement with Marise Payne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, after the climate summit.
Caught between the powerfulfossil fuels and a cascade of natural disasters, climate change has found its place at the heart of Australian politics .
Mining has been a major driving force in the Australian economy since it was a British colony in the early 1800s, but coal production really expanded after WWII and industry is still a major employer in many rural communities.
The country is one of the largest emitters in the world of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis and ranks as the world's third largest exporter of fossil fuels, behind only Russia and Saudi " Arabia .
In Glasgow, Australia was criticized for not signing agreements such as Global "Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement promoted by UK or Global " Methane Pledge led by the United States in an effort to reduce methane emissions.
L Coal power then became a major point of contention in the closing hours of the conference, when delegates from China and India insisted on watering down the final wording of the COP26 agreement and replacing the commitment to" phase out " coal by the term "phase" down. "
And despite the assertion of PremFirst "British Minister Boris Johnson ' that Glasgow had indeed brought " the end of coal-fired power ", Morrison reiterated his country's commitment to the summit, saying that the coal industry will work in Australia for " des " decades to come . "
Australia 's lack of action on the issue sets a bad example for other countries, said Merzian, " instead of pushing the 'ambition like the US and "the UK "
" They cover other latecomers like Russia and Turkey car "They can look at Australia and say, 'Look, if a wealthy industrialized country like Australia doesn't do more toshort term, why should I? ' "he said.
Morrison has long been caught in a political stalemate over climate change.
The partner of his government's coalition, the National Party, is a strong supporter of the coal industry and has repeatedly tried to block the goal of net zero, citing potential risks to the country's economy.
Morrison himself is a well-known promoter in the industry. He contributed a piece " of coal in the Australian Parliament in 2017 and, with his showman flair, praised its value during a renewable energy debate.
"Unfortunately, historically Australia's climate policy, to some extent, has been dictated by the position of historical interests in the oil, gas and coal industry "and that 's why she fell behind It ' s her peersglobal, Christian Downie, associate professor at the Australian National University specializing in energy and climate policy, said ahead of the conference.
At the same time, the country has felt the impact of climate change and this has helped to increase the pressure of some voters for more decisive action.
Sixty percent of those polled said "global warming is a serious and urgent problem" that should be addressed now "even if it involves significant costs , According to a Poll " of May 2021 conducted by the Lowy Institute , an independent think tank in Australia. A young male koala named 'Jan ' is seen in an outdoor koala enclosure at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on September 14, 2020, in Port Macquarie, in Australie.Lisa Maree Williams | Images
Catastrophic forest fires in 2019 -20 destroyed over 44 million acres of land, killed 34 people and caused the loss of nearly 3,000 homes.
Nearly 3 " billion koalas, kangaroos and other native Australian wildlife have been killed or displaced by the wildfires , according to the World Wide Fund For Nature Australia.
And the Great "Barrier Reef , the world's largest coral reef ecosystem, has suffered so much from warming sea temperatures that it has lost half of its corals in just 20 years.
To "the ustralia reacted with anger when the NatUnited ions have threatened to degrade the reef's World Heritage status unless the country does more to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, narrowly avoiding " designation after intensive lobbying.
Still, Australia did rank last out of 60 countries for its political response to the climate crisis in an assessment published at the COP26 summit.
"The country's lack of ambition and action has made its way onto the scene international ", the climate change performance index the " report says . "Australia has fallen behind its allies.
A spokesperson for Taylor, the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, said the Australian government "rejected " the "subjective " "report
Two young climate protesters disrupted operations at the world's largest coal port in Newcastle, Australia on November 17 by rappelling down the massive machines and saying in a live video: "We are the ones responding to the climate crisis.
For Ritter of Greenpeace Australia, it is high time the country stepped onto the world stage.
"Australia 's reckless climate obstruction is as brazen as it is appalling " he said. "A betrayal of our trust and a betrayal of our future.