British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Scott Morrison that Australia was denied the opportunity to speak at last year’s climate summit because he wanted to encourage nations to set more ambitious emissions reduction targets.
Mr Johnson, who is rallying the world’s leading economies towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050, explained his rationale in a letter to the Australian Prime Minister in December last year while acknowledging the domestic political challenge over climate policy.
Mr Johnson had originally invited Mr Morrison to speak at the December 12 summit but later walked away from the offer amid a behind-the-scenes diplomatic tussle over whether Australia’s climate change policies were insufficient to warrant a speaking slot.
Mr Morrison had planned to use his speech to announce that Australia would drop its controversial plan to use Kyoto carryover credits to achieve its 2030 emissions reduction targets.
In correspondence between the pair, tabled in Senate estimates on Monday evening, Mr Johnson said he welcomed Mr Morrison’s personal commitment to net zero emissions and looked forward to Australia setting a “time-bound commitment” and an “ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution” next year.
“I recognise how complex these issues are domestically, and your own personal stake in this,” Mr Johnson wrote.
“It is impressive that Australia has overachieved on its previous target; delivering on our promises is as important as making them.“
Mr Johnson has directed British government departments to come up with options for carbon border levies ahead of several major international summits, which he believes could act as a global emissions trading scheme as the world strives to hit net zero emissions by 2050.