The prime minister made the comments on 2GB Radio on Monday, before the release of a Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which is expected to call for a phaseout of coal power generation to help limit temperature rises to 1.5C.
Morrison repeated his claim that Australia would meet its Paris emissions reduction target “in a canter”, despite environment department figures showing emissions increased 1.3% in the year to March 2018, suggesting Australia is likely to miss the target.
Advice from the Energy Security Board has said that a business as usual scenario will mean the electricity sector will “fall short of the emissions reduction target of 26% below 2005 levels” by 2030.
Asked if Australia would be held to the target to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels, Morrison said: “No, we won’t … we’re not held to any of them at all. Nor are we bound to go and tip money into that big climate fund. We’re not going to do that either. I’m not going to spend money on global climate conferences and all that nonsense.”
Australia has contributed $200m to the Green Climate Fund from 2015 to 2018, but the Coalition has come under pressure from One Nation to rule out making further contributions. The fund’s purpose is to help developing countries respond to climate change.
Last week the One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, wrote to Morrison complaining that Australians were not aware when the government signed up to the Paris agreement that it would “lead to organisations like the global climate fund acting like standover men, knocking at our door, telling us to pay up, or else”.
Morrison said when Australia signed an agreement “it means something”, and noted it was not the previous Labor government but rather “our government” that had signed the Paris agreement, a reference to the Coalition government of Tony Abbott.
“This is an enormously important issue to partners in the Pacific who are strategic partners. So my question is: what is to be gained by ripping it up?
“I don’t think there’s much to be gained from ripping it up – it’s not going to affect electricity prices, [the energy minister] Angus Taylor already told you that.” Morrison noted the IPCC report “said a year ago the policies were fine”.
In August Malcolm Turnbull dumped the emissions reduction component of the Coalition government’s national energy guarantee, but was removed as Liberal leader regardless. On taking office as prime minister, Morrison declared the national energy guarantee “dead”, leaving Australia without a mechanism to reach its Paris target.
On Monday Taylor told Sky News that Australia will meet its Paris commitments, claiming it is “well on target” to achieve a 26% reduction in the electricity sector.
Asked how Australia would achieve a 26% reduction overall – including other sectors like transport and agriculture – Taylor did not cite a single policy, instead pointing five times to Australia’s “track record” in meeting Kyoto phase one and two targets.
Australia’s emissions have been rising since the repeal of the carbon tax in 2014 and the Coalition will not renew the renewable energy target in 2020.
Asked if Australia could phase out coal power by 2050, Taylor said the key “is not to focus on an industry it’s to focus on the outcome”. He said Australia produces only 1% of global emissions so “the critical thing” is for developing countries such as China and India to reduce emissions over time.
Earlier, Morrison told 2GB the Paris target of 26% emissions reduction was “not going to touch electricity prices” and “not going to touch one job”.
Asked about the prospect of overturning Australia’s ban on nuclear energy, Morrison replied: “If I thought that this was going to have a big impact on Australia’s electricity prices I will do what is necessary to bring electricity prices down.
“I don’t have any issues about any of these [sort of things] … The issues there are the same issues everywhere – that the investment doesn’t stack up.”
Morrison praised the Hodgman government in Tasmania for the “battery of Australia” project to double pumped hydro capacity.