Australia’s prime minister on Friday withdrew threats not to attend next month’s historic UN climate summit, describing the meeting as “an important event”.
“I have confirmed my presence at the Glasgow summit, which I look forward to attending,” Scott Morrison told reporters.
Under mounting pressure to adopt more ambitious climate goals, the Conservative leader suggested he not join other heads of government in Scotland’s largest city.
His comments angered climate activists and were seen as a direct diplomatic insult to the UK, a close ally and host of the summit.
In a rare move in politics, Britain’s Prince Charles expressed surprise at Morrison’s reluctance and said it would be a “disaster” if leaders did not take concrete action to stop climate change.
Widely seen as a climate laggard, Australia is one of the world’s largest coal and gas exporters and has long opposed the adoption of a carbon-neutral target.
While Morrison has moved toward setting a target date of 2050 for that goal, he has declined to make the target binding and has committed to the yet more meaningful 2030 emissions reduction target.
The 12-day meeting will be the largest climate summit in Scotland since the historic talks in Paris in 2015, and is seen as an important step in setting emissions targets around the world to slow global warming.
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