Washington: Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has hailed Australia as a global leader on climate change while echoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s rhetoric about the importance of countries “meeting and beating” their climate targets.
A day after meeting with Morrison at the US Capitol, Pelosi, widely described as the most powerful woman in US political history, singled out Australia for praise while discussing climate change at a briefing with US congressional reporters.
“The Prime Minister of Australia, Morrison, he was saying, ‘We’re not only addressing the Paris Accords – our slogan is we meet it and we beat it’,” Pelosi said.
“So they’re leading the way and that’s what we all have to do …”
Pelosi’s praise defies any expectations that Morrison would face public criticism from Democrats for failing to set sufficiently ambitious climate targets during his trip to the United States.
At the previous day’s meeting, Pelosi mentioned climate change and told Morrison “thank you for your leadership in that regard”.
In the lead up to US President Joe Biden’s climate summit in April, the Biden administration described Australia’s current climate targets as “insufficient” and said they wanted to see more ambition from the Morrison government.
In a marked contrast to his 2019 visit to Washington, Morrison has sought to foreground climate change in his public remarks. The Prime Minister is aware that, unlike for previous president Donald Trump, the issue is a top priority for Biden and congressional Democrats.
Before his meeting with Biden this week, Morrison said the US and Australia were working together to address the “global challenges of climate change” and “a new energy economy”.