(CNN)Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday he will travel to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit later this month, marking an about-turn for the leader who previously indicated he might not attend the talks.
Australian leader Scott Morrison will attend COP26 climate summit
Morrison has been under pressure from allies, including the United States, to announce a more ambitious climate pledge, with Australia's target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sitting well below those made by the US, European Union and UK, among other developed nations.
The country is the world's second-biggest exporter of coal and the Morrison government has said it will continue to mine, export and use the fossil fuel well beyond 2030 -- a stance that has increasingly isolated Australia from global efforts to address the crisis.
Although Morrison is expected to unveil Australia's new position on climate change ahead of COP26, he did not detail any new targets at the news conference Friday.
However, Morrison emphasized it is "not just about hitting net zero," referencing a commitment from more than 100 countries which have now set or are considering the target to hit zero emissions by 2050.
"That's an important environmental goal," Morrison said. "But what's important is Australia's economy goes from strength to strength and the livelihoods and the lives that Australians know, particularly in rural and regional areas, are able to go forward with hope, and with confidence, and that's what my plan will be all about."
Last month, Morrison told the West Australian newspaper he hadn't made any final decision on whether to attend the climate talks.
He said he'd already spent multiple weeks in hotel quarantine following other recent trips and needed to focus on the country's reopening after an extended lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.
More than 100 world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have confirmed their attendance at COP26, which starts on October 31. Leaders of the G20, which includes Australia, will be convening in Rome ahead of the talks.
Australia is one of a handful of countries that did not increase its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when registering its official update on its climate plans to the UN last year. It sent its update on December 31 with little fanfare, keeping its target to a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, from 2005 levels.
The Australian Climate Council, which is independent of the government, has suggested the country slash emissions by 75% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, to help contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
More than 190 countries signed up to the Paris Agreement in 2015, in which they committed to trying to contain global warming to 2 degrees -- but preferably 1.5 degrees -- above pre-industrial levels to stave off the more catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis.