Morrison’s determination to stick to Australia’s weak, increasingly implausible 2030 target came under serious pressure at President Biden’s climate summit in April. Morrison’s argument of “how” not “when” Australia gets to net zero missed the point. For Biden, it is a question of when as well as how. This is not just about the climate science. The United States sees itself in a race against China for clean energy supremacy in the net-zero emissions world. Secretary of state Antony Blinken made this clear shortly before the Biden summit. “It’s difficult to imagine the United States winning the long-term strategic competition with China if we cannot lead the renewable energy revolution,” he told reporters. “Right now, we’re falling behind. China is the largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric vehicles. It holds nearly a third of the world’s renewable energy patents. If we don’t catch up, America will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects our interests and values, and we’ll lose out on countless jobs for the American people.”
Biden, like the Europeans, wants to spend big to back the rapid shift to clean energy. US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm underscored the new urgency in Washington when she announced at the summit a US goal to slash the cost of “clean renewable hydrogen” by 80 per cent by 2030, making it competitive with natural gas.