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Australia promises $437 mln for low emission technology

(Updates after announcement of funding, adds quote from Australian prime minister)

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA, April 22 (Reuters) – Australia will spend A$565.8 million ($436.5 million) to co-fund research and pilot projects in green technologies, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday, as Canberra seeks to illustrate its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

One of the world’s largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis, Australia is under mounting pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions as U.S. President Joe Biden holds a climate summit this week.

While Morrison has resisted global calls to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, citing the risk of damage to Australia’s economy, on Thursday he promised co-investment worth A$565.8 million with partners from Britain, Japan, Korea and Germany.

“Getting new energy technologies to parity will enable substantial reductions in global emissions – in both developing and developed countries – and ensure countries don’t have to choose between growth and decarbonisation,” Morrison said in an emailed statement.

“But Australia won’t be able to make these technologies globally scalable and commercially viable all on our own.”

A source familiar with the plans said the co-investment partners include governments and private companies.

Morrison said international partners will invest between three and five times the amount Australia will spend on the research and pilot programmes.

The spending, which will be allocated from Australia’s budget to be unveiled next month, is the latest outlay to be revealed from Canberra’s A$18 billion fund established to invest in low-emission technology to meet its climate pledges.

The global Paris Accord commits Australia to cutting carbon emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels, by 2030. The government expects to achieve a 29% reduction through its A$18 billion expenditure on technology over this decade.

Initial details of how Australia plans to use the $18 billion came on Wednesday when Morrison said his government would spend A$539.2 million to develop hydrogen and carbon capture projects.

But it remains to be seen if this will satisfy the United States.

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his diplomats would challenge countries whose inaction thwarted efforts to fight climate change.

($1 = 1.2963 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Colin Packham Editing by Mark Heinrich and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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