CANBERRA - Australia will spend A$539.2 million ($420.25 million) to develop hydrogen and carbon capture projects, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.
One of the world's largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis, Australia faces growing pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions as U.S. President Joe Biden holds a climate summit this week.
Morrison has so far resisted global calls to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, but on Wednesday he promised additional spending on low emission technology as part of the next annual budget, to be unveiled next month.
"I want Australia and hydrogen technology to be synonymous around the world," he told reporters in the Central Coast region of New South Wales state.
Morrison said A$275.5 million would go to speed development of four additional clean hydrogen hubs and implement a clean hydrogen certification scheme. The rest will fund development of carbon capture and storage projects.
The plans are part of Canberra's pledge to spend A$18 billion over the next 10 years on technologies to cut carbon emissions and meet its climate ambitions.
The Paris Accord commits Australia to cut carbon emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels, by 2030. The government expects a achieve 29% reduction under a plan to invest A$18 billion in technology this decade.
Wary of alienating climate sceptics in his ruling Liberal party, Morrison has tiptoed towards strengthening Australia's climate ambitions.
But it remains to be seen if the change in rhetoric will placate 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=1.2830 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Jane Merriman and Clarence Fernandez) ((email@example.com; +61-2 9321 8161; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))