On Tuesday, Australia’s prime minister announced plans to encourage people to buy electric vehicles weeks after his government was accused at a UN conference in Scotland of being a laggard in fighting climate change. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the price of the technology would reduce in time and offered no subsidies to buyers of electric cars.

“The costs of technology are coming down, and that means the choices available to Australians and right around the world are becoming more accessible, so our plans are all about supporting those choices,” Morrison said.

“Our plans aren’t about sending a lot of taxpayers’ money off to big multinationals to get costs down. They’ll do that themselves. They have a keen interest in doing that,” he added.

The 250 million Australian dollars ($185 million) plan would partner with private enterprises to accelerate the rollout of 50,000 charging and hydrogen refuelling stations.

The conservative government expects that would result in 30 per cent of new passenger and light commercial truck sales in Australia being battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric by 2030.

Less than two percent of new vehicles sold in Australia are electric. The transport sector is a primary reason why Australia is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitters on a per capita basis.

Electric vehicle groups expressed disappointment at the policy.

Electric Vehicles Council chief executive Behyad Jafari, an advocate for the electric vehicle industry in Australia, described the policy as a “fizzer” that lacked initiatives to boost uptake.

The opposition centre-left Labour Party went to the last election in 2019 with a target of 50 per cent of new cars being electric by 2030.

Morrison argued at the time that Labour’s policy would “end the weekend” because electric vehicles could not move towboats and caravans or replace SUVs.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said that if Labour wins elections due by May, his government will make electric vehicles cheaper by reducing taxes.

“The government …, during the last campaign, said that electric vehicles would ‘end the weekend,’ and now … in the lead-up to an election campaign, they want you to believe that now electric vehicles are all okay and they want to encourage uptake,” Albanese said.

“Well, they can’t have it both ways. This is a government that is scared of change,” he added.

At the UN climate conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, Morrison committed Australia to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

But he was widely criticized for leaving Australia’s 2030 target unchanged at the relatively modest aim of reducing emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent below 2005 levels. Other countries have made steeper commitments.

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