Australia announces plan to reach net-zero but controversially refuses to set short-term goals

‘The plan has the prosperity and well-being of regional Australia at its core’

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 26 October 2021 10:55
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Related: Future Fossil Fuel Production Will Continue To Exceed Safe Climate Limits, UN Report Finds

Australia has promised to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, joining a host of developed countries, as scrutiny increased on its massive fossil fuel sector.

The plan, announced by the government on Tuesday, comes a week before the UN’s Conference of Parties (COP26) summit, where there would have been increased pressure on the country to announce its long-awaited climate action plans.

Prime minister Scott Morrison had already said the country does not intend to put an end to its massive fossil fuel sector. The plan also does not include any emission reduction target for 2030.

“Australia now has a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and we have a clear plan for achieving it,” Mr Morrison said in a government statement released on Tuesday following negotiations with MPs.

“The plan has the prosperity and well-being of regional Australia at its core,” he added. “We have an opportunity to act now to harness existing regional strengths, unlock new areas of growth, and diversify economic activity in regions. We will invest in rural and regional Australia to ensure it succeeds and is protected under the plan.”

Under the new net-zero plan, the government plans to invest A$20bn (£11bn) between now and the end of the decade on the development of low emissions technologies.

The plan includes increasing investment in green technology but rules out taxes or a legislated mechanism for emissions as “these regressive approaches would impose costs on households, businesses and regions least able to afford them”.

It said the intention was to reduce Australia’s emissions while keeping the “economy growing, maintaining affordable, reliable energy, and ensuring our regions remain strong”.

Under the Paris accord, nations have pledged to limit the rising temperature to less than 2C by 2050. It requires nations to set carbon neutrality targets, also referred to as net-zero, which stands for a state of cleaning as much greenhouse gases as the country emits.

There has been increased pressure on Australia to put curbs on its fossil fuel industry as the country continues to be a leading producer and supplier of coal and gas.

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