Government gets more ambitious about climate change, officially

By Chris Johnson

June 16, 2022

Prime minister Anthony Albanese (r) and climate change minister Chris Bowen announce their commitment to addressing climate change. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The federal government has updated the United Nations on Australia’s commitment to being more ambitious about tackling climate change.

Anthony Albanese and his climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen formalised Australia’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.

They did this by conveying the pledge on Thursday to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); updating targets to the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

The UN was told that Australia will be on track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The ousting of the Coalition government in the recent federal election was partly due to its recalcitrance over climate change action.

Scott Morrison produced little policy aimed at reducing emissions. And although he signed up to the 2050 target, the Nationals dismissed and blocked any move to increase Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target.

The attitude led to international condemnation of Australia’s climate change position and the UN describing Australia as a ‘holdout’.

But when parliament resumes in the last week of July, Albanese’s Labor government will seek to enshrine new targets in legislation.

“The new target reflects my government’s resolve to urgently step up the pace of action, and work alongside global partners and particularly with our Pacific family, to tackle the climate crisis and keep 1.5 degrees within reach,” the PM said.

“Our Powering Australia plan will support the transition to renewable energy, including investing in the transmission and storage needed to balance the grid.”

The prime minister said the move will provide the certainty industry and investors have been seeking.

The government hopes its plan will create more than 604,000 jobs, with five out of six new jobs to be created in the regions, as well as result in a $76 billion of investment. 

Albanese said the government will not use over‑achievement, or carryover, from Australia’s 2020 and Kyoto Protocol targets to meet its Paris Agreement targets.

Bowen described the world’s climate emergency as Australia’s jobs opportunity.

“With the right ambition, action and cooperation, Australia can seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity ahead of us and thrive in a net zero world,” Bowen said.

“The government will be working in collaboration with states and territories, industry, community groups and the Australian people to drive down emissions while ensuring secure, affordable energy supplies.”

“The current crisis in the east coast energy market, highlights how the nation needs a long-term plan and that it is more important than ever to invest in renewable energy sources, and that’s exactly what our government will do.”

The government’s climate change policies include:

  • A $20 billion investment in Australia’s electricity grid to accelerate the decarbonisation of the grid;
  • An additional $300 million to deliver community batteries and solar banks across Australia;
  • The introduction of declining emission baselines for Australia’s major emitters, under the existing Safeguard Mechanism;
  • A national electric vehicle strategy, to reduce emissions and accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles;
  • Double existing investment to $500 million in electric vehicle charging and establish hydrogen refuelling infrastructure;
  • The application of new standardised and internationally-aligned reporting requirements for climate risks and opportunities for large businesses;
  • A commitment to reducing the emissions of commonwealth government agencies to net zero by 2030;
  • Restoring the role of the Climate Change Authority; and
  • A bid to host a future Conference of the Parties in Australia, with an offer to Pacific partner countries to co-host.

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