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Australia sets net zero emissions target for 2050

October 26, 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country will reduce emissions 35% below 2005 levels by 2030, but critics point out a lack of concrete plans.

Climate protest Australia
Australia said it will target net zero carbon emissions by 2050Image: Jill Gralow/Reuters

Australia is set to reduce emissions 35% below 2005 levels by 2030, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday. 

The country, however, did not outline a strategy for achieving the goal and will not commit to such a target at the United Nations climate conference in Scotland later this week.

As one of the world's top producers of coal and gas, Australia has long been under fire for its climate policy. It refused to join other countries in pledging to meet the net zero carbon emissions target ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

The country on Tuesday said it will not pass legislation on the goal. Instead, Australia will rely on consumers and companies to drive emission reductions. The government said it will achieve the target through technology development, with an investment worth 20 billion Australian dollars (€12.93 billion, $15 billion) aimed at reducing costs of technologies such as clean hydrogen.

Mounting political pressure

"Australians want action on climate change. They’re taking action on climate change, but they also want to protect their jobs and their livelihoods. They also want to keep the costs of living down," Morrison told reporters, in an attempt to allay fears amongst domestic industries about negative results of reducing emissions.

Australia school climate protest
Young people in Australia have been protesting government inaction on climate changeImage: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

The Australian leader has been under political pressure over climate change. While a wider section of the population wants to see action on climate change, Morrison needs the support of rural voters, many of whom oppose the measures required to reduce emissions.

A recent poll released Monday showed Morrison is on course to lose to the center-left Labor party in an election that must take place by May next year.

Too little, too late

However, critics said the plan does not prepare the country's economy for a rapidly evolving world.

"Unless the government sets the wheels in motion to cut our emissions in half by 2030, it is making climate change worse and turning its back on the opportunities," said chief executive officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Kelly O'Shanassy.

"Australia cannot keep relying on coal and gas exports because these industries are on the way out, and if those workers are not helped with the transition, they will be left high and dry."

see/aw (Reuters, AP)