Australia submits a more ambitious emission target for 2030 to the UN

Australia’s new center-left government set more ambitious emissions targets at the United Nations on Thursday, seeking to end a decade of climate change misery.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese raised the country’s emissions reduction target by 2030 to 43%, from a more modest previous target of 26-28%.

The new goal “sets Australia up for a future of prosperity, a future fueled by cleaner, cheaper energy,” Albanese said.

Despite the fact that Australia has been devastated by floods, fires and droughts, Australia has long been seen as lagging behind in climate action.

The vast continent-country is full of fossil fuel deposits and is one of the world’s leading exporters of coal and gas.

Coal continues to play a key role in domestic electricity generation.

In 2022, MIT ranked Australia 52nd out of 76 nations in the Green Future Index, which scores how countries are moving towards an environmentally sustainable economy.

– The “climate wars” –

But Albanese made broadcast cuts at the heart of his recent election campaign and promised to “end the climate wars” that have led to decades of political stagnation.

Albanese tried to describe the decision as an economic benefit: “What companies are shouting about is investment certainty,” he said.

The Australian Business Council welcomed the increased targets, saying “it should be a line in the sand”.

“Australia can not afford to stop making progress again because failure will lead Australians to lose new opportunities, new industries and better jobs,” said board executive Jennifer Westakot.

– ‘Take the opportunity’ –

Albanese said on Thursday that world leaders “welcomed the change in Australia’s position” on climate action during talks with them since taking office last month.

The issue of declining emissions and fossil fuel exports has been a major point of tension between the previous Australian government and Pacific leaders, who have described climate change as the biggest threat to their region.

Albanese sought to circumvent criticism that higher targets could hurt jobs in Australia, saying he wanted to “seize the opportunity to take action on climate change”.

The new targets will give businesses the confidence they needed to “invest in more time than the three-year political cycle,” he said.

So far, however, it has refused to set a deadline for phasing out coal, according to other rich countries.

Even before the announcement, Australia’s fossil fuel industry was in full swing with many large companies seeking to launch their carbon offsets.

On Wednesday, global mining company BHP announced that it could not find a buyer for its coal mines in the Australian state of New South Wales and will close the project by 2030.

The news came just a day after fossil fuel giant BP announced it would acquire a 40.5% stake in a renewable energy project in Australia, which is described as the largest power plant on earth.

Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath, executive vice president of BP for low-carbon gas and low-carbon energy, said the company believes “Australia has the potential to be a force in the global energy transition”.

mmc / arb / ssy

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