Australia pledges net-zero emissions by 2050 without taxes or mandates

Australia pledges net-zero emissions by 2050 without taxes or mandates
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Australia has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury without major new legislation restricting fossil fuels, a commitment that brings the country into alignment with its rich peers ahead of the Glasgow climate summit but that was met with environmentalist skepticism.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country would lean on investments in renewable and other clean energy technologies to meet its target and not introduce taxes or other mandates to cut emissions, which other countries have maintained is necessary to meet Paris Agreement aims of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

"We have not and would never make a blank cheque commitment or impose new taxes, as Labor has, to achieve net zero. That would leave Australians footing the bill," Morrison, a member of the Liberal Party, wrote in an opinion column Tuesday, pitching the approach particularly in terms of protecting rural Australia from increased costs.

WORLD IS FAR OFF EMISSIONS GOALS EVEN WITH PLEDGES FROM RICH COUNTRIES, UN SAYS

Details about the plan to reach net zero are sparse, and Morrison indicated that he would reveal more at the United Nations's climate change conference in Glasgow, which begins Sunday.

The announcement comes as other wealthy nations, such as the United States and Japan, pursue more aggressive policies and short-term targets to slash emissions, with the U.N. urging countries to go even bigger.

The Biden administration is targeting at least a 50% cut in emissions by 2030, while Japan is targeting a 46% reduction. Australia did not update its 2030 target but rather stuck with the target set in 2015 of a 26% cut, although its government maintains that it is set to reach a 30%-35% reduction by then.

Critics of the announcement maintained it lacked ambition and detail.

"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," said Kelly O'Shanassy, chief executive officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

"I've seen more detailed fortune cookies than the document released by the government today," said Chris Bowen, who is shadow minister of climate for Australia's Labor Party.

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Australia was the world's second-largest coal exporter in 2019 behind Indonesia, and it has gained additional business this year from China. Morrison said he wanted to maintain its mining operations "to stay open, remain competitive, and adapt so they remain viable for as long as global demand allows."

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Tags: News, Energy and Environment, Australia, Carbon, Fossil Fuels

Original Author: Jeremy Beaman

Original Location: Australia pledges net-zero emissions by 2050 without taxes or mandates

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