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With less than one week left until COP26, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has moved his government to the left on climate change, committing for the first time to a net zero target by 2050, but questions remain about the details and many remain frustrated by Morrison’s refusal to include a more ambitious 2030 target in the nation’s long-awaited climate plan. Indeed, absent concrete plans for this decade, Australia remains at the back of the parade among wealthy nations committed to net-zero.The land down under is set to enter the international conference with the weakest climate plan of the G20’s advanced nations.
Morrison entered office as a climate obstructionist and promoter of coal. But climate change has recently become an animating issue in Australian politics, particularly with young voters and those outraged by devastating climate exacerbated droughts and wildfires. Morrison faces a competitive reelection campaign expected in the spring of 2022. The opposition Labour Party has pledged 74% reductions in GHG by mid-century. Just this month, Morrison announced he would attend COP26 in-person following a year of lockdown in Australia.
Why This Matters: Morrison’s announcement is progress for a longtime hold-out nation, but the jury is out and how much progress, and how fast.Australia is responsible for just over 1% of total global emissions but has some of the highest per capita emissions in the world. It is also the world’s second-largest exporter of coal. In March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the world to slash coal use by 80% by 2030 to stand a chance of limiting global temperature rise and meeting net-zero emissions by 2050. But Prime Minister Morrison, had dug deeper into a fossil fuel economy instead of activating a rapid shift to clean energy. Without stronger commitments from Australia, China, and India, meeting the UN’s goals on coal is impossible. .
Devil in the Details
In his announcement, Morrison said he “won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia.” He says that the unveiled plan, titled The Australian Way, will propel Australia toward net zero while preserving its economy, limiting tax raises and new legislation, and increasing investment in sustainable sectors. He is pledging a AU$20 billion investment into “low-emissions technologies” over the next 20 years, which his government says will encourage up to AU$100 billion in private investment.
“Our plan works with Australians to achieve this goal,” Morrison explained. “Our plan enables them, it doesn’t legislate, it doesn’t mandate, it doesn’t force them. It respects them and understands that Australians want to do this … they want to protect their industries.”
Still, the new pathway contains no plan to limit fossil fuel use, and their 2030 emissions reduction commitment sits at 26% below 2005 levels — about half of the US 2030 commitment. Critics also say the plan relies heavily on unspecified “technology breakthroughs” and carbon offsets and doesn’t contain enough details to be implemented effectively. “The word plan doesn’t constitute a plan no matter how many times you say it,” said Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
By WW0 Staff For the United States, the post-Trump, pre-COP26 road to Glasgow has been paved with ambition and humility. In a major speech, the President’s Envoy, John Kerry, previewed the results of his climate diplomacy before heading into two weeks of intense deliberations of world leaders. Speaking at the London School of Economics — […]
Next week, the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will draw hundreds of world leaders to Glasgow to determine the path forward five years after the Paris Climate Agreement (for a primer, read this) as new science underscores the urgency. The conference aims to squeeze countries to strengthen the commitments they’ve made towards securing global net-zero […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In a report released last week, the Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that existing risks and security challenges in the US are being made worse due to “increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Now, the Pentagon is […]
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