Australia sets target for net-zero emissions by 2050

SYDNEY: Australia, one of the world’s top per-capita polluters, finally agreed to a plan to zero out its carbon emissions by 2050.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the target days before he is scheduled to head to Europe for G-20 talks and then the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

It follows a new round of fractious domestic debate on climate policy, an issue that’s riven Australia’s politics for more than a decade and comes after pressure from allies including the United States on Australia to show more urgency in action to limit global warming.

“We will set a target to achieve net zero by 2050, and have a clear plan for achieving it,” Morrison said in an emailed statement.

“We won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia. The Australian way is all about how you do it, and not if you do it. It’s about getting it done.”

The government will stick with 2030 goals that have been criticised by activists and business leaders alike as too weak, adding to the sense that timid pledges from developed nations are stifling prospects for major progress at the climate talks.

Morrison yesterday reiterated that Australia was on track to “meet and beat” its target and that he would provide an update on progress in Glasgow.

Australia is one of the top suppliers of fossil fuels, and the sector accounts for almost a quarter of its export earnings.

The nation is being looked at to help show leadership that’ll encourage developing countries to step up their efforts.

Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, on Saturday pledged to a goal to hit net zero by 2060.

Morrison has frequently ruled out taxes for polluters, and backed the country’s top emitters to devise the best solutions to help Australia hit net zero.

His government also hasn’t ruled out subsidising new coal-fired power stations, with the fuel still responsible for the bulk of the nation’s electricity generation.

That’s a blow for COP president Alok Sharma, who has struggled to win momentum for his ambition to “consign coal to history.”

Nations like Australia and China, which is lifting coal output to ease an energy crisis, have resisted calls to more quickly phase out their own consumption of the fuel. — Bloomberg

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