Energy & Environment

Australia says it’ll rely on consumers, companies to drive emissions reductions instead of legislation

Aaron Schwartz

Australia’s government says it will rely on consumers and companies to reduce emissions and not legislation as it seeks to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia would reach its goal via technology instead of changes to the law, according to Reuters

Australia, one of the world’s top producers of coal and gas, has been the subject of some backlash after it refused to pledge to meet this goal before the United Nations climate conference next week in Glasgow, Scotland.

Morrison framed his government’s decision as an effort to balance jobs and the economy with climate action.

“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 said to reporters in Canberra, per Reuters.

Morrison is up for reelection in May, and the new effort could help him with rural voters, Reuters noted. Though polls show the broader Australian population wants to see more action on emission reductions, rural communities tend to be opposed to such changes, Reuters noted.

But Reuters added that a poll on Monday indicated that Morrison was still on track to lose the election to the center-left Labor Party.

One part of Morrison’s plan is to use $15 billion in government funding to reduce the costs of technologies like clean hydrogen to increase their use, Reuters added. 

Some critics said that Morrison’s plan needed to be strengthened to benefit the country in the long-term.

“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,” Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said to Reuters.

Globally, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a record high last year despite temporary declines during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time that this record was reported, the United Nations climate office also noted that the world remains off target for its goal of cutting emissions in an effort to reduce global warming.


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