Australia advances major climate legislation
Long criticized for ignoring the harmful effects of climate change, Australia — the world’s third-largest fossil fuel exporter — took a major step toward cutting its emissions.
The country’s Lower House of Parliament passed a bill that commits the government to reducing carbon emissions by at least 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and reaching net zero by 2050. It is expected to pass through the Senate in a few weeks.
“The impact of climate change is real. We need a response which is real,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who campaigned on the commitment when he challenged the long-governing conservative coalition in a May election. “The government is offering that.”
But the move is widely seen as long overdue. A separate proposal pitched by the Australian Greens that would have required a 75 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 was rejected. The leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, has argued that the government’s lower target will lead to the demise of the Great Barrier Reef, which is expected to continue struggling under current warming trends.
The 43 percent pledge brings Australia closer to reductions promised by Canada, South Korea and Japan, while still falling short of commitments from the U.S., the E.U. and Britain.