Australia’s government said on Tuesday that it would achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050, after months of discussion and delay. The plan is based on optimism and investment in low-emission technology, and will be implemented gradually.
Jobs were promised, but no new taxes or regulations were included in the proposal. This was a big component of what scientists have stated would be required from global leaders at next week’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, which will take place next week. Even in the face of international criticism, Australia has indicated that it would not reduce its overreliance on coal and natural gas.
Both play a significant part in Australia’s electrical grid as well as in the country’s subsidised exports. Following the release of the plan on Tuesday, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison described as “uniquely Australian,” the country’s reliance on fossil fuels will continue, prompting critics to claim that he will be arriving in Scotland for the climate conference with an outdated status quo wrapped up in a new package.
In the words of Richie Merzian, head of climate and energy policy at the Australian Institute, a progressive research group, “This is an update on the marketing materials used by the federal government to say it is doing something when it is actually doing nothing new.” “It’s a little bit absurd.”
Despite the fact that Australia contributes less than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, its climate policies have substantial sway since it is a coal giant and the world’s third-largest exporter of fossil fuels, as per the Energy Agency. At the same time, the nation is becoming more exposed to the effects of climate change. Australian surface temperatures have increased by 1.4 degrees Celsius on average since 1910, outpacing the world average by a factor of two. Fires, droughts, and cyclones have all grown more often and severe in recent years.
According to climatologists, if global temperatures continue on their current trajectory, which is what world leaders who have made more ambitious commitments are attempting to avoid, Australia will experience major ecosystem loss in its oceans, higher food prices as a result of severe drought, and hundreds of thousands of coastal properties at risk of flooding, among other consequences.
On Tuesday, when he arrived in Canberra, the nation’s capital, to unveil his plan with Angus Taylor, the minister for industry, energy, and carbon reduction, Mr. Morrison made no mention of these dangers.
Deputy Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that Australia was on track to meet its Paris Agreement target of cutting emissions by 30 to 35 percent by 2030, in part due to the increased use of more efficient and environmentally friendly options such as solar power by farmers, consumers, and businesses. Mr. Abbott argued that the “Australian method” provided the world an example because it would be founded on numerous concepts, such as “technology rather than taxation,” and “choices rather than mandates,” among others.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government would invest 20 billion Australian dollars ($15 billion) to expand the use of low-emission technologies, such as solar, wind, and green hydrogen, which is produced by splitting water with electricity generated by renewable energy sources. The country’s next federal election is due in May of next year, and Abbott appeared to be campaigning at times. In addition, financial assistance would be provided for the production of steel and aluminium with low emissions.
Overall, according to the published plan, technology would be responsible for 70 percent of the predicted emissions reductions required to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 in one form or another.
Those who oppose Australia’s efforts to reach net zero have called it “magical thinking.” This is especially true given that Australia’s efforts to achieve net zero would include support for hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, which emit large amounts of carbon, as well as support for technologies that have never been tested, such as carbon capture and storage, which involves burying carbon underground. Both may be seen as another another sort of assistance to the already-dominant coal and natural gas sectors.