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Australia’s opposition Labor party has committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

The new climate target, announced by Labor leader Anthony Albanese, is the first major policy set by the party after its election loss in May 2019. Labor, however, has yet to outline exactly how they plan to achieve their 2050 target should they be victorious at the next federal election. 

Albanese explained that the new climate policy aligns with the Paris agreement — a pact signed by 197 countries in 2015 that aims to see nations “undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change” and limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030. 

"To keep the planet safe, we have to achieve less than 2 degrees of global warming and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. To do that, the world must achieve net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050,” Albanese said in a speech in Melbourne. “In other words, the amount of pollution released into the atmosphere is no greater than the amount we absorb — which can occur through agriculture, forestry and other means. This is what the world agreed to in Paris, Australia included.”

Albanese added: “Whether the current government accepts it or not, this goal is fast becoming the reality.” 

The new Labor policy has reignited Australia's climate wars, with the Federal government and the Greens claiming the 2050 target is too vague and will result in substantial job losses. 

Angus Taylor, the Coalition’s energy minister, said the plan was “silly.”

"The way to deal with this issue is coordinated global action. Australia's unilateral action is not going to solve the problem,” he said during an interview at Parliament house. “[Labor] need to explain what this means for farmers, for miners, for truck drivers, for people right throughout regional Australia.”

The Federal government has yet to reveal their 2050 emissions target.

They did, however, commit in 2015 to reducing Australia’s emissions by between 26% to 28% on 2005 levels by 2030. 

Australia is currently the only nation signed onto the Paris agreement that plans to use “carry-over credits” gained from the former Kyoto Protocol to achieve current emission reduction goals. 

In 2007, Australia agreed to reduce emissions under this protocol by 108% of 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. The nation then outperformed the goal by polluting at 103%, allowing the government to bring these “credit” points over to the present emission reduction target.  

According to the Guardian, around half of the emissions Australia needs to cut to reach its 26% to 28% goal will come from these credits. 

Albanese revealed Labor would “never” use carry-over credits to meet their emissions goals.


Defend the Planet

Australia’s Opposition Party Just Committed to Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

By Madeleine Keck