Australia has officially announced plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The decision comes after days of internal negotiations between Australia’s Coalition Government partners, the Liberal and National parties, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stating the “uniquely Australian” plan will prioritise technology, not taxes, and focus on cutting emissions, protecting jobs and building Australia’s economy. 

The new plan will depend upon an existing $20 billion investment into low emissions technologies over the next decade, with 85% of the emissions reductions necessary to achieve the net-zero goal expected to stem from clean hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and energy storage. 

How the nation will reach the remaining 15% is largely unclear, with the plan simply pointing to "further technology breakthroughs."

Morrison highlighted in a press release on Tuesday that Australia has already beaten the nations 2020 emissions reduction targets and is on track to achieve a 35% reduction by 2030, exceeding the current government policy, which remains unchanged, at a 26% to 28% cut on 2005 levels over the next decade. 

"Australia will continue to build on our record of reducing emissions and achieve our targets in the Australian way,” he said.

While the new plan has been welcomed as a step in the right direction, environmental scientists and activists have criticised the government's continued reliance on dangerous fossil fuels, strongly condemned that the target has not been legislated and labelled the unchanged 2030 commitment unambitious. 

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said action is desperately needed this decade. 

"Net-zero by 2050 is welcome, but the mid-century goal is only meaningful with deep cuts to climate pollution this decade,” ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy wrote on Twitter. “The Prime Minister has so far announced a plan to have a plan. It is short-changing Australians by refusing to join other nations in at least halving emissions by 2030.” 

While Morrison claims Australia is outperforming others when addressing climate change, in reality, Australia remains significantly less ambitious than most developed countries. Except for New Zealand, all developed nations have already committed to far more aspiring emissions reduction targets for 2030, according to the Guardian.

Global Citizen’s Regional Director for Oceania, Sarah Meredith, echoed O’Shanassy concerns. 

"Global Citizen has long called for Australia to show up to COP26 with a clear and ambitious emissions reductions plan, alongside targets for 2030 and 2050,” she said. “We have also called for developed countries to deliver on their fair share of the $100 billion per year needed to support vulnerable nations through climate financing.” 

Meredith explained the Australian Government has failed to prepare a plan that appropriately addresses the unique climate challenges faced by the Pacific, with Australia’s neighbours like Kiribati and Tuvalu some of the most climate-vulnerable nations across the world. 

"This is particularly important for our Pacific neighbours in halting and dealing with the effects of climate change,” she explained. “To deliver a plan at the last minute that doesn’t address this decade is incredibly disappointing, but also does not make sense for how important this issue is for all Australians, our region and the world’s future prosperity and health.” 

Meredith added: “I hope the government reconsiders its position not to set a 2030 target that seeks to halve emissions, as we have seen from other economies, and announces at COP26 increased funding for climate financing. We still have time to turn this around.”

You can take action and call on Australia to announce more ambitious climate plans with Global Citizen here.


Defend the Planet

Australia Pledges Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 Ahead of COP26 but Fails to Set Urgent Targets

By Madeleine Keck