Set 2035 as net-zero target date: inquiry

Australia must increase its emissions-reduction targets to 74 per cent by 2030, and achieve net zero just five years later, according to a submission on the Albanese government’s climate change bills.

The Environmental Defenders Office says the government must aim for a higher target than 43 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

“Australia needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 74 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035,” the organisation wrote in its submission to a Senate inquiry into the bills.

“Australia currently has over 80 pieces of legislation relating to energy and various elements of climate policy, however the sum of these parts does not equal an effective legal framework.

“It is time for a national Climate Act to set the path to real net zero, define responsibilities, galvanise transition and incentivise innovation in meeting our targets to stay within a carbon budget that will limit warming to 1.5C.”

The bills passed the lower house last week.

The European Union’s outgoing Australian ambassador, Dr Michael Pulch, said the climate policy was a step in the right direction to fast-tracking negotiations for a free trade deal, which had stalled under the Morrison government.

“A more ambitious climate change policy by the Australian government makes it easier to have a significant sustainable trade chapter (in the trade agreement),” he told ABC radio.

“That’s important because the parliament is very adamant … that every agreement that we signed as a European Union should be a net plus on climate change.”

The trade deal is expected to be finalised by early 2023.

In its submission, tech giant Google wrote it supported Labor’s plan of decarbonisation and encouraged the shift to clean energy.

“We were the first major company globally to become carbon neutral in 2007,” Google’s submission reads.

“In 2017, we became the first company of our size to match 100 per cent of our annual electricity use with renewable energy.”

The government is seeking to enshrine in law the 43 per cent reduction in emissions, as well as net zero by 2050.

It is a step up from the coalition government’s 26 to 28 per cent reduction target, which was not backed up by legislation.

The responsible minister will also be required to report back to parliament on progress made towards reaching those targets.

The Senate inquiry is due to report on August 31, before senators get to debate the bills in the parliamentary sitting fortnight starting on September 5.

The government needs the support of all 12 Greens senators and one crossbencher for the bills to become law.


Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)


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