If Australia’s main opposition party wins next year’s election, it will aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions 45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by mid-century, Labor party leader Bill Shorten said Friday.
The goal would be a major step up from the coalition government’s pledge to cut emissions 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030.
“Stopping global warming means stopping new emissions. If we are to meet the global target of two degrees, we must reach a point at which we are not adding pollution into the atmosphere,” Shorten said in a statement.
“This means by 2050, every tonne of pollution we produce will need to be balanced by sequestering, off-setting or purchasing.”
He added that a 45% reduction target by 2030 would be tough, but that “Australia should not shy away from ambition”.
Labor’s policy plan to meet the target will be announced in March next year.
“Labor has a substantial renewable electricity generation goal, an internationally linked Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and a suite of energy efficiency and transition measures underpinned by a scientifically robust carbon reduction target,” said a climate change action plan posted on the Labor party website.
“Labor’s policies – including the ETS – will be developed on the basis of specialist advice. These matters can only be resolved on the basis of market solutions and specialist advice, which the public service will provide should we return to government.”
Environment Minister Greg Hunt criticised the announcement, saying it was “another plan for higher electricity prices”.
“Bill Shorten is grandstanding with a high target but Labor won’t say how they’ll achieve it except by bringing back the carbon tax, even if he calls it an Emissions Trading Scheme,” he said.
Think-tank The Climate Institute said Labor’s target would cut emissions by 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
“This 4.5 billion tonne improvement equates to more than 20 years of pollution from the nation’s power sector. It would take Australia three-quarters of the way towards the climate action required,” said CEO John Connor.
“Even under the ALP’s targets, Australia would still be 1.5 billion tonnes away from doing its bit towards the global below-2C goal, but it is a significant improvement on the government’s proposed targets. The government’s targets are more aligned to global action that would allow 3-4C warming.”
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org