Anthony Albanese takes aim at Peter Dutton over abandonment of interim climate targets

Jack QuailNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Anthony Albanese has accused Peter Dutton of being “worse than Scott Morrison on climate change” after the Opposition Leader signalled he would shelve Labor’s 2030 emissions reduction target if the Coalition won the next federal election, a move that would breach Australia’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

On Saturday, Mr Dutton revealed the Coalition would abandon the Albanese government's legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, arguing Australia would fail to meet the target which is largely reliant on the decarbonisation of the national energy grid.

But speaking in Canberra on Monday, the Prime Minister fired back, accusing the Opposition Leader of “walking away” from action on climate change.

“His decision to abandon the 2030 target means he is walking away from the Paris Accord. If you walk away from the Paris Accord, you’ll be standing with Libya, Yemen, and Iran, and against all of our major trading partners and all of our important allies,” Mr Albanese told reporters.

Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese criticised Peter Dutton over the Coalition’s position on climate policy. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“Peter Dutton has never believed in taking action on climate change and the Coalition has been a mess. For 10 years, they had 22 policies and didn’t land one. We’ve had one policy, we landed it.”

Labor’s 43 per cent emissions reduction target is a commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty with an overarching goal to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”.

Alongside the other 195 signatories to the Paris Agreement, Australia cannot renege or weaken its previous emission reduction commitments, meaning a move by the Coalition to dump or reduce its 2030 target would constitute a breach of the agreement.

Official projections released in November by the Climate Change Authority showed Labor was within striking distance of achieving its interim target, with Australia forecast to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by the end of the decade.

But despite the projections showing Australia will still fall short of the target, Mr Albanese said on Monday the government’s investments in the intervening period meant Australia was “on track” to meet its commitments.

“Since then we’ve had significant new policies announced that will further enhance the opportunities,” he said.

“I’m very confident, not only that we can get there, but importantly, that we must get there.”

“For a country like Australia, which is so susceptible to cyclones, flooding, to bushfires, there are economic consequences behind not moving forward as part of a global community.

Camera IconOpposition Leader Peter Dutton will go to the next election opposing Labor’s interim emissions reduction target. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Much of Australia’s decarbonisation efforts will rely on Labor achieving a separate target to increase the share of renewable generation in the national electricity market to 82 per cent by the end of the decade.

However, on current projections, it is similarly expected Australia will fall short of its goal due to delays in building new generation capacity and enabling infrastructure.

With Labor attempting to wedge the Coalition over its interim targets, opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien clarified on Monday morning clarified that the Coalition was “absolutely committed” to the Paris Agreement, and would retain Labor’s 2050 net-zero target.

“We remain committed to Paris and to net zero. Any shorter-term targets will be informed by the state of the economy, the trajectory of emissions and our suite of policies,” Mr O’Brien told the ABC.

But pressed repeatedly on whether the Coalition would set a weaker 2030 target or shelve the goal entirely, Mr O’Brien was evasive.

“What I can tell you when it comes to targets is, firstly, unlike Labor, we won’t be plucking a number out of thin air,” he added.

Originally published as Anthony Albanese takes aim at Peter Dutton over abandonment of interim climate targets

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