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Wrecking ball or saviour: Ditching emissions target risks Australia’s place in world, PM warns

Peter Dutton’s plans to walk back from 2030 emission reduction targets would risk Australia’s international standing, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says.

Jun 12, 2024, updated Jun 12, 2024
Forecasts released by the Climate Change Authority in December showed Australia remained on track for a 42 per cent reduction in emissions. (Image: Unsplash)

Forecasts released by the Climate Change Authority in December showed Australia remained on track for a 42 per cent reduction in emissions. (Image: Unsplash)

The coalition has come out against the government’s target of a 43 per cent reduction by the end of the decade, with Dutton warning it would send a “wrecking ball through the economy”.

But Dutton has said any coalition targets for 2030 emissions would be revealed only after winning the next election.

Albanese said having committed targets to 2030 was needed for leadership in the Pacific region.

“Pacific nations regard action on climate change as the entry fee for credibility and for engagement in our region,” he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

“For places like Tuvalu and Kiribati, it is literally an existential threat to their ongoing existence.”

But Dutton said the current targets of 43 per cent had sent a “wrecking ball through the economy”.

“We have had a sensible approach, a measured approach. We want to get our country back on track. We want to make sure that we’ve got an energy policy that’s working for Australians, not against them,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“I’m not going to sign up to an arrangement that destroys our economy and sends families into bankruptcy.”

The prime minister hit out at the lack of clarity surrounding the coalition’s emission reduction plans, saying there was no certainty for global targets.

“It’s a bit like someone getting on a plane … on one of those mystery flights. You don’t know where you’re going to go, you don’t know what the destination is,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nationals leader David Littleproud said Australia would not opt out of the Paris climate agreement, signed by the former coalition government in 2015, but the current 2030 target was unsustainable.

“There’s never been any country asked to achieve the reductions by 2030, that would destroy any economy, and that’s happening to our economy at the moment,” he told ABC TV on Wednesday.

“The 2030 target is a moot point … Australians need to understand that Australia will not achieve that.”

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Opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien said the federal government target of 43 per cent was unlikely to be met.

“Right now, there is Buckley’s chance we can achieve 43 per cent,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Forecasts released by the Climate Change Authority in December showed Australia remained on track for a 42 per cent reduction in emissions.

Subsequent policies such as production tax credits for critical minerals are expected to make up the remaining one per cent needed to meet the target.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said the debate surrounding 2030 targets was little more than hot air.

“Neither Labor nor Liberal targets meet the Paris agreement climate goals, and instead of a confected debate about something Peter Dutton won’t even have the power to do, we should focus on what the science demands and stop opening new coal and gas mines,” he said.

“Neither Liberal nor Labor are committed to the Paris goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees, let alone 1.5 and both want more coal and gas mines.”

While Dutton said he was confident the coalition could win back inner-city electorates at the next election on energy policy, independent MP Zoe Daniel said there was still community backlash to opposition plans.

“There is a view in an electorate like mine that if (people) want strong accountability on climate, it’s going to come from the crossbench, not from the two major parties,” she said.

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