‘Renewable energy superpower’: Australia votes for climate action | News about the climate crisis

The choice of politicians running to tackle climate change is a notable change for Australia, one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters per capita and a top exporter of coal and gas.

Australia’s elections have brought a wave of Greens and independents pushing for aggressive targets to cut carbon emissions.

The election result, with climate change playing a pivotal role, represents a remarkable change for Australia, one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita and a leading exporter of coal and gas. It was shunned at last year’s Glasgow climate summit for failing to meet the ambitious targets of other rich nations.

“Together we can end climate wars,” incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in his victory speech. “Together we can seize the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower.”

Albanese has said Labor would stick to its target of cutting carbon emissions 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, already much tougher than the outgoing Conservative government’s Paris climate target of a cut of up to 28 percent. hundred.

With votes still counted, Labor is short of a majority in the lower house of parliament, so may need the support of an enlarged cross bench. Even with an outright majority, he could face a fight in the Senate, where he will likely need to work with the Greens to pass legislation, including the 2030 emissions target.

“Now the battle will be about ambition in short-term goals, legislating a plan that is beyond the reach of any government and pausing new fossil fuel mines,” said Richie Merzian, director of climate and energy at the Australian Institute. group of experts

The Greens want to achieve net zero by 2035 instead of 2050, stop building new coal and gas infrastructure, and end coal-fired generation by 2030.

Workers will also face pressure from a handful of climate-focused independents pushing for emissions cuts of at least 50 percent by 2030.

fossil fuel jobs

The defeated Prime Minister Scott Morrison once taunted Labour, brandishing a lump of coal in parliament saying, “Don’t be afraid.”

Since then, the Labor Party, mindful of its defeat in 2019 when it lost seats in regions dependent on coal and gas jobs, has abandoned or watered down policies that could hurt them.

Two days before the election, a senior Labor politician praised the gas industry for building massive export-generating megaprojects, which are expected to rake in 70 billion Australian dollars ($50 billion) this year.

“I want to make it clear how enthusiastic I am, but also how enthusiastic the Labor Party is about this industry because we know it creates jobs and creates livelihoods,” Labor’s shadow resource minister Madeleine King said in a statement. an oil conference.

Labour’s key climate policies are boosting demand for electric vehicles through tax breaks, providing A$20bn ($14bn) in cheap finance to build transmission for new renewable energy projects, and reinforcing the safeguard” of the country’s emissions.

This mechanism establishes a baseline of permissible emissions for the 215 large mining, energy and materials companies that emit more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Companies are awaiting details of the plan, which envisions lowering baselines to net zero by 2050, but are largely unconcerned by the proposal.

“On a general level, it probably doesn’t feel too different from the commitments we’ve already made,” Meg O’Neill, chief executive of gas producer Woodside Petroleum, told reporters last week.

Cost challenges could hamper Labor’s push to achieve 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030, with the cost of materials used in power lines, solar and wind farms rising. At the same time, energy prices will skyrocket, mainly due to high global coal and gas prices.

“The next two years look dire for energy users, and whoever is in government will be under pressure for that,” said Tennant Reed, director of climate and energy policy at the Australian Industry Group.

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