(Bloomberg) — Australia’s new government has committed to toughen its short-term targets on cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, a key policy shift in a nation long regarded as a global climate laggard.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who won office last month, confirmed an election pledge to lower carbon emissions by 43% on 2005 levels by 2030, saying the new target would give certainty to citizens and businesses.
While the new target will bring Australia into line with nations including Canada, South Korea and Japan, Albanese’s plan remains less ambitious than action promised by the US, the European Union and the UK.
The policy should spur short-term investment in renewable energy and set Australia up “for a prosperous future,” according to Albanese.
“A future powered by cleaner, cheaper energy. A future in which we make more things here,” he said Thursday in Canberra. “A future in which we participate in the global effort to deal with the challenge of climate change, but also seize the opportunity that is there from acting on climate change.”
Albanese’s government officially signed the updated climate commitment under the United Nations’ Paris Agreement on Thursday, the first new targets set since an initial commitment in 2016. The country’s previous government had vowed to curb emissions by as much as 28% by 2030, and set a target to hit net zero by 2050.
One of the outcomes of last year’s COP26 climate talks was a request that nations should “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate targets by the end of this year.
Some newly elected independent lawmakers have called for Australia’s government to cut emissions by 60% by 2030, while the Australian Greens want even tougher action — 70% cuts by that date. Albanese will need the support of pro-climate action lawmakers to pass any legislation in the Australian Senate.
Australia’s confirmation of more ambitious climate action comes as ministers handle a squeeze on energy supply, with outages at coal-fired power plants, lower renewables generation and a cold-weather snap putting the country’s electricity network under major strain.