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Australia passes climate bill pledging to reach net-zero by 2050

Australia has passed new climate legislation pledging to reduce carbon emissions by 43% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. 

This is the first climate legislation to be passed by the country’s new Labor government, following more than a decade of inaction, bringing it up to speed with other developed nations. 

The Climate Change Bill has been welcomed by environmentalists and campaigners, but some climate activists say the legislation lacks detail and is urging the government to do more. 

sydney opera house near body of water during daytime

The Minister for Climate Change and energy Chris Bowen said: ‘The passage of the Climate Change legislation sends a message to the world that Australia is serious about driving down emissions, and serious about reaping the economic opportunities from affordable renewable energy.

‘Legislating these targets gives certainty to investors and participants in the energy market and will help stabilise our energy system.

‘It also strengthens transparency and accountability through the annual climate change statement and will ensure public debate informs government decisions.’ 

The bill cleared the Senate with 37 votes to 30 after minor amendments were made by independent David Pocock. 

Previous leader Scott Morrison’s government had caused controversy with its climate policy for being vague and for committing to reducing carbon emissions by just 26-28% by 2030. 

Mark Howden, vice chair of the IPCC, told the BBC that Australia’s new policy was a huge improvement: ‘[It] would be equivalent to taking all of our cars off the road or taking agriculture out of our economy.’ 

He also said the new targets set could reduce the average Australian’s carbon emissions from 24 tonnes per person to around 14 tonnes. 

However, Greens leader Adam Bandt said the bill was just a ‘small step’ in addressing the climate crisis and said the party would be urging the government to ban all new coal and gas projects. 

Photo by Caleb Russell

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