Australia approves first climate change bill in decade
Photo taken on March 18, 2022 shows vivid light on Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia, as part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge 90th anniversary celebration.
Australia on Thursday passed its first major climate change bill in over a decade, codifying emissions targets and enshrining into its law for the first time a goal to reach net zero by 2050.
The legislation, a key election promise of Australia’s new centre-left Labor government, aims to slash emissions in the carbon-intensive economy by 43 percent from 2005 levels.
Its passage was heralded by the government as the end of a decade of Australian inaction on climate, and it garnered broad support from unions and business groups.
One of the world’s leading coal and natural gas exporters, Australia has been slow to adopt climate targets, even as it is hit by increasingly ferocious bushfires and floods.
While the new targets are more ambitious than the previous government’s planned 26-28 percent cut by 2030, the legislation has been criticized by some for not doing enough and for failing to ban new coal and gas projects.
“Forty-three percent is not enough,” Senator David Pocock said.
“But it’s a start… I think it’s important that we do legislate a target.”