Australia Bill Puts Emissions Targets into Law

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Australia’s new government administration introduced a bill last week that would for the first time enshrine into law its goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions – reductions of 43% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Technically, the bill introduces amendments – including a higher gas emission reductions goal for 2030 – to the climate change bill introduced by the previous Australian administration.

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“The purpose of the bill is to embed considerations relating to the emissions reduction targets and the Paris Agreement into relevant federal legislation for Commonwealth entities and schemes, and Commonwealth government departments delivering programs and implementing policies that are, or could be, contributing to emissions reductions for Australia – enabling the delivery of real and significant emissions reduction and representing a step toward achieving the transition to net zero that is vital to the future of Australia,” according to an explanatory memorandum circulated by authority of Chris Bowen, Australia’s minister for climate change and energy.

The targets referred to in the bill include both legislated targets in Australia’s climate change bill and any targets included in new or adjusted, nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Also known as the Paris Accords or the Paris Climate Accords, the agreement is an international treaty on climate change that was adopted in 2015. It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation and finance.

The climate change bill also aims to ensure transparency and accountability on Australia’s gas emissions reduction targets, by requiring the minister to table an annual climate change statement in Parliament, setting out Australia’s progress toward meeting its emissions reduction targets, relevant international developments and climate change policy.

Australia elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in May. He succeeded Scott Morrison, who had served as prime minister for two terms, since August 2018.

The previous government under Morrison developed the 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, including through consultation and modeling that informed development of a long-term emissions reduction plan released in October 2021. The content of the climate change bill was announced in late June. However, according to news reports, the previous administration had not implemented legislation or taxes to attain the targets and had not increased its interim 2030 emissions reduction target from a 26-28% range.

The bill was introduced in the new government’s first parliamentary session last week and will need support from both the country’s Senate and House of Representatives to become law, news reports said.