/ 27 October 2021

Destination net zero locked in

Image source: Unsplash
Image source: Unsplash

Australia has joined the net zero emissions by 2050 club, becoming the 70th country to take the pledge. And while we’re not following the lead of others to make formal short term commitments, Oz is said to be on track to deliver emissions reductions of 30-35% on 2005 levels – an improvement on the 26-28% we pledged in Paris in 2015. Next stop: PM Scott Morrison will take the plan to the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next week (where he won’t see the Queen…) after trotting it past the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome on the weekend. At home, there will be scrutiny of Team Morrison’s plan to remove as much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as what’s emitted by the middle of the century.

Good question:

• For 85% of the road to net zero, the government intends to use existing and emerging technologies. Half of that will come from an investment of more than $20 billion by the end of this decade in things like “clean” hydrogen, “ultra-low-cost solar”, battery storage of renewable power and carbon capture and storage.

• The remaining 15%? Insert shrugging lady emoji… They reckon there will be “further technology breakthroughs” between 2030 and 2050.

• And the list of what the plan won’t deliver is long… The target won’t be legislated. It won’t increase energy bills or add new costs or taxes, the government says. And they say it won’t put jobs at risk – in fact, 62,000 new regional mining and heavy industry jobs are projected for the period.

Well, Morrison has a challenge: he’s climbing aboard the climate bus – as demanded by many voters – while giving comfort to those who aren’t sold on the idea yet. That accounts for his pitch that it’s to “protect the Australian way of life”. Meanwhile, the Greens called the plan “a fraud”, and Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s take is that Morrison has left out vital details. Labor supports the target of net zero emissions by 2050 but is yet to reveal its detailed plan – something the party says it will do ahead of the next election.

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