One of the most criticized polluters in the world, Australia, has promised it will reach net carbon emissions of zero by 2050.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the long-delayed pledge after negotiating with resistant MPs within his cabinet.
He said Australia has a plan to cut emissions, but it doesn’t include ending its huge fossil fuel sectors.
The nation will also not set ambitious targets for 2030, a target of next month’s COP26 global climate summit.
“We won’t get lessons from others who don’t understand Australia. The Australian Way is all about how you do it, and not if you do it. It’s about doing it,” Mr. Morrison wrote in a newspaper column on Tuesday.
To stop the worst effects of climate change, nations have pledged to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5C by 2050.
This requires reducing emissions by 45% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050, the scientists say.
Australia has long dragged its heels on climate action, putting it increasingly at odds with strategic allies including the US and the UK.
It is one of the dirtiest countries per capita and one of the world’s leading suppliers of coal and gas.
- Why is Australia refusing to give up coal?
Controversially, Australia’s 2050 commitment offers no concrete plans to limit fossil fuel extraction.
“We want our heavy industries, such as mining, to remain open, competitive and adapt, so that they remain viable as long as global demand allows,” Morrison wrote.
He said it’s “not a straight line” to net zero, which means Australia should first invest in more gas and solar to meet its electricity needs.
This was key to limiting the financial burden on rural and other communities, he said.
Morrison’s commitment comes after his Liberal Party struck a deal with its young coalition partner, the National Party, which has many constituencies in rural and mining communities.
Australia joins more than 100 countries that are committed to achieving net zero emissions.
Net zero means not increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
It is achieved by combining as much as possible the reduction of emissions – mainly by reducing gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), which are released in the use of fossil fuels – and the so-called compensation measures, such as tree planting and capture of the carbon technology.
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