Opposition ‘committed’ to climate pact but no 2030 goal

The coalition is claiming the current emissions reduction target for 2030 will destroy the economy.

The coalition is claiming the current emissions reduction target for 2030 will destroy the economy. Photo: Getty

A climate battle is brewing after the Opposition leader affirmed his commitment to a United Nations pact while threatening to shred an emissions reduction target.

The Paris climate agreement, which Australia and 195 other parties adopted in 2015, aims to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C and below 2C.

To achieve the former, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43 per cent by the end of the decade.

But the Paris Agreement only requires signatories increase their emissions targets every five years and not water them down.

There are no legal penalties under the voluntary agreement if a nation does not meet its target, and it allows nations to set their own climate goals.

The Opposition’s move over the weekend to question whether the government’s interim target can be achieved has reawakened memories of the climate wars that roiled Australian politics in recent years.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says the coalition remains committed to the Paris agreement, even as he plans to scrap the Labor government’s 2030 target to cut emissions by 43 per cent if he wins the federal election.

“It’s very clear that we have absolute commitment to Paris and commitment for net-zero by 2050 – it’s important,” he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“(But) it doesn’t need to be linear.

“We’re not going to send the economy into free-fall and families bankrupt through an ideologically based approach.”

He did not outline the opposition’s specific targets for 2030 and instead claimed the government had “no chance” of meeting their emissions reduction targets and that Labor’s approach would hurt the economy.

But forecasts released in December showed Australia was on track for a 42 per cent reduction in emissions, which was within “striking distance” of the 43 per cent target, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said.

He pointed to Labor’s renewable energy rollout and a new vehicle efficiency standard as measures that would get Australia to 43 per cent.

“These are all the sorts of things which mean that we can say with quite a degree of confidence … that we will achieve our 2030 target,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“The opposition has been a mess all weekend.”

Independent MP Kylea Tink, who holds the seat of North Sydney, said Dutton’s call would reopen the climate wars.

“The climate wars must be put to bed and if the Liberal and National parties do not wish to be part of that future, it is their own extinction they are guaranteeing,” she said.

Fellow teal independent Monique Ryan also accused the coalition of being “utterly incoherent”.

“They can’t even decide amongst themselves what their plan is and what their policy is,” she told Nine’s Today program.

Ryan said the business community, which wants certainty on climate policy, was alarmed.


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