A call for climate change has emerged a key issue for the country in the aftermath of Australia’s deadly bushfires that have taken the lives of 33 people and destroyed nearly 12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) of land. Marking the suffering caused by the wildfires to the people of Australia, the Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison last week named it “Black Summer”.
Challenges Within Morisson Government
A few politicians and big business people have already talked about bringing a major climate in the country’s climate change policy that had been stuck for a decade. An independent politician, Zali Steggall plans to introduce a proposed bill in the legislative assembly that sets a target of zero carbon emissions by 2050 and wishes all lawmakers to allow a conscience vote on the bill next month. Steggall told Reuters, “Eighty percent of the public wants to see us addressing climate change. The impacts are real. We are experiencing them now.”
The move for climate change policy will be a huge challenge for the Morrison government since some of his Liberal Party leaders have been pressurizing the government to fund new coal-fired power stations. Many of the leaders within the Morrison government have already supported the new power plant as it would create jobs, boost power supplies, and maintain energy prices. As analysts said, the call for robust policy on climate change would provide a moment to bring the Liberal Party and its main opposition, Labor party together in passing the bill.
Climate change has been a key issue in Australian politics and the issues have led to the downfall of at least three PMs over the past decade. The Director of the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University, Mark Howden stated, “What it shows is there’s a recognition that climate change is problematic for Australia and we need to take more action to protect ourselves against the consequences.”
Existing Challenges on Climate Change Targets
Australian Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister, Angus Taylor declined to comment on the question by Reuters about whether the government would support the bill. However, Taylor expected that the Australian government would soon formulate a long term strategy for emissions reduction ahead of the next UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020. He said in an email to Reuters, “The pathway to meaningful impacts on global emissions is through development and deployment of new technologies. The answer is not a new tax or more bureaucracy.”
Australia has been on the edge of missing targets of cutting carbon emissions as set in the Paris Accord in 2015. Under the Paris Agreement, Australia pledged to reduce at least 26% from 2005 levels by 2030; however, to meet its target, the country needed an annual reduction of emission to 462 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Although Morrison had repeatedly claimed his optimistic views on meeting that “in a canter”, the government forecasted in December 2019 that the country’s emissions would reduce to 511 Mt in 2030 which would be only 16% below 2005 levels. A research firm, RepuTex said, “The climate change challenge will be even harder on the government as emissions are growing from Australia’s largest industrial facilities, offsetting reductions in the power sector since 2005.”
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