Net zero by 2050 plan ‘uniquely Australian’: Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched the federal government’s plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by lauding the country’s achievements so far.

“Australia has already met and beaten our … 2020 targets and indeed Australia will beat and meet our 2030 targets as well,” Mr Morrison said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the plan to tackle climate change is “uniquely Australian”.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The government’s plan to reduce emissions, released on Tuesday, stressed industries, regions and jobs would not be put at risk. The target of net zero by 2050 will not be legislated.

Mr Morrison was accompanied by Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, but Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was not present. Nationals MPs backed the goal in a tense meeting on Sunday that cleared the way for Tuesday’s policy announcement, which includes $19 billion in investments for low emissions technologies including solar and clean hydrogen by 2030.

Mr Morrison said the plan to tackle climate change was “uniquely Australian”.

“Australians want action on climate change. They’re taking action on climate change but they also want to protect their jobs and their livelihoods. They also want to keep the costs of living down,” he said. “And I also want to protect the Australian way of life, especially in rural and regional areas. The Australian way of life is unique.”

Mr Morrison will fly to Rome on Thursday to attend the G20 summit before spending two days in Glasgow for the United Nations climate talks.

The Prime Minister said the plan to cut emissions was not a plan “at any cost”.

“There’s no blank cheques here,” he said.

He promised the target would not be an end to coal or gas production or exports and would not increase energy bills.

“It will not impact households businesses or the broader economy with new costs or taxes imposed by the initiatives that we are undertaking,” he said. “It will not cost jobs, not in farming, mining or gas. Because what we’re doing in these plans is positive things, enabling things.

It also would not be a “set and forget” program, with five-yearly reviews from the Productivity Commission. The first review is set for 2023 and will look at the socio-economic impact of the plan.

“We won’t just be measuring the fact that we’ll be reducing emissions, we’ll be measuring the fact that we’re creating jobs, we’ll be measuring the fact that we’re boosting incomes, we’ll be measuring the fact that we are preserving Australians livelihoods, right across the country, because that is also one of the key measures of performance and success with this plan,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Taylor said the plan to achieve net zero by the middle of the century was achievable, thanks in part to the country’s performance to date on reducing emissions.

“Australia versus even developed countries has performed extremely well, with a reduction of almost 21 per cent since 2005,” he said.

Australia’s emissions were forecast to drop 30 to 35 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, he said. The government’s policy is a cut of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030

Mr Taylor said carbon offset would be an important part of the plan, noting that Australia had 90 million hectares of productive agricultural land. Another focus would be reducing the costs of low emissions technologies.

“We’re looking at the customer and technology trends, shaping those trends to our advantage; and on the back of that, ensuring we have a portfolio of technologies that can deliver the outcome we want to deliver which is head zero by 2050,” Mr Taylor said.

More to come

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