Australia on Thursday passed its first major climate change bill in more than a decade, including emissions targets and enshrining the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 in law for the first time.
The law, which is a key election promise of the new centre-left government now in power in Australia, aims to cut emissions from the high-carbon economy by 43% from 2005 levels.
Presented by the Labor government as the end of a decade of Australian climate inaction, the text has garnered broad support among trade unions and business circles.
Australia, one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and natural gas, has been slow to adopt climate targets, although it is already feeling the effects, including more bushfires and flooding. more violent.
An ambitious text on the climate? Not enough, some say
Although it offers more ambitious targets than the 26 to 28% reduction by 2030 planned by the previous government, this new law has disappointed the Greens, who believe that it should in particular ban new coal and gas.
“43% is not enough,” rugby star-turned-senator David Pocock told AFP. “But it’s a start…I think it’s important that we legislate a goal,” he said. Mr Pocock is one of the climate-conscious candidates who came to power in the last election on the promise of faster action to curb climate change.
The climate issue was at the heart of the defeat of the previous Conservative coalition government in the last election.
Some 5.8 million hectares of forest went up in smoke in the fires in late 2019 and early 2020, releasing enough smoke, researchers say, to significantly affect the ozone hole over Antarctica.
However, fossil fuels — coal and gas in particular — remain at the heart of Australia’s economy, making climate action a politically sensitive topic. During a tense debate on Thursday, some senators went so far as to express skepticism about man-made climate change.