Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050

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Leading global coal and gas supplier Australia has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison however said the plan would not include ending Australia’s fossil fuel sectors.

The nation will also not set ambitious targets for 2030 – an objective of next month’s COP26 global climate summit.

His plan has drawn criticism, with Murdoch University fire ecology expert Joe Fontaine saying it had “all the strength of a wet paper bag”.

Australia has long dragged its heels on climate action. It is one of the dirtiest countries per head of population and a massive exporter of fossil fuels.

Strategic allies the US and UK have both pledged to cut emissions faster. The UK has pledged that all its electricity will come from renewable sources by 2035, while the US has announced plans to halve its emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

“We won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia. The Australian Way is all about how you do it, and not if you do it. It’s about getting it done,” Mr. Morrison wrote in a newspaper column on Tuesday.

To halt the worst effects of climate change, nations have pledged to limit rising temperatures to 1.5C by 2050.

This requires cutting emissions by 45% by 2030 and reaching net-zero by 2050, scientists say. Over 100 nations have committed to carbon neutrality.

Net-zero means not adding to the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It is achieved by a combination of cutting emissions as much as possible – mainly by reducing gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), which are released in the use of fossil fuels – and so-called offsetting measures, such as planting trees and carbon-capture technology.

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