THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S commitment to emission reductions this decade exposes Australia’s weak climate record, and serves to further isolate us internationally.
Overnight, President Joe Biden announced the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030, which is almost double Australia’s commitment (of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030) that was announced back in 2015.
The US administration is already racing towards net zero with a $US2 trillion infrastructure plan, including $US100 billion in rebates for electric vehicles. It is also eliminating oil and gas subsidies and has placed climate action at the heart of its foreign policy.
“Many of our strategic allies and trading partners have strengthened their climate commitments for this decade, or intend to do so. The Australian government is standing still and alone by sticking with its weak and stale 2030 target,” said the Climate Council’s acting CEO Dr Martin Rice.
“The US government has ushered in a new era of international cooperation on climate change. All commitments must be scaled up, and the pace of action must accelerate if we are to avoid the worst climate consequences,” he said.
“For Australia, this means reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030, and reaching net zero emissions by 2035,” said Dr Rice.
“Bold and transformative action this decade is not only fundamental to protecting all of us, but would also secure Australia’s long-term economic prosperity. We are the land of sun and wind – and there are significant opportunities from us capitalising on the clean energy revolution,” he said.
Climate Council spokeswoman Professor Lesley Hughes said Australia was far from where it needed to be. “Australia is in the top 20 climate polluting countries in the world. We are also the world’s largest exporter of liquefied gas and second largest exporter of coal, two of the fossil fuels driving climate change,” she said.
“For too long Australia has been focused on protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industry rather than protecting our citizens from the ravages of climate change. The international community is judging us, and won’t tolerate further inaction,” she said.