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Long a Climate Straggler, Australia Advances a Major Bill to Cut Emissions

CANBERRA, Australia – After years of being condemned as a laggard on climate change, Australia changed course on Thursday, with the House of Commons of Parliament passing a bill requiring the government to cut carbon emissions by at least 43 percent by 2030 compared to from 2005 levels, reaching net zero by 2050.

With the critical support of the Australian Greens now in attendance, the new Labor government is expected to push the legislation through the Senate in a matter of weeks.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it would put the country “on the right side of history”. The 43 percent pledge brings Australia closer to Canada, South Korea and Japan, while the pledges made by the United States, the European Union and Britain are still being met.

“The impact of climate change is real. We need an answer that is real,” Mr Albanian told reporters on Thursday. “The government offers that.”

In parliament, climate minister Chris Bowen simply said: “This is a good day for our country.”

But the pledge – which Mr Albanian campaigned for when Labor challenged the long-ruling Conservative coalition in the federal election in May – is widely seen as long ago and only the beginning of a vital economic transition in a country that is the world’s third-largest country. is. largest exporter of fossil fuels, after Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Amanda McKenzie, who leads the Climate Council, an association of scientists and community leaders who has for years called on Australia to do more about climate change, called the Climate Change Act a “springboard” that will oblige the government to hold itself accountable in creating a framework for climate change. investments in renewable energy.

Richie Merzian, director of the climate and energy program at the Australia Institute, an impartial think tank, described the bill as “a giant leap forward” while pointing out that there is still a long way to go.

The government has refused to accept proposals to Australia to turn down new coal and gas projects – a major point of contention between a string of independent MPs who won seats in mostly conservative districts with pledges to tackle climate change aggressively.

Mr Albanian and his Labor government also rejected a separate Vegetable Amendment to cut emissions by 75 percent by 2030.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has repeatedly said the government’s lesser target would lead to crop destruction, devastating natural disasters and the demise of the Great Barrier Reef, which will continue to struggle with current warming trends, according to a report released Thursday. has been released. by Australian marine scientists.

They found that parts of the reef had begun to recover from a series of devastating bleaching events in recent years, but predicted that the world-famous ecosystem would experience frequent and longer-lasting heat waves unless there was “immediate global action on climate change. ”

“That’s the science,” said Mr. Bandt. “We’re not doing this to try and stop the pollution a little bit. We are doing this to prevent climate change from becoming a runaway chain reaction.”

He described his support for the climate bill as a first step in pushing Australia to do more, and many climate experts argue that the country can only meet its international obligations if it stops approving new coal and gas projects and eventually existing ones. close.

“They need to tackle the Albanians’ make-believe that our coal and gas are somehow greener than others, and their drug dealer’s defense that if we don’t sell it, others will,” said Robyn Eckersley, an expert in the field of climate change. at the University of Melbourne. “This is pernicious and a direct evasion of Australia’s responsibilities.”

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