​Australia rejects ‘meaningless’ emissions goal even after fires

Australia will avoid setting a long-term target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and instead devote attention to developing technologies that promote the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The government will soon release a roadmap that provides guidance on which future energy and emissions-reduction technologies will be prioritized, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a speech Friday. It will lay out measurable economic and investment goals for each.

“If I could stand up today – announce a target and see the CO2 reduce – then I would,” Taylor said, referring to carbon dioxide emissions. “But sadly a target without a plan is meaningless – it is the worst part of the emissions reduction debate.”

The Australian government has been criticized for its lack of a coherent climate policy following devastating wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes across the country over summer. The main opposition Labor Party earlier this month adopted a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and most state governments have also set that goal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s centre -right government has said it will comfortably meet its Paris Agreement target to cut emissions by at least 26 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels. However, its strong support of the coal industry is seen in conflict with that goal. Pollution levels have leveled off after declining in the 2010s as a number of major gas export projects started operation.

Taylor said the technology investment roadmap will underpin Australia’s long-term emissions reduction strategy, which it will take to the global climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and lithium are among areas the government is seeking to develop, Taylor added.

“A target without a plan is foolish,” he said. “We will outline the technologies; we will outline the goals for each of these technologies; and then we will show the results from the scenarios.”

Climate lobby group the Smart Energy Council dismissed the roadmap as a “red herring,” saying the technology, in the form of solar and wind power, was already in place to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“What we need is a comprehensive energy policy that underpins a resilient energy system and tackles climate change, reducing emissions while delivering reliable and cheap energy,” chief executive officer John Grimes said in a statement.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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