Australia passed its first major climate legislation in more than a decade with a pledge to accelerate emissions curbs, sealing the key polluter’s return as a force in global action on planetary warming.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Climate Change Bill, which legislates a 43 percent cut to carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, finally passed the Australian Senate on Thursday, though only after his government accepted it’ll likely need to continue to show much more ambition.
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Enshrining the target into law brings Australia in line with nations including Canada, South Korea and Japan, but it lags behind key allies including the US, and the UK.
President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, passed last month, has been heralded as the most significant American climate legislation ever.
After passing at the Senate at 37 votes to 30, the climate legislation will return to the House of Representatives where it is expected to pass quickly due to the Labor government’s majority.
Acceptance of the bill is a victory for Albanese who won the election in May with a promise to step up action on climate change. His Labor government has pledged to take further action to curb emissions, including strengthening a system to cut corporate emissions.
Pro-climate action minor parties, independent lawmakers and activists including billionaire technology tycoon Mike Cannon-Brookes have all pressed Albanese’s Labor government to go further on plans to curb emissions and to reduce the nation’s reliance on coal.
Australia has long been seen as a laggard on the international stage when it came to climate action, with large fossil fuel exports offset by the bare minimum of emission cuts. The country is one of the largest exporters of coal in the world.
Australia had previously passed a price on carbon emissions in 2011 under then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard, however it was repealed just two years later by the center-right Liberal National Coalition after winning elections in 2013.
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