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Australia’s leader says opposition will renege on greenhouse gas emissions target if elected

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday said the opposition Liberal Party would renege on the nation’s ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if it wins elections due within a year.

Albanese made Australian action on climate change an issue in elections due by next May in response to comments that Peter Dutton, leader of the conservative opposition party, made to The Weekend Australian newspaper.

Dutton said in an interview with the newspaper that he opposed the center-left Labor Party government’s plan to reduce emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade, saying there was “no sense in signing up to targets you don’t have any prosects of achieving.”

Albanese said Australia would achieve the target despite a forecast by the CIimate Change Authority, a government agency, last November of a reduction of between 37% and 42%.

“Peter Dutton is walking away from climate action. His decision to abandon the 2030 target means him walking away from the Paris Accord,” Albanese told reporters, referring to the agreement struck by governments at a United Nations climate conference in Paris in 2015.

“If you walk away from the Paris Accord, you’ll be standing with Libya, Yemen, and Iran, and against all of our major trading partners and all of our important allies,” Albanese said.

Opposition climate and energy spokesperson Ted O’Brien said Dutton was acknowledging that Australia would not meet the 43% target that Parliament enshrined into law in September 2022. Parliament made the target a law to increase the degree of difficulty for any future government that wanted a less ambitious target.

The Liberal Party will reveal its reduction target for 2030 closer to the next election, which Albanese could call from late 2024, O’Brien said.

“We are absolutely committed to the Paris Agreement. We are absolutely committed to achieving net zero by 2050, and we will have a plan to do so,” O’Brien told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“What we have done is we’ve called Labor out” for legislating a promise the government could not keep, O’Brien added.

Opposition lawmakers voted against the legislated 43% reduction target.

A previous Liberal Party government promised in Paris in 2015 that Australia would reduce emissions by between 26% and 28% by 2030. The party remained in power until it lost elections in 2022 to Albanese’s government.

The Liberal Party has not changed its 2030 target since Paris but has matched Labor’s pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The two sides of politics are proposing different paths to meet the 2050 target.

Labor is proposing more renewable energy such as solar and wind-generated electricity while the Liberal Party is proposing Australia’s first nuclear-generated electricity.

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