Australia Does Not Tighten Environmental Targets for Polluters

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Australia does not appear to be planning to impose stricter rules on polluting industries for the time being. On Monday, Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor rejected a call by a lobby group of the country’s largest companies to introduce stricter emissions limits for the worst polluters.

 

Nor was there any indication of what targets the government might announce in light of the UN climate summit later this month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seeking support from within his own coalition for a net-zero target by 2050 and possibly a more ambitious 2030 target, ahead of the UN climate conference in Glasgow. Australia previously pledged to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels.

The Business Council of Australia, which represents the country’s largest companies, including miners, gas and electricity producers, previously said emissions reductions of up to 50 percent below 2005 levels could be achieved by 2030. The lobby club also spoke of great benefits for the economy if that happens.

The lobby club argued that companies that emit more than 25 million tons of CO2 per year should be obliged to pay carbon offsets. The current threshold is 100 million tonnes per year. However, during his speech at an energy and climate conference on Monday, Taylor quickly brushed aside the lobby group’s recommendations.

According to Taylor, if the so-called safeguard mechanism is tightened, it will mean a covert carbon tax that consumers will eventually have to pay. That is unacceptable to him. Taylor also said the government’s main goal was to protect key industries, including gas, coal, heavy industry and agriculture, beyond the necessary investment in sustainable solutions.

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