A real program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia? It’s for ” soon “, promised Thursday, May 26 Penny Wong, the foreign minister of the new government. Winner of the elections a few days earlier, the Labor Party shows its desire to break with the Scott Morrison years.
Increased public funding for fossil fuels
The latter, at the helm since 2018, has continued to support fossil fuels. According to the think tank Australian Institute, subsidies to the sector increased by 12% last year to reach a record level. Enough to bring to more than 35 billion euros the public capital intended for this industry. There is “no sign of slowing down”notes Rod Campbell, the director of the institute, in a press release.
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The new government, if it were to materialize its intentions, will have to look into the 114 fossil projects, from the coal mine to the gas plant, currently in the pipeline, according to a report carried out in mid-May by the group Climate Action Tracker research tool. This is almost double the number of renewable energy projects.
It is difficult to deprive oneself of resources present in abundance in the subsoil: Australia is the world’s leading exporter of coal. Its production peak would have been reached in 2015, but volumes have been decreasing very slowly since then. Customers are not lacking: between them, Japan and China buy more than half of them.
Although the country has only 25 million inhabitants, its greenhouse gas emissions are very high, to the point that Australians have a carbon footprint twice as high as the average observed in OECD countries, which which makes them world champions of pollution per capita. And if a large part of the energy extracted is intended for export, 90% of the energy consumed locally comes from fossil fuels. Gas or coal-fired power plants supply 70% of the electricity produced in the country.
In its annual report published in April, the Clean Energy Council, a federation that brings together local renewable energy players, notes however a good increase in renewable energy capacities. Small solar power plants are experiencing strong growth. But the federation also notes “a slowdown in major renewable energy projects in 2021 (…) resulting from continuing political uncertainty”.
Australia has not yet produced a credible climate strategy. “It is based on technological trends, carbon offsets and expectations of technological “disruption” rather than new public policies”,emphasize the scientists of the Climate Action Tracker. The organization describes this strategy as “highly insufficient”i.e. capable of leading to a warming of 4°C by 2100.
The change is now ?
The Labor government is expected at the turn. He was elected promising a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 43% by 2030, 15 points more than the government of Scott Morisson. “It’s not just words, said Penny Wong. We will enshrine it in law and soon submit a new contribution at the national level to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. »
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, each signatory country is required to regularly update its contribution: Australia has never done so.
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