Australia sees the world’s climate emergency as an opportunity to create jobs, Minister for Climate and Energy Chris Bowen said on Wednesday while introducing legislation to enshrine the Labor Government’s emissions reduction target.
According to Reuters, Bowen said a decade of political in-fighting had seen Australia go backwards on climate change, and the legislation would send a message that Australia was “open for business” and “back as a good international citizen”.
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“The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity,” he said, adding the resource-rich nation could become a renewable energy powerhouse.
Iron ore sent to China, coal and liquefied natural gas are Australia’s top exports.
Bowen said clean energy jobs would be created in battery manufacturing, and commodities such as aluminium, lithium, copper, cobalt and nickel.
“There is a significant export market waiting for us if we get the levers right,” he said.
Legislation setting a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 was a beginning, and its implementation would be monitored by an independent climate change authority.
“We see 43 per cent as a floor on what our country can achieve,” he said.
The government is negotiating with The Greens, which hold the balance of power in the upper house and want more ambitious climate action, however, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Labor could not support The Greens’ call to stop new coal and gas projects.
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Albanese said in a TV interview on Tuesday it also wouldn’t end coal exports, because Australia’s customers would substitute it from other sources.
“What you would see is a lot of jobs lost, you would see a significant loss to our economy, significant less taxation revenue for education, health and other services, and that coal wouldn’t lead to a reduction in global emissions,” he told the ABC.