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Asia Minute: Australian parliament passes climate bill

Australia Climate
Mark Baker/AP
Electric car chargers at a supermarket car park in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Australia's parliament has just passed one of the government’s top priorities: a climate bill. The measure resets the domestic political discussion about carbon emission goals — and how to achieve them.

This past spring, many Australian voters told pollsters they considered climate change the main issue in the national election.

Labor candidate Anthony Albanese emerged as prime minister, and within a month he told the United Nations that Australia would cut its carbon emissions by 43% of 2005 levels by the year 2030.

That’s nearly two-thirds more than the commitment from the previous government.

Now, that target has passed parliament as part of the administration’s Climate Bill — putting Australia more in line with the goals of other developed economies.

Some critics say it still doesn’t go far enough — and even supporters call it a largely “symbolic” piece of legislation.

It does require the government to track its progress toward reaching its goals — and report each year to parliament.

“We have a lot more work to do," Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said Thursday.

The next step is getting down to more specifics and details about reaching the targets.

That includes a technical and design paper to establish emission baselines across different industries — from coal mines and aluminum smelters to airlines.

The consultation process remains open until the end of the month — and the required reforms will begin next July.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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