Australia has submitted more ambitious climate targets to the United Nations, with the government declaring the country has turned a corner on the issue.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed an updated version of the country’s nationally determined contribution to the UN’s framework convention on climate change on Thursday morning.
The signing took place in Canberra alongside Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen and industry stakeholders, including business groups, trade unions and energy advocates.
Mr Albanese has written to the UN’s executive secretary Patricia Espinosa to convey Australia’s new stance on climate change under the Paris Agreement.
The prime minister said the updated submission for a 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 would provide certainty and point the country in the right direction.
“What today demonstrated … is an opportunity that Australia has to end the climate wars, an opportunity for solutions, not arguments,” Mr Albanese said.
“It’s all about the short-term capital investment that’s required, but then you get the long-term benefit, because the cheaper, cleaner energy flows well into the future, and that’s what sets Australia up for the future.”
The government’s emissions reduction plan of 43 per cent by the end of the decade was higher than the 26-28 per cent target proposed by the previous government.
Mr Bowen said the updated submission sent a message to the world on increased action to reduce emissions.
“Today, Australia turns the climate corner,” he said.
“For years, the Australian government told the world that it was all too hard, told Australians it was too hard.
“We’ll provide the framework for renewable energy, for storage and transmission, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, and particularly in Australia’s regions.”
The update to the submission comes ahead of the next UN climate summit in Egypt in November.
The move was welcomed by environmental groups, with the Australian Conservation Foundation calling it a “new dawn” for the country.
“The government can now get on with the nation-building opportunities to cut climate pollution to reach this target and go further,” the foundation’s chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said.
“We do need to do more to prevent the worst climate damage. Today is a big leap forward and represents real progress.”
Carbon Market Institute chief executive John Connor said the move restored Australia’s credibility on climate.
“Today’s commitment is a really important first step in signposting a new era for investment in climate action for Australia,” he said.
Mr Bowen said the emphasis on greater levels of renewable energy was even more critical in the wake of the energy crisis gripping the east of the country.
“That makes this work more important, not less, setting the framework for the future, getting the investment going that has been so lacking,” he said.
Business Council chief Jennifer Westacott said it was time to move beyond the debate about targets and “get on with the ‘how'”.
“To meet this challenge businesses are going to need to make huge investments in new technology with long horizons – today’s commitment will help deliver the certainty they need,” she said.
“The global momentum for decarbonisation is unstoppable and driven by a confluence of global forces, including the movement of capital markets, technology change and a growing community appetite for action.
“Australia can’t afford to stall progress again because failure will see Australians miss out on new opportunities, new industries and better jobs.”