PM unveils Australia’s 2050 net-zero plan

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)



Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a whole-of-economy plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050



  • Government is now projecting an emissions cut of 30 to 35 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, but will stick with the target of 26 to 28 per cent
  • Existing technologies will get Australia 85 per cent of the way there, and emerging technologies will close the gap to get to net-zero by 2050
  • Main policy levers include investment in technology, incentives and offsets (including soil carbon, land sequestration, carbon capture and storage and offsets from the Indo-Pacific region)
  • At least $20 billion will be invested in low-emissions technology by 2030
  • Productivity Commission will monitor the socio-economic impact every five years
  • Gross national income is expected to be 1.6 per cent higher to 2050
  • Government is promising it will not raise the cost of electricity or put industries, regions or jobs at risk.


Australia has pinned its hopes on existing technologies and unproven breakthroughs to achieve a 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will take the commitment to the United Nations COP26 climate conference which starts on Sunday in Glasgow.

Australia will not update its 2030 goals despite international pressure to do more in the next decade to limit global temperature rises.

Instead, the government released new projections showing the nation would reduce its emissions 30 to 35 per cent on 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

That outstrips the existing 26 to 28 per cent commitment but remains well short of nations like the United States which has pledged a 50 to 52 per cent reduction.

Mr Morrison on Tuesday revealed the government’s plan to reach 2050 carbon neutrality relies on existing policies.

With emissions having reduced 20 per cent since 2005, half the remaining 80 per cent will rest on a technology roadmap.

Ultra-low cost solar has joined clean hydrogen, energy storage, low emissions steel and aluminium, carbon capture and storage, and soil carbon on the map’s priority technologies.

The government has committed to spending $20 billion on low emissions technologies by 2030.

That is expected to trigger between $60 billion and $100 billion of public-private investments over the same period.

Global technology trends are expected to account for 15 per cent of emissions reduction by 2050, while international and domestic offsets represent 10 to 20 per cent in cuts.

A further 15 per cent is expected to be achieved through technology breakthroughs.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said methane-reducing livestock feed, low-emissions cement, more efficient solar panels and software could fall into that category.

The prime minister said there would be no legislation or mandates attached to the target.

“It will not increase energy bills. It is not a revolution but a careful evolution to take advantage of changes in our markets,” he told reporters in Canberra.

The Productivity Commission will monitor the socio-economic impact of climate action on regional communities every five years from 2023.

Mr Morrison said he would “eventually” release modelling promising jobs, regions and industries will be protected.

The plan claims people will be $2000 better off on average in 2050 compared with inaction, and floats the creation of 62,000 new roles in regional mining and heavy industry.

It also suggests gross national income will be 1.6 per cent higher and electricity costs will not rise.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the plan was a scam, accusing the coalition of having net-zero modelling, net-zero legislation and net-zero unity.

“The word ‘plan’ doesn’t constitute a plan, no matter how often you say it and what font it is printed in,” he said.

Labor’s climate spokesman Chris Bowen said he had seen more detail on fortune cookies.

The ALP has committed to releasing a 2050 emissions reduction plan before the election, but has not revealed if it will put a 2030 goal to voters.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the commitment as heroic because of Australia’s reliance on coal and other emissions-heavy industries.

His government is chairing the COP26 summit, where more ambitious 2030 climate-change action is expected from many nations.

It is unclear what concessions the Nationals were handed in exchange for supporting a 2050 goal aside from Resources Minister Keith Pitt returning to cabinet.

Some Nationals backbenchers, including outspoken Queensland senator Matt Canavan, vowed to continue campaigning against the policy.

There is internal concern the coalition could bleed votes to conservative outfits including Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.




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