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‘Dutton worse than Morrison’: Anthony Albanese goes on attack over climate

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Katina Curtis
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Anthony Albanese has labelled Peter Dutton as “worse than Scott Morrison” on climate change.
Anthony Albanese has labelled Peter Dutton as “worse than Scott Morrison” on climate change. Credit: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

Anthony Albanese has reignited the climate wars, labelling Peter Dutton as “worse than Scott Morrison” after the Opposition Leader suggested the Coalition would scrap interim emissions reduction targets in favour of an overarching push to net zero by 2050.

The Prime Minister has all but guaranteed climate policy will be a central plank of the election fight after pledging Labor will reveal its 2035 target early next year.

Meanwhile, Coalition frontbenchers insist they can do most of the heavy lifting on emissions cuts close to 2050, a position that experts say makes them heavily reliant on yet-to-be-developed technology.

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Mr Albanese went on the attack on Monday over comments made by Mr Dutton over the weekend, saying he was proud his Government had only had one climate policy — a 43 per cent reduction on emissions by 2030 — and was sticking to it.

“You can’t shape the future if you’re afraid of it, and Peter Dutton is afraid of the future,” he said.

“He’s incapable of leading Australia towards the future that we need. Peter Dutton is worse than Scott Morrison on climate change. He is all negativity and no plan.”

Peter Dutton during question time.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton suggested the Coalition would scrap interim emissions reduction targets in favour of an overarching push to net zero by 2050. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

However, he acknowledged Australia was currently on track only for a 42 per cent reduction, but said “significant new policies” unveiled since December put the country on track.

Mr Dutton told The Australian that Labor “just have no hope of achieving the targets and there’s no sense signing up to targets you don’t have any prospect of achieving”.

After ministers claimed this amounted to wanting to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the Opposition further clarified it remained committed to the international climate agreement and the goal of having net zero emissions by 2050.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said the reporting of Mr Dutton’s comments was “disingenuous”.

“What we’re saying is that we won’t have a linear pathway. There will be a ramp-up at the end in us achieving that goal of net zero by 2050,” he said.

But Grattan Institute climate policy director Tony Wood said that approach would make the task much harder and more dependent on nascent technology in areas such as agriculture and heavy industry and transport.

“What you can’t do is say, we won’t do anything until midnight the night before the 30th of December 2050. You can’t get to net zero on that basis,” he told The West.

“You’ve got to be very confident that those technologies are going to be available later because they’re going to have to do a whole lot more work and a whole lot less time.”

Business Council of Australia boss Bran Black said significant investments were needed to transition to net zero and legislated targets helped that.

“Interim targets are critical to achieving net zero, providing important milestones to track progress while giving investors certainty to invest,” he said.

Mr Albanese said walking away from the Paris Agreement would put Australia in the company of just Libya, Yemen and Iran.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries have to submit targets for cutting emissions, known as nationally determined contributions, at regular intervals. The next round, laying out targets to reach by 2035, is due early next year.

Each subsequent target is supposed to be higher than the previous one and while weakening or abandoning targets is not technically a breach of or withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, it would not be in its spirit.

A formal withdrawal — as Donald Trump tried when he became US president in 2017 — requires one year’s written notice.

Mr Albanese also painted abandoning the climate agreement as a potential security risk, saying it would jeopardise the vital relationships Australia has with Pacific nations just as China is seeking to bolster its standing in the region.

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