Although there have been criticisms of its non-binding nature, this announcement signals a shift within Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government. His decision will be bolstered as Australian newspapers have called for Rupert Murdoch’s powerful media company, News Corp – which has consistently downplayed global warming – for tough climate policy since this month.
Australia, the world’s second largest coal exporter after Indonesia, has always been reluctant to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, even though the country has already signed the Paris climate agreement. For example, leaked comments on a draft of the upcoming IPCC climate report, owned by the BBC and Unearthed, a research platform of Greenpeace, show that the Australian government has proposed to overturn the conclusion that shutting down Coal-fired power plants is essential.
On Tuesday, I barely explained how the Morrison administration plans to cut the country’s emissions. The Prime Minister confirmed that he does not intend to reduce coal and gas production. The government does not want to tighten targets for 2030 – between 26 and 28 percent fewer emissions than in 2005.
Nor does he intend to impose climate neutrality in legislation. Morrison sees the solutions in “technology, not tax”: he said he wants to invest more than €10 billion in technologies that reduce emissions.
The announcement was preceded by months of political bargaining with Morrison’s coalition partner. This national party mainly represents suburban areas, where coal is mined, and is more conservative on climate issues than Morrison’s liberal party.
Former Prime Minister, Liberal Malcolm Turnbull, knows better than anyone that climate policy in Australia is a hot political topic. Among other things, he tried to impose emissions restrictions on the energy sector, but this plan was not adopted. Partly because of his climate policy, his party turned against him and he was forced to resign in 2018.
Turnbull himself has largely blamed the tabloids for conservative billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s resignation, he told Australia’s ABC last year. They have consistently attacked Turnbull’s climate proposals, particularly in the comments.
It is difficult to say how influential these newspapers really are in Australia. It is clear that they reach millions of Australians, even the majority in their own words, and that politicians attach great importance to their reporting. In any case, several polls indicate that a majority of Australians support net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
No wonder it came to prominence when News Corp’s papers embraced climate neutrality in 2050 on their front pages this month. She started a series of articles entitled Mission Zero, “So We Can Help Australia Towards a Zero Emissions Future”. “You cannot win an election in Australia without the support of the Murdoch media,” former Prime Minister Turnbull said. Morrison should seize this opportunity.
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