Australian prime minister pulls out of agreed Paris climate change targets

The Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned plans to set a new greenhouse gas emissions reduction target – following a revolt by his MPs.

The prime minister’s last-minute turnaround allowed him to “stave off a leadership challenge from disgruntled conservatives within his own party”.

The abandoned energy policy – called the National Energy Guarantee – promised to cut Australia’s emissions by 26% from 2005 levels by 2030, the FT reports. Cutting emissions to this degree would be necessary for Australia to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement.

The New York Times reports that the proposed policy “was not wildly ambitious” and that, even if it did go ahead, “agriculture and other industries would still have to do more to meet the nation’s commitments under the [Paris] deal.”

The New York Times reports that the decision has left climate and biological scientists in the country feeling “frustrated” and “increasingly worried”. “All it does is reconfirm that they have no interest in doing anything about climate change or the Great Barrier Reef really,” Jon Brodie, a coral reef scientist at James Cook University, told the newspaper.

Climate Home News reports that former prime minister Tony Abbott, who played a pivotal role in the rebellion against Turnball, cited Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement in his argument against the energy policy.

On Sunday, Abbott tweeted: “Emissions targets that made sense three years ago when all countries were supposed to be in Paris and we didn’t need policy change and wouldn’t face economic dislocation do not make sense now.”

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