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Australia’s PM Abandons Plan to Enshrine Carbon Emission Cuts

Australian PM Scraps Plan to Legalize Carbon Emissions Cuts

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Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, April 23, 2018. (VOA)

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned plans to enshrine the nation’s targeted limits of greenhouse gas emissions into law in the face of an angry revolt by his party’s staunch conservatives.

Australia set a target to cut carbon emissions by 26 percent below 2005 by the year 2030, as part of the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, commonly known as the Paris Agreement.

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Turnbull sought to include the targets in the government’s National Energy Guarantee, but he conceded Monday that he could not get the legislation through the House of Representatives, where his Liberal Party holds a fragile one-seat majority. The conservative opposition, led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, argue that the government should be focused on cutting soaring electricity prices.

The internal revolt has led to speculation that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will challenge Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party, which both men have denied. It also comes amid a new voter survey showing the government trailing the opposition Labor Party 55 percent to 45 percent. The next national elections are scheduled to be held next May. (VOA)

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Australia Serious About Tackling Climate Change: Prime Minister Morrison

Pacific nations have debts of about $4 billion. Creditors include the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, while $1 billion is owed to China.

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Australia, Climate
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is presented with a gift as he arrives in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has wrapped up a three-day trip to the South Pacific to reassure vulnerable island nations that Canberra is serious about tackling climate change.

Morrison told Pacific Island leaders that Australia would meet its international obligations to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris climate change agreement.

Many low-lying communities fear that rising sea levels will force them from their homes. In Samoa, coastal villages are already making plans to relocate to higher ground in the nation’s volcanic interior.

Morrison’s three-day trip to Vanuatu and Fiji has been described by foreign policy experts as mostly a success.

great barrier reef, Climate
A large piece of coral can be seen in the lagoon on Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Bundaberg town in Queensland, Australia. VOA

Coal a sticking point

But climate change remains a source of friction between Australia and its smaller neighbors. Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama criticized Canberra for not doing more to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the economy’s reliance on coal. Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of carbon pollution.

Australia is also eager to counter China’s growing strategic influence in the South Pacific, although Morrison insists all countries should work together.

“We are here because we are for the independent sovereignty and prosperity of Vanuatu because they are our Pacific neighbors and family. That is why we are here,” he said. “Our objectives and our motives here, I think, are very transparent to our family and friends here in the Pacific, particularly here in Vanuatu. This question is put to me all the time. I mean, we do not have to choose. We just have to work cooperatively together.”

Australia, Meat free,Hurricane, climate change, economic
Tire tracks left by a truck can be seen in a drought-stricken paddock on Kahmoo Station property, located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Australia has also mended a previously fraught relationship with Fiji. Prime Minister Bainimarama is a former commander of the Fijian military who deposed an elected government in 2006. Democracy was restored to Fiji, an archipelago of about 900,000 people, in 2014.

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Countering China

Pacific nations have debts of about $4 billion. Creditors include the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, while $1 billion is owed to China.

Experts say that some South Pacific countries have preferred to take out loans from China rather than accept grants from Australia because the process was simpler and less bureaucratic. (VOA)