Labor won by offering modest environmental policies. It will have to go further in office to deal with the climate emergency

In his victory speech on election night last Saturday, Labor’s Anthony Albanese promised to turn Australia into a “renewable energy superpower” and end a decade of “climate wars”. This was good news. Under rightwing Coalition governments – an enduring alliance between the Liberal and National parties – Australia was seen as a climate pariah on the world stage. The new prime minister will have to do very little to raise his country’s standing.

From a global perspective, Mr Albanese’s most important policy is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Mr Albanese’s goal is not as ambitious as the UK’s or the EU’s. But it is a marked improvement on the last government and will be well received in neighbouring Pacific nations tired of seeing existential threats from rising sea levels dismissed in Canberra. The Coalition government led by Scott Morrison promised that Australia would reach net zero by 2050, which at best would have seen a 28% cut in climate-altering emissions by the end of the decade. But significantly there were no new policies under that administration to meet this distant objective.

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