Australia unveils new targets for carbon emission reduction

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday pledged a national target of at least 26 percent emissions reductions compared to 2005 levels. Morrison was sworn in last month after Peter Dutton stepped down amid…

Australia unveils new targets for carbon emission reduction

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday pledged a national target of at least 26 percent emissions reductions compared to 2005 levels. Morrison was sworn in last month after Peter Dutton stepped down amid an impasse over refugees held in detention centers on the Pacific island nation of Nauru.

The target will require Australia to take as many as 45,000 refugees from conflict zones or from countries with poor human rights records over the next decade, Morrison said. The plan will prevent the government from deporting any refugee to countries where they might face torture or persecution, Morrison said.

The centre-right coalition government of Morrison supports the policies of his predecessor, Tony Abbott, who blocked a previous emissions target sought by then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull resigned last September as opposition leader before his own leadership came under pressure.

Transport, housing and agriculture will have the biggest cuts, the government said. Households are also set to pay about A$350 ($270) a year in more expensive electricity prices because of the target.

The targets are agreed to at the 12th U.N. climate conference held in Bonn, Germany, in December.

Transport has the largest emissions profile of any sector in Australia.

Australia’s economy — home to multinational companies including mining titan BHP Billiton Ltd. and steelmaker BlueScope Steel Ltd. — is “relatively vulnerable” to any collapse in energy prices caused by investment cuts, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

“Any downside impact from measures to reduce electricity prices and energy reliability can be offset, in our view, by the growth in the sectors the government has identified as responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions,” Moody’s said in a note.

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