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Australia: 43% by 2030 emissions reduction is a law

Australia's 43 per cent by 2030 emissions reduction target has become a law. The federal government's landmark climate bill has passed parliament, enshrining its 43 per cent emissions reduction target in law.

Key points:

  • The bill received crucial Senate support from the Greens, Jacqui Lambie Network and independent senator David Pocock.

  • It requires the government to provide annual reports tracking progress towards the goal and ensure future targets go further

  • A technical and design paper is now open for consultation

  • Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen labelled it a "good day for the parliament and Australia".

The bill passed 86 votes to 50.

The Greens, Jacqui Lambie Network and independent senator David Pocock offered critical support to pass the Climate Change Bill in the Senate on Thursday afternoon.

The bill then returned to the lower house after the government agreed to several amendments from independent senator David Pocock aimed at improving transparency and accountability.

Under the legislation, the government must report annually on its progress towards that goal. The Climate Change Authority has also been made responsible for advising on future goals, including the government's 2035 emissions target.

A breakthrough after 'climate wars'

While the bill is largely symbolic, it marks a breakthrough in the legislative gridlock of federal parliament, where attempts to legislate climate action have toppled several prime ministers.

The bill was introduced to parliament on the government's first full sitting day in July.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the legislating of the targets was not the end of the process. "We have a lot more work to do," he said.

"It provides a message to renewable energy investors, storage investors and transmission investors right around the world that Australia is open for business with one set of laws.

"I accepted amendments from the crossbench both in the House of Representatives and the Senate adding things that should go into those reports. "I was more than happy to do that because I want it to be a full and proper accounting."

Next steps on realising target

The government has also proposed requiring the country's highest polluters to shrink emissions by up to 6 per cent per year under the strengthened centrepiece of its commitment to reduce emissions by 43 per cent this decade.

A technical and design paper on the setting of baselines, use of offsets and how to tailor treatment for emissions-intensive and trade-exposed businesses is open for consultation until the end of the month. The government will release a more detailed design proposal for the safeguard mechanism for feedback later this year.

The reforms are slated to take effect from July next year.


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