Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday stripped requirements for reducing greenhouse emissions from his centerpiece energy policy in the face of political opposition, although the country remains a signatory to the Paris Agreement.
While stopping short of following the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump and withdrawing from the global climate accord, Australia removed requirements from its National Energy Guarantee plan that would have mandated that greenhouse emissions from its power industry decrease by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
As Australia's east coast suffers through its worst drought in 60 years, Turnbull said he would seek to legislate emission reductions in the future. He added that his government would move legislation to reduce emissions when it had sufficient support from its own party. Despite the impasse, Turnbull said the government was committed to its Paris accord commitments. "The legislation to move forward with the emissions component of the National Energy Guarantee will not be able to pass the House of Representatives," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra. Turnbull has a parliamentary majority of just one. With several rank-and-file lawmakers vowing they would not support any legislated emission reductions, such mandates are likely to remain elusive until at least a year.
Conservatives, led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who committed Australia to the Paris accord when he led the country, argue reducing emissions puts Australia at an economic disadvantage after the United States withdrew from the Paris accord in 2017.
Australia, one of the largest carbon emitters per capita because of its reliance on coal-fired power plants, is among nearly 200 countries committed to the Paris Agreement. The United States in 2017 became the only signatory to withdraw from the accord.