Australian state passes bill to reduce emissions to zero by 2050

By Charlotte McLaughlin, Feb 24, 2017, 12:41 2 minute reading

The southern Australian state of Victoria passed the climate change bill yesterday.

The coast of Victoria, Australia 

The legislature of Victoria, Australia has passed a climate change bill committing the state to reduce emissions to zero by 2050. Achieving this would imply phasing out super-pollutants like hydroflurocarbons (HFCs).

HFCs are some of the fastest-growing climate pollutants. R404A, an HFC commonly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning, has a global warming potential (GWP) of 3,922 (in other words, 3,922 times that of carbon dioxide).

The Victoria bill sets out how to achieve the long-term target by “determining the amount of total greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the State, including any removals of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere due to activities within the State; and (b) deducting from that amount any eligible offsets from outside of the State”.

Options for reducing emissions to zero may see Victoria take part in an emissions trading scheme or introduce carbon capture measures. 

The state government will determine targets for each year once they have received feedback from experts on how to achieve this ambitious goal. It will then give relevant departments and local government “a description of actions” that they need to achieve over the next five years to work towards the goal of reducing emissions completely.

Extreme weather nudging Australia in right direction

The legislation marks an important step for Australia on climate change, whose federal and state governments have been traditionally hesitant to act.

The conservative Liberal Party and the primarily rural-based National Party, who control the national government, revoked Australia's carbon trading scheme two years ago.

Australia is also the least-active country among the biggest global economies that make up the G20 when it comes to climate protection, according to a 2016 report from Climate Transparency, an NGO.

Public opinion is shifting in the wake of Australia experiencing record temperatures of over 47oC in the past few weeks. A recent poll by Essential Media puts the number of people who agree with the statement that "climate change is happening and is caused by human activity" at 60%.

According to Accelerate Australia & NZ reports that the federal government in Canberra will table an HFC phase-down plan by the end of next month and pass it by June of this year.

By Charlotte McLaughlin

Feb 24, 2017, 12:41

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