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Australia will target net zero carbon emissions by 2050, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, but it will not legislate the goal and instead rely on consumers and companies driving emission reductions.

The adoption of the target will ease international criticisim of Australia which had earlier refused to join countries such as Britain and the United States in pledging zero emmissions by 2050 ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. 

Morrison said Australia, one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, will achieve its net zero target largely through technology development, with government investment totalling A$20 billion ($14.9 billion).

This investment, Morrison said, will reduce the costs of technology such as clean hydrogen, which will increase their use.

Morrison, who faces an expected close election by May 2022, sought to downplay any threat on domestic industries and jobs as a result of reducing emissions.

[Colin Packham]

More: Australia commits to net zero by 2050 target, but won’t legislate goal

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