The Albanese government’s annual climate change statement highlights positive moves on domestic climate and energy policy, but major challenges remain, especially on exported emissions, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

“The Albanese government has taken a number of positive steps on climate change since being elected 18 months ago, but there remain big challenges to rein in Australia’s significant contribution to the world’s emissions problems,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“ACF commends the government for enshrining emissions reduction targets in law, reforming the safeguard mechanism, signing the global methane pledge and facilitating the big renewables build needed to transform Australia’s electricity system from dirty to clean.

“The Climate Change Authority has confirmed it can now project emissions reductions from big industry as a result of the government’s strengthening of the safeguard mechanism.

“But overall, emissions are still slightly rising. They are going down in the electricity sector, where the government has strong policies, but they are still going up in transport and agriculture, where there are not yet clear, sector-wide plans to cut emissions.

“Climate emissions from transport are a big problem. The government has made some positive strides on supporting electric vehicle uptake, but it must stop dragging its heels on fuel efficiency standards.

“Following the decade of climate inaction, there is no time to waste.

“Gas still makes up a big chunk of Australia’s emissions profile. The government needs to cooperate with the states to get gas out of Australia’s domestic and export economies.

“But Australia’s climate impact goes beyond the emissions that are generated domestically.

Analysis released by ACF this week shows emissions from the continued approval of and support for coal and gas mining – much of it for export – far outweighs the impact of emissions-cutting programs at home.

“Frustratingly, the Albanese government is taking genuine steps to cut climate emissions at home while enabling the increased and ongoing export of coal and gas to other countries.”

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