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Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers makes big net-zero call


Australia has a far way to go to reach its ambitious net-zero emissions targets and must work with private industry to hit its clean energy goals over the next decade, the federal Treasurer has warned.

Jim Chalmers used a speech at the annual Economic and Social Outlook Conference in Melbourne to urge for greater collaboration between government and industry to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.

He announced for the first time the Productivity Commission would be held to a statement of expectations that would make clear that “guiding our country towards a successful net-zero transformation” would be a core focus of the federal agency’s looming revamp.

“It’s important for me to acknowledge that without more decisive action, across all levels of government, working with investors, industry and communities, the energy transition could fall short of what the country needs,” Dr Chalmers said.

“Put simply, to meet our potential – to maximise our advantages in renewable energy and the economic and industrial opportunities that will come from them – we need to get more projects off the ground, faster.”

Australia has a target to reduce its local greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent on 2005 levels by the end of the decade, with an aim to reach net zero by 2050.

In his speech, the Treasurer called for $225bn in additional investment for low emissions technology by 2050.

Dr Chalmers also released a consultation paper to “strengthen” Australia’s capacity to assess climate-related financial risks and advance leadership on sustainability.

The report puts forward six decarbonisation plans related to the energy, industry, agriculture, transport and resources sectors to “map out an efficient and transformative path to net zero”.

Dr Chalmers said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s recent visit to the US to discuss clean energy incentives with President Joe Biden would encourage more Australian clean energy manufacturers to anchor their supply chains locally.

“We need a set of prescriptions right for this transformation and right for this country,” Dr Chalmers said.

“We will complement not copy the priorities and plans of other nations, not just do exactly the same kind of investment with the exact same subsidies. Our plan will be ambitious but uniquely Australian.”

Later on, Mr Albanese will give a speech at the Melbourne event with a theme “Bold ideas for a defining decade” where he is expected to outline Labor’s policy goals for the next year.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.