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Australia's First Climate Change Legislation

Australia’s parliament has passed its first climate change legislation in over a decade, enshrining carbon dioxide reduction targets into law for the first time in the country’s history.

Ulhuru at dawn

The bill, drafted by the Labor Party-led 'green leaning' coalition that took power in May, mandates that Australia cut greenhouse gas emissions 43 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050. The country’s Energy and Climate Minister, Chris Bowen, will be required to provide lawmakers with a progress report each year, and government agencies must now take the new emissions targets into account when making financial and development decisions.

Although Australia’s new targets are still behind those of the US, UK, and European Union, officials have framed them as a symbolic breakthrough. The bill’s passage “sends a message to the world that Australia is serious about driving down emissions, and serious about reaping the economic opportunities from affordable renewable energy,” Bowen said in a statement.

The last time the country passed global warming legislation was in 2011, when it adopted a national carbon pricing scheme that was repealed two years later.

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