Anthony Albanese pledges carbon cuts while backing coal exports for ‘decades’


“In fact, the global steel and aluminium industries – all needed to build solar panels and wind towers – will continue to demand high-quality Australian coal for decades to come.”

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The speech comes as Labor is under attack from both the Nationals and the Greens in regional Australia. It has set out a “net zero” climate target for 2050 while waiting for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to reveal government policy.

Despite speculation the government would release its technology road map for climate change in recent days, the plan has been put back while Energy Minister Angus Taylor emphasises investments in new ways to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Taylor said on Friday the government would take a “technology-based long-term emissions reduction strategy” to the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow in November but he argued against a “net zero” target.

“Technology offers the best prospect of maintaining and even strengthening our position as an energy export leader while supporting reductions in global emissions,” Mr Taylor said. “But ultimately someone has to beat the blank page – and of course that is the role of the government and that will be the focus of our technology road map when we release it in due course.”

Mr Albanese will point out the continued need for coking coal to produce metal and emphasise other measures to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions, the key benchmark for meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The global community wants Australia to reduce emissions at home in a genuine way rather than with the “sleazy accounting trick” of using carryover credits from the Kyoto agreement, the draft speech says.

Mr Albanese will deliver the speech in the Hunter electorate held by Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, who suffered a 9.5 per cent swing against him at the last election.

With Labor retaining only a handful of seats in regional and rural areas, Mr Fitzgibbon has warned against policies that appeal to inner-city voters but turn away workers in mining and other industries that depend on fossil fuels.

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Mr Albanese has pledged a climate target of net zero emissions by 2050, a stance backed by Mr Fitzgibbon, but has pointed out for several months that United Nations targets cover each country’s domestic emissions rather than its exports.

The speech appeals to regional voters to back Labor rather than swinging to the Nationals or Greens.

“Who can Australians turn to?” he asks in the draft. “Not the Nationals, who say nothing needs to change ever.

“Not the Greens, who say everything has to change tomorrow. “Both are about symbolism before substance, locked in a culture war. They’re as bad as each other.”

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