The new Labor administration in Australia views the world’s climate emergency as a chance to generate employment, as it introduced laws to cement an emissions reduction goal on Wednesday.

Minister for Climate and Energy Chris Bowen said to Reuters the law would send a message that Australia was “open for business” and “back as a good international citizen” after a decade of political infighting.

“The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity,” he said, adding that the resource-rich country could become a renewable energy powerhouse.

Australia’s biggest exports include iron ore sent to China, coal, and liquefied natural gas.

Bowen predicted that clean energy employment will be produced in the battery manufacturing industry as well as commodities such as aluminum, lithium, copper, cobalt, and nickel.

“There is a significant export market waiting for us if we get the levers right,” he added.

Legislation requiring a 43 percent decrease in emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050 was a start, and its implementation would be overseen by an independent climate change body.

“We see 43 percent as a floor on what our country can achieve,” he added, a position endorsed by industry organizations on Wednesday.

The law is opposed by the conservative Liberal and Nations alliance, which was thrown out of power in a May election in which Greens and independents campaigning for climate change action gained record seats against a background of increasing fires and floods.

The administration is in talks with the Greens, who control the upper chamber and seek more aggressive climate measures.

As he visited Australia this week, Alok Sharma, the president of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, said the Australian government “had a fresh mandate from their voters to tackle climate change” and he was shocked by demonstrators holding signs proclaiming “2050 is too late”

“Our populations know that the world is running out of time, and we also know if we act now we will reap an economic as well as environmental dividend – jobs, growth and a boost for all of our economies,” he said in Fiji on Wednesday.

He warned that unless nations act immediately, the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would “slip irreversibly out of reach”

The administration has said that it would not support the Greens’ proposal to halt new coal and gas projects.

In a television interview on Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese indicated that Australia would not stop exporting coal because its consumers would get it from other sources.

“What you would see is a lot of jobs lost, you would see a significant loss to our economy, significant less taxation revenue for education, health and other services, and that coal wouldn’t lead to a reduction in global emissions,” he told the ABC.

Source: Reuters

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