Political leaders are debating Australia’s 2030 climate target

Debate has sparked over Australia's 2030 climate target, as the Opposition Leader says 43% emissions reduction isn't achievable.
Australia's major parties are warring over 2030 climate targets.

Australia’s two major political parties are arguing over the 2030 climate target.

Under the current Labor Government, Australia has a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Over the weekend, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton announced a Coalition Government would scrap this, leading to speculation that, if elected, it would pull Australia out of the Paris Agreement.

Here’s what you need to know.

Peter Dutton

On Friday, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton told The Australian newspaper that a Coalition Government would scrap Labor’s 2030 emissions target if elected.

Dutton said there was “no sense in signing up to targets you don’t have any prospect of achieving”.

This resulted in speculation that a Coalition Government would pull Australia out of the Paris Agreement. Dutton has since clarified this is not the case.

Paris Agreement

In 2015, Australia was one of 196 parties who signed up to the Paris Agreement, a promise to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The United Nations states that to achieve this goal, the world must reach net zero by 2050. Net zero means balancing how many greenhouse gas emissions enter the atmosphere against how many are taken out.

Signatories to the Agreement must have progressive targets to cut emissions.

Australia’s target

Australia’s 2030 target, passed into law by the Labor Government, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 43% below what they were at in 2005.

Australia is not on track to reach this. Last month, the Government’s climate change department revealed Australia will achieve a reduction of 42% by 2030 at the current rate.

The Labor Government’s emission targets are legislated, meaning they can’t be scrapped unless a new law is passed. The Coalition voted against the target when it became law in 2022.

Climate experts warn a failure to meet the target will cause significantly more extreme weather events, sea level rises, and food scarcity.


Coalition climate change spokesperson Ted O’Brien has confirmed that it would not maintain the 2030 target if it were elected.

“We won’t be pretending Labor’s 2030 target is achievable,” O’Brien said. “We won’t be shy in holding Labor to account for locking Australia into a target it cannot meet.”

O’Brien said the Government has “basically locked Australia into a target without knowing how it’s going to get there, how much it’s going to cost, or who’s going to pay for it.”

If elected, O’Brien clarified that the Coalition is “committed to Paris”, saying any suggestion it will pull out “is a lie”. The Coalition also says it will still be committed to net zero by 2050.

However, Dutton today said the Coalition would not set a 2030 target until after the next election.


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese slammed Dutton’s initial comments yesterday, saying: “Peter Dutton is worse than Scott Morrison on climate change.”

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said the 2030 reduction is “achievable”. He added: “Dutton’s giving up on it. We’re saying we’re still working to achieve it.”

Greens Leader Adam Bandt has accused both major parties of failing to take the Paris Agreement seriously. He said: “Labor cries Paris crocodile tears while opening more coal and gas mines, while the Liberals don’t even pretend to care.”


Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie described the Coalition’s climate policy as a “disaster”, adding: “The consequence for Australians would be more extreme heat, fires and floods.”

The Business Council of Australia, a key business group that supported the Labor Government’s climate targets in 2022, told TDA the private sector needs certainty in order to get to net zero by 2050.

“Already announced and legislated targets should remain in place,” CEO Bran Black said.

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