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Australia says it will hit 2030 emissions target without counting old carbon credits

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MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (Reuters) –  Australia on Friday said it would achieve its 2030 carbon emissions pledge under the Paris climate agreement without counting carbon credits from overachieving on its previous climate targets, marking a sharp change of policy.

The country’s push to use old carbon credits to count toward future emissions targets was a major sticking point at the U.N. climate summit a year ago when big emitters were pushed to take more aggressive action to curb global warming. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a Pacific Island climate forum the country was achieving and exceeding its global targets.

“Today I can announce that Australia is very confident that we will now achieve our 2030 targets without the need to draw on our carry over credits,” Morrison said at the virtual forum.

Australia’s emissions are now projected to be 29% below 2005 levels by 2030 compared with its Paris accord target of cutting carbon emissions by 26% to 28%, based on recent growth in renewable energy and what could be achieved under an A$18 billion ($13 billion) technology investment plan the government outlined in September.

The country had wanted to use credits assigned to developed economies in 1997 under the Kyoto Protocol, a precursor climate accord, when they agreed to a collective target of a 5.2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012.

Morrison’s policy change, however, was not good enough to secure a speaking slot for the country at the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday, co-hosted by Britain, marking the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Morrison shrugged off the snub, saying that New Zealand, too, was not invited to speak at the London summit, which aims to push countries to upgrade their emissions-cutting pledges.

“So Australia’s policies, when it comes to reducing emissions, are set here in Australia, in Australia’s national interests,” Morrison told reporters.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul and Swati Pandey)

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