Ahead of COP26, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia’s target of net zero emissions by 2050. However, the country will not update its 2030 target of 26-28% emissions reductions from 2005 levels, despite recent estimates that it will reach at least 35% reductions by 2030 (AP News).

The plan for net zero by 2050 did not immediately provide extensive details about how Australia plans to reach that target. However, the government did elaborate on a few aspects, estimating that current technologies would provide 85% of emissions reductions, and future emerging technologies the remaining 15%. Further, coal and gas production will not be eliminated, and there will be no increased cost to individuals. Australia also determined it will not commit to cutting methane emissions by 30% by 2030, a goal the European Union and United States pledged in September (Reuters). The Australia Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction claimed the only way it could meet that goal would be to reduce cattle and sheep numbers, as close to half of the country’s methane emissions comes from the agricultural industry (AP News).

Experts are critical of Australia’s plan. In order to reach net zero emissions by 2050, they say the government will need to implement measures beyond those outlined so far. Further, although agriculture leads the country in methane production, about one-third of the country’s methane emissions comes from the gas and mining industries, where reductions could be made if the plan included an end to coal and gas production. Some commentators are saying the plan is the “weakest climate plan among the G20’s developed nations” (CNN).