Anthony Albanese signs Australia up for G7-backed ‘climate club’

Australia will join a German-initiated climate club, as the federal government aims to seal a free trade deal with the European Union. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed at a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin that Australia had been invited to join the initiative. 

‘Australia and Germany are now united in our deep commitment to tackling climate change, and I commended Chancellor Scholz on his development of Germany’s climate club and was pleased to confirm that Australia will join that high ambition initiative,’ Albanese said at a news conference in Berlin after meeting Scholz, who made the idea a key pillar of his G7 presidency last year.

‘We’re very pleased to join the climate club because we are ambitious and we also see that this isn’t just the right thing to do by the environment, but this is also the right thing to do by jobs and by our economy.

‘One thing we can do is to cooperate and learn off each other, because you can’t address climate change as just a national issue. It has to be by definition, a global response,’ Albanese said. 

Mr Albanese said the pair had ‘warm and productive’ discussions on trade, regional security, defence and the green economy. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

The ‘climate club’ was formed last year – spearheaded by Nobel Prize winner William Nordhaus – as a way to get countries to voluntarily set strong targets to curb climate change.

Other countries that are part of the club include; Argentina, Chile, Denmark, Indonesia, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore and Uruguay.

It is an initiative that has been opposed by emerging economies such as China – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Climate Council research director Simon Bradshaw said it was an important initiative to decarbonise industry and pursue net zero emissions.

‘But (it) must be backed by stronger steps at home to phase out fossil fuels and build the clean industries of the future,’ he said.

‘International collaboration is key to achieving the emissions reductions we need to combat the climate crisis.

‘But we need to see any new international partnerships backed with real action.’

Dr Bradshaw said Australia’s emissions-reduction targets remained weaker than those for Europe, the US and other members of the club.

‘We will now rightly see even more international pressure on Australia to up our game,’ he said.

In 2022, the Australian government committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by the end of the decade.

That was almost double the previous target set as the country continues to work towards net zero emissions by 2050.

In 2022, the Australian government committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by the end of the decade (pictured: Liddell power station in Hunter Valley)

In 2022, the Australian government committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by the end of the decade (pictured: Liddell power station in Hunter Valley)

In March, a law passed through parliament requiring the country’s biggest polluters to reduce their emissions or pay for carbon credits.

The law regulate the emissions of Australia’s 215 biggest polluters. 

Germany is working towards net zero by 2045, setting a preliminary target of an 88 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2040. 

‘I am delighted that Australia has announced it will join the Climate Club,’ Mr Scholz told a media conference in Berlin.

‘We also want to expand our existing energy partnership and develop it into a climate partnership in order to fight climate change even more effectively.’ 

Anthony Albanese will travel to Lithuania later today for the NATO summit on the back on announcing Australia will join the Climate Club.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said tackling climate change would help Australia improve its trade and business ties with Europe.

‘Germany looks to us as a source for clean energy, clean hydrogen and the like,’ he told Sky News on Tuesday.

‘The opportunity for Australian industry in terms of supporting the energy needs of Germany … is massive.’

Australia’s government is in critical talks with the EU to finalise negotiations for a free trade agreement, which have stalled.

Trade Minister Don Farrell has flown to Brussels to try to end the stalemate with the bloc, as the government seeks greater access for Australian agricultural products.

Mr Albanese said the free trade agreement (FTA) would strengthen economic links between Australia and the EU at a time of global uncertainty. 

‘I thank Chancellor Scholz for Germany’s support for an ambitious agreement that delivers for Australian and German businesses, workers and their families,’ Mr Albanese told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

‘Ultimately, our negotiations with the EU will only be concluded when we have a good deal and one that includes new market access for our agricultural products.’

Mr Albanese has invited Mr Scholz to visit Australia as a guest of the government next year.

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