Australia election: PM-elect Anthony Albanese vows to end ‘climate wars’

Australia’s new leader Anthony Albanese has promised to make a big shift in energy policy and “end climate wars”.

Mr Albanese’s Labor Party ended almost a decade of conservative government after the country’s ruling coalition was swept away by a wave of support for candidates campaigning for more climate action.

He will be sworn in as prime minister on Monday, days after his party clinched its first electoral win since 2007. However, it is not yet clear if his party will have a majority in parliament or if it would have to enter a coalition to form government.

“We have an opportunity now to end the climate wars in Australia,” Mr Albanese told BBC News shortly after his electoral victory.

“Australian business know that good action on climate change is good for jobs and good for our economy, and I want to join the global effort.”

The prime minister-elect has also promised to adopt more ambitious emission targets, though he has so far refused to phase out coal use.

After the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020, the Scott Morrison government was accused by scientists of being “wilfully negligent when it comes to climate”, and of failing to protect biodiversity.

Labor has set a target of cutting greenhouse gases by 43 per cent by 2030, which business groups support, but environmentalists say it should be nearer 60 to 75 per cent.

After taking oath on Monday, Mr Albanese is set to fly to Tokyo to attend the Quad summit with leaders of Japan, India and the US. He is expected to outline his government’s goals on the climate crisis in the summit.

“Obviously the Quad leaders meeting is an absolute priority for us,” he told journalists on Sunday. “It’s an opportunity for us to send a message that there is a change of government and that there will be a change of policies on things like climate change.

“I will return to Australia on Wednesday and then we’ll get down to business.”

Nicknamed “Albo”, the Labor leader had promised Australians “safe change” and unity in an election campaign that was dominated by the post-pandemic recovery, a cost of living crisis and national security, against the backdrop of China’s increasing dominance in the region.

Although Mr Morrison has conceded defeat, as millions of votes are yet to be counted, Mr Albanese’s new government could end up a minority one, with Greens and independents holding the balance of power.

Neither of the major parties appeared certain to win the minimum 76 seats required for a majority in the 151-seat Australian parliament.

With 70 per cent of votes counted on Sunday, Mr Morrison’s Liberal coalition had 51 seats while Labor had 72. Independents and the Greens held 14 seats, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. A further 14 seats remained in doubt.

The gains by the Greens and independents, according to Labor former deputy party leader Tanya Plibersek, shows that there was now a clear message on climate action from the electorate.

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