Australia in Tree-Planting Binge to Help Meet Climate Targets

(Bloomberg) -- Australia aims to plant a billion trees by 2050 as part of a new forestry plan the government says will help the country meet its Paris Agreement climate targets.

A sod-turning spree on that scale would contribute to the removal of 18 million tons of greenhouse gas per year by 2030 in a country currently producing in excess of 500 million tons of CO2-equivalent per year.

The Regional Forestry Hubs plan would also support jobs in a sector that contributes more than A$23 billion ($16.4 billion) to the national economy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a media statement. Australia has the seventh-largest forested area in the world covering 17 percent of its land area, according to the government’s 2018 State of the Forests report.

Morrison has said Australia will comfortably meet its Paris-agreed goal to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, but has no specific policies in place to get there. An OECD report last month said the country would miss the target unless it intensified its efforts to combat climate change.

The importance of coal to the Australian economy is an obstacle to serious efforts to lower carbon emissions, environmentalists say. The country still gets around two-thirds of its power from the fuel, which is also its biggest export earner.

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