Labor’s opposition resources spokesperson Madeleine King has come out in support of thermal coal exports beyond 2050, in a position at odds with achieving the ambitions of the Paris climate accord. In an interview with The Australian, the West Australian MP simultaneously backed Anthony Albanese’s commitment of net-zero emissions by 2050 and continued export of both thermal and metallurgical coal for decades to come. “I think we go beyond the middle of the century, I really do,” she said. King said Labor was “absolutely not supportive one bit” of a push by Malcolm Turnbull for a moratorium on new coalmines in the Hunter Valley and that coal will experience “a slow gradual decline in demand”. According to analysis by Climate Analytics, coal for electricity needs to be phased out globally by 2040 to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the desired outcome of the Paris climate agreement. King’s comments come ahead of a virtual climate summit of world leaders this week, to be livestreamed for public viewing. The United States and China released a joint statement ahead of the summit pledging to cooperate to tackle the climate crisis.
The first of new bi-weekly national cabinet meetings focused on the country’s vaccine rollout will be held today. Options on the table for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s meeting with state and territory leaders include accelerating vaccinations for people aged over 50, prioritising aged care and disability support workers, and opening up mass-vaccination sites. Opposition health spokesman Mark Butler said the Prime Minister must come out of the meeting with a clear plan that gives more responsibility to the states. “We need state governments that have the experience and the capability in the mass delivery of healthcare to be a central part of this vaccine rollout,” he said. Just 1.5 million vaccine doses have been administered across Australia so far, including roughly 22,000 on Saturday. Burnet Institute epidemiologist Mike Toole said Australia is about 90th in the world in terms of vaccines delivered per capita.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton will today officially overrule Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell’s decision to strip the citations from more than 3000 special forces soldiers, which was recommended by the Brereton inquiry into war crimes. Dutton’s ruling means soldiers will retain their unit citations unless they are found guilty of a war crime, are sacked as an accessory to an alleged crime, or dismissed for failing to uphold army standards. Justice Brereton’s report found up to 25 special forces soldiers were involved in the alleged murders of at least 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.
The global death toll from Covid-19 passed three million on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The figure is believed to be a significant underestimation because of possible government concealment and cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak. Brazil accounted for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, with deaths running at about 3000 a day as the country faces a highly contagious variant that is sending more young people into intensive care and prompting shortages in critical sedatives. India meanwhile is experiencing its own surge, with more than 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week. The country has suspended vaccine exports as the crisis worsens. The situation is more promising in countries with advanced vaccination rollouts. In the US, where more than 560,000 lives have been lost, hospitalisations and deaths have dropped and businesses are reopening.