Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull drops climate policy

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his government has abandoned plans to set an emissions reduction target in legislation.

Mr Turnbull’s U-turn alters a key plank of his signature energy policy, and follows a revolt by conservative MPs within his government.

It comes amid media reports that Mr Turnbull could face a leadership challenge if the issue is not resolved. Mr Turnbull said the climate policy was not supported by all of his colleagues.

“In politics you have to focus on what you can deliver,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday.

The original commitment would have set in legislation Australia’s pledge for a 26% cut in emissions, based on 2005 levels, by 2030. Australia remains on track to meet its Paris climate accord commitments, despite the change in policy.

Mr Turnbull said he retained the support of party colleagues, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton – who is reported by Australian media outlets to be considering a leadership challenge.

Mr Dutton tweeted on Saturday that he supported the prime minister.

Mr Turnbull said he would not proceed with the emissions target – part of his National Energy Guarantee (NEG) – because it had no prospect of passing through the House of Representatives, where he has only a slim majority.

He said the NEG would still require electricity retailers to cap their prices and provide more “reliable” streams of power.

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