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Morning mail: Labor to unveil emissions plan, Biden and Putin talks, surge in spiders

·7 min read

Friday: The ALP is expected to reveals its medium-term reduction target and measures related to energy economy jobs. Plus: La Niña brings more than just rain


Good morning. Labor is set to reveal an emission reduction target. Biden and Putin are to hold talks about Ukraine. And energy debt in Australia is on the rise, as are spiders, mozzies, mice and mould.

Labor is poised to unveil a new medium-term emissions reduction target and a suite of policy measures – including significant investments in new energy economy jobs – provided the package is given the green light by the shadow cabinet on Friday morning. Guardian Australia understands the shadow climate change minister, Chris Bowen, has prepared options in a range between 35% and 45% for a new 2030 emissions reduction target, depending on the underpinning mechanisms and policy measures the shadow cabinet is prepared to adopt.

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are to hold talks “in the near future” after their top diplomats made no apparent progress in Stockholm towards defusing a standoff over Ukraine, amid fears of a Russian invasion. The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov opted not to make a joint appearance after trading threats during a 40-minute meeting whose short duration indicated there was little chance of a breakthrough. The US has threatened to deploy “high-impact economic measures” if a Russian buildup of an estimated 100,000 troops leads to a larger conflict with Ukraine. Moscow has said it feels threatened by Nato’s close relationship with Kyiv.

A sharp rise in energy debt has prompted calls for intervention as Australian households struggle to keep the lights on. Despite falling energy prices more households are struggling to pay their bills, prompting increasing calls for the government to step in and help. Both the Australian Energy Regulator and the social services group Acoss are calling for an overhaul in how the debt is handled after a report from AER revealed there are 248,520 households across Australia struggling to pay. In other energy-related news, the Australian Energy Market Operator says fossil fuel plant outages could threaten power supply this summer. The addition of almost 5 gigawatts of renewable capacity will improve the resilience of Australia’s main electricity grid this summer, Aemo says.

Australia

Natalie Baini, the former Liberal who will run as an independent in the Sydney seat of Reid, has blasted the culture of her former party, claiming her political career was thwarted after she raised concerns about the alleged conduct of a married Coalition minister she had been in a relationship with.

The member for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, is facing questions about claims he made in his local newspaper that he had been successful in getting the Coalition to “upgrade” its 2030 emissions reduction target. Sharma rebuffed criticism from independent candidate Allegra Spender’s campaign that he had been ineffective in changing the Coalition’s climate policy.

Underfunding of environmental initiatives by the Victorian government is pushing plants and animals across the state towards extinction, a state parliamentary inquiry has found. The Greens-led inquiry, examining the decline of habitats and wildlife , tabled its final report, calling for changes to how the state funds and enforces protection of endangered wildlife and a massive increase to the national parks budget.

The world

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel says vaccination could become mandatory in Germany. Photograph: Action Press/Rex/Shutterstock

Vaccination could become mandatory in Germany from February, Angela Merkel has said, as she announced what her successor as chancellor, Olaf Scholz, described as “a lockdown of the unvaccinated”.

The UK drugs watchdog has approved a new Covid treatment after trials found it cut the likelihood of hospital admission and death by 79% in high-risk adults.

Ecuador’s highest court has ruled that plans to mine for copper and gold in a protected cloud forest are unconstitutional and violate the rights of nature. In a landmark ruling, the constitutional court decided that mining permits issued in Los Cedros, a protected area in the north-west of the country, would harm biodiversity.

Facebook’s owner has taken down a Chinese misinformation network that attempted to spread claims about coronavirus using a fake Swiss biologist.

Canadian lawmakers have passed a motion banning conversion therapy practices, in a rare show of unanimity.

EU authorities can cut funds to member states that are corrupt and curb independent courts, a senior adviser to the bloc’s top court has said. In a setback for the governments of Poland and Hungary, a European court of justice lawyer said a law linking EU funds to respect for the rule of law was legally sound.

Recommended reads

In his latest novel, the award-winning crime novelist Garry Disher interrogates the cultural landscapes of power and misogyny within the coastal town of Swanage, a fictional locale nestled among the familiar back beaches of Dromana in Victoria. Contemporary attitudes towards male violence are pitted against the stereotypes of a small-town old boys’ club in this thought-provoking story that is complex and subtly woke. “There is a subtle sadness at the heart of The Way it Is Now – a suggestion that our stubborn inability to change is doing untold damage,” writes Bec Kavanagh. “Disher is, as always, a deft and compelling crime novelist, and he has crafted a provocative whodunnit that is grounded firmly in the current moment.”

After 2020’s first lockdown, people bounced back. There was a buzz to getting back out again and reconnecting with people, a release of pent-up energy, and the commitment to beat the virus back and get to Covid zero. “Now … people are hollow-eyed, wrecked, a shell,” writes Brigid Delaney. “The fatigue is animal. Omicron, whatever – just run me over with a tractor.” We need a special type of rest, Delaney says.

Public confusion and distrust over vaccination in Papua New Guinea have been fuelled by what experts say are crippling failures . “The fear of this vaccine is real,” says Dr Fiona Hukula, a Port Moresby-based anthropologist with the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat. “From the very beginning of the pandemic … we didn’t have a clear communications strategy.”

Listen

In today’s episode of Full Story, Gabrielle Jackson talks to Lenore Taylor and Mike Ticher about the toxic culture in Parliament House and the response to Kate Jenkins’ landmark report.

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.

Sport

Once fast enough to earn a place in the Stawell Gift hall of fame, Alan Lynch, the former VFL footballer, now lives with Parkinson’s disease. Sport editor Mike Hytner introduces Alan Lynch’s honest and candid account of concussion from sport.

Nearly half of the A-League Women’s season will be played in conjunction with the men’s competition as a way of incentivising sport fans to watch the women’s games. Not everyone agrees this is a good idea.

Media roundup

Adoption in Australia has dropped to its lowest level in three decades, Sydney Morning Herald reports. Shortages of urea, an anti-pollution additive for diesel, could force half of all trucks to be removed from the road by early next year, the Australian reports.

Coming up

An inquiry into health services in regional and remote NSW will be held.

And if you’ve read this far …

In Australia’s wet weather ’tis the season for spiders, mozzies, mice and mould.

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