The ALP’s blueprint to address emissions reductions

ALP’s Climate Change Action Plan

ALP’s Climate Change Action Plan

The federal election – the Climate election – has been called. Saturday May 18 is the date citizens of Australia go to the polls to elect the party they believe is best placed to lead Australia’s future. We know that more Australians than ever before are voicing concern over climate change and frustration over Coalition inaction, but is it enough to ring in change?

A few quick facts: emissions rose by 0.9 per cent in the year to September 2018 due mainly to a 19.7 per cent increase in LNG exports. Emissions also rose in stationary energy, fugitives (gas burning), industrial processes and waste sectors. Transport emissions rose 2 per cent to September. 

Australia has also experienced hotter and drier summers and unseasonal bush fires, drought and mass livestock losses; the impact of climate change is widespread and continues to escalate. 

Responding to the need to curb emissions and tackle climate change, the ALP recently released its Climate Change policy, the cornerstone of which is to trim Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. 

The ALP also pledges to source 50 per cent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2050. 

Federal Labor Leader Bill Shorten also announced a target of 50 per cent of new sales of electric vehicles by 2030 and a vision for an EV government fleet by 2025. 

To further support the EV transition, the ALP also proposed spending $200 million on an EV charging network across the country, tax deductions for businesses to buy EVs, and announced plans to introduce new Vehicle Emissions Standards.

In response to the announcement on electric vehicles, the prime minister mounted a scare campaign, declaring the ALP wanted to “end the weekends of SUV fun” and went on to rubbish Labor’s claim that EVs can be charged in eight to 10 minutes. However that soon backfired, with information circulating about fast chargers’ ability to provide enough power within three minutes to travel 100 kilometres, or to fully charge EVs in just 15 minutes.

The ALP has also declared that should it be elected on May 18, the party will commit to a long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050. 

The ALP will also scratch Kyoto carryover credits and lower annual greenhouse gas pollution cap from 100,000 to 25,000 tonnes, forcing 250 of Australia’s largest polluters to reduce emissions. 

Labor will also rebuild and strengthen the Climate Change Authority.  

Bill Shorten said “climate change is real, and it’s doing real damage to our environment and our economy.

“Australians know the truth of this. Farmers understand that if we don’t act on climate change, there will be more frequent and more protracted droughts, floods, dust storms and hailstorms.

“The Reserve Bank has warned climate change is a significant risk to our economy and communities on the Reef coast know that if we don’t act on climate change, it will be too late to save our greatest natural wonder.”

He says all Australians are aware that if we don’t act on climate change, we’re passing on a tougher problem and a worse environment to our children and grandchildren.

“For the sake of our economy, for the sake of our environment and for the sake of the country we want to hand on to the next generation, Labor has a clear plan to take real action on climate change.”

John Grimes of the Smart Energy Council welcomes Labor’s climate change policy, saying “Federal Labor’s commitment to at least 50 per cent renewables by 2030 is an important stepping-stone in decarbonising the Australian economy.

"We are facing a climate emergency and we must do whatever we can to move to 100 per cent renewable energy as soon as possible.

He commends ALP electric vehicle policy saying it is achievable because it removes barriers to the already rapidly growing electric vehicle market where Australia is a laggard. 

“We also welcome Labor’s target of a million solar batteries by 2030 backed by a $2000 subsidy for 100,000 families, and the party’s commitment to double funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“The ALP Climate Change package is exactly what Australia needs to cut pollution and create Australian jobs,” John Grimes said.

“By contrast, the Morrison Government has no national climate change or energy policy. Carbon pollution and power bills are soaring.

“Australia’s environment desperately needs a change of government.”

The Climate Council agrees, saying “After years of climate policy stagnation and a lack of leadership at the federal level, this announcement dramatically distinguishes the ALP from the Coalition.

“However, if elected, the ALP would need to rapidly ratchet up these policies to ensure the scale and speed of transition that is required.

“Climate change will be a defining feature of the federal election and a vote-changing issue. Together, we must keep pushing for Australia to implement a credible climate policy.”

For those who did not see it, earlier this week Smart Energy Council patron John Hewson penned a piece for Fairfax about the government getting itself into a “real pickle on climate”, with issues such as climate and Adani likely to dominate the next election.

“In attempting to attack Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on his support for a more ambitious emissions reduction target and electric vehicles it has already skewered itself,” he wrote, citing the feasibility study in support of a second electricity interconnect to Tasmania that reveal the project is only viable if the government accelerates the closure of coal-fired power stations.

That development would effectively move Australia towards an emissions reduction target of 45 to 50 per cent by 2030, and further, the Coalition’s stated support for the transition to electric vehicles would in fact require 25 to 50 per cent of vehicles to be electric by 2030, John Hewson says.

“Voters want honesty, authenticity, transparency, and policy outcomes” he wrote, “Political masters now seem to have lost their moral compass.”

According to the Age ipsos poll conducted soon after Labor released its climate policy, just half Coalition voters believe it is the best party to handle climate change. One third said they didn't know and 16 per cent said Labor was preferable.

The phone poll of 1200 voters found 72 per cent of Labor voters said their party had the best climate policy.