Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan is a serious policy response to the existential threat of global warming that recognises pollution must be cut across all industry sectors.

Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan is a serious policy response to the existential threat of global warming that recognises pollution must be cut across all industry sectors, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says.

ACF Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said: “It is highly encouraging to see Labor put forward credible policies to cut emissions across transport, manufacturing, energy and other parts of our economy, which stands in contrast to years of inaction by the Coalition government that has resulted in rising climate pollution.

“While Labor’s policies are a significant step forward and far more credible than the Coalition’s lacklustre efforts, the level of ambition of both major parties is still short of what scientific bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say is necessary to halt climate damage. The major parties also continue to have damaging blind spots on the critical need to transition away from polluting coal and stop Adani.”

In addition to previously announced pledges on clean energy, green hydrogen, household batteries and community transition, key highlights of the Labor climate package include:

  • Resourcing and enabling independent institutions like the Climate Change Authority that are necessary to meet Labor’s commitment to zero net pollution by 2050.
  • Establishing long-delayed vehicle emissions standards and national targets and strategies to support electric cars to get on top of Australia’s soaring transport pollution.
  • Transforming and tightening the safeguard mechanism to ensure heavy industry has a harder cap and flexible incentives to stop its rising pollution.
  • Investing more in cutting power-use and harmonising state-based energy efficiency schemes.
  • Ruling out the use of dodgy Kyoto carryover credits towards meeting Australia’s emissions targets, and a pledge to be a more responsible actor on international climate change issues.

“The cost of inaction, or weak action, on climate change is severe for our communities, especially vulnerable Australians. Climate damage will mean longer and more frequent heatwaves, worse droughts, more deadly bushfires and big shocks to Australian industries and workers,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

“In the lead up to the federal election, it is clear Australians are demanding credible action on climate change and political parties who do not measure up risk the wrath of voters at the ballot box. All parties should be competing to win the support of Australians with a race to the top on climate action.

“While Labor has policies to accelerate clean energy deployment, they fall glaringly short on the need to rapidly replace Australia’s polluting coal fired power plants and halt new coal mines like the Adani project.

“There is still a cognitive dissonance in our national debate about the climate damage the coal we dig up and send overseas is causing. No party can claim to be truly serious on climate change until it stops Adani and develops strategy to accelerate the transition away from coal.

“However, Labor’s climate change plan does address many of the important challenges Australia has in transforming to a zero-pollution economy.

“Australian transport pollution has risen 57 per cent since 1990 and we have one of the dirtiest car fleets in the world. If properly implemented, Labor’s proposals for fuel efficiency standards and boosting electric vehicle deployment would be a significant step towards turning this around.

“Industry emissions have risen 39 per cent since 1990 and Australia is the worst performer on industrial efficiency among the top 25 energy consuming countries of the world. Setting a more credible cap on pollution by strengthening and transforming the safeguard mechanism is recognition of how much ground we need to make up.

“Labor’s plan also reflects a more mature approach to climate policy by bolstering independent institutions like the Climate Change Authority to set a path to achieve Labor’s promise of net zero emissions by 2050. It will also make Australia a more constructive global player on climate change and a better climate ally to our Pacific neighbours.

“Unfortunately, sections of Labor’s policy platform contain significant wriggle room that big polluters may seek to exploit. If it wins government Labor must quickly harden the detail around its policies and resist attempts of industry lobby groups like the Minerals Council of Australia, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Automobile Association to weaken climate action.”

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@mail.acf.org.au