The Australian Greens have unveiled a seven-point policy plan to wean the Australian economy and electricity network off coal, including an immediate ban on all new coal and gas projects, a tax on coal exports and a carbon price.
Following on the heels of federal Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan, the Greens’ 7-point plan – released on Thursday – aims to put an “urgent brake” on Australia’s fossil fuel emissions, while also investing in large-scale clean energy.
And it follows the ALP in calling for the reinstatement of a carbon price – although Greens Leader Richard di Natale has already ridiculed Labor’s proposed version, which he told the National Press Club on Wednesday equated to a carbon price of 3c a tonne.
The Coalition, meanwhile, is busy disparaging both, with environment minister Greg Hunt dusting off the party’s tried and tested mantra on ABC Radio National on Thursday, that “the overarching point here is that this is an electricity tax.”
The Greens plan, which would raise revenue by placing a levy on coal exports and “ending tax-free fuel” for mining companies, includes a $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund to help workers exit the coal industry.
It would also invest in the health of the Great Barrier Reef, which is already feeling the effects of global warming, with as much as 90 per cent of its coral affected by bleaching.
“Governments need to intervene here – not to prop up the dying coal industry, but to help coal workers get out and to protect the thousands of jobs that rely on the health of Australia’s stunning natural assets,” said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale, from Cairns’s Lizard Island.
“It’s been devastating to see the bleached coral today, and to hear about the ecological and economic impacts from reef scientists and local tourism operators. We have to turn this around.
“Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition are dumb and dumber when it comes to the subject of coal. They’ve sold out to their fossil fuel donors, handing out billions of dollars in subsidies and approvals for new coal and gas projects when this is an industry in decline.
“Coal is going down – that’s a market reality – but only the Greens have a plan to make sure workers and the Reef don’t go down with it.”
Greens Deputy Leader and Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said Australia could not afford to continue with business as usual.
“The climate and the Reef can’t take any more new coal or gas. Our Reef and our food producing land shouldn’t be subjected to any new coal or gas mines or expansions, when we have the opportunity to generate abundant clean energy that is reliable, creates more jobs and won’t worsen global warming.
“The plan the Greens are outlining today will enhance our agriculture and tourism industries, while generating new clean-energy jobs and making sure coal companies pay for the damage they’re doing,” Senator Waters said.