Two political party launches on the weekend gave an insight into two visions of how the Australian economy might evolve in coming years. To put it simply, one was based on clean energy, and clean air, and the other was not.
The Greens made their official campaign launch in an event all but ignored by the mainstream media, which is extraordinary given that the party has had a key role to play in a minority government over the last three years, and played a key role in some of the most important legislation – the carbon price and the creation of the Climate Change Authority, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and the Clean Energy Finance Corp.
On Saturday, Greens Leader Christine Milne added a “clean air act” to her policy suite, which includes emissions reductions targets of up to 40 per cent by 2020, and a 90 per cent renewables target by 2030. The clean air act will ensure things like coal wagons are properly covered to
No doubt, the mainstream parties will lump this latest policy initiative as an example of the Greens “extremism” and “marginal” policies – but clean air initiatives are mainstream policies in the world’s largest economies – the US, China, and Europe.
Tony Abbott, meanwhile, said he wants to be known as an “infrastructure prime minister who puts bulldozers on the ground and cranes into our skies”, and for building lots and lots of roads.
But that equipment will clearly not be used to build wind farms or solar farms, if it can possibly be avoided. Abbott’s received one of his biggest cheers when he repeated his vow to stop funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation on day one of his election. Rather than providing loans to building wind farms and solar farms, an Abbott government would provide loans to apprentices instead.
His choice of words on the CEFC was interesting. Abbott said the CEFC would be required to “cease making non-commercial loans with taxpayers’ money.” So far, almost all of the $500 million allocated by CEFC have been on a commercial basis – as it needs to be to satisfy its mandate.
In any case, a Coalition government can’t make the CEFC stop work just by shouting at it. It needs to rescind its mandate through an act of parliament, and the Coalition will not have a majority in the Senate until July 1 next year, if at all. Still, it’s not entirely clear that a decimated Labor would stand in the way of the Coalition policies, now that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said that Labor did not have a mandate to introduced the fixed carbon price in the first place.
Still, it’s ironic and somewhat disturbing that the Coalition should get a cheer to bring clean energy funding program to a halt.
The Coalition and their boosters like to dismiss the ambitious renewable energy and low carbon policies from The Greens as As our Graph of the Day shows, those economies with the cleanest profiles are likely to be the ones that generate the most GDP into the future, and will probably have the least amount of stranded assets.
Meanwhile, The Climate Institute has published an update of its pollute-o-meter – its rankings of the policy assessment of various parties and independents, including those that could hold the balance of power in the Senate.
The big development is that Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie has jumped ahead of the ALP after publishing a more comprehensive policy including: 60 per cent reduction target by 2030; support for ratification of Australia’s second Kyoto target; an ongoing minimum carbon price in line with current levels; a 30 per cent by 2020 renewable energy target, and; a requirement for future government projects to be planned to comply with credible climate risk scenarios and for government agencies to regularly report on their preparations for extreme climate events.
- Coalition moved from 1 to 1.5/5 stars after it announced funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, which helps the coordination and public sharing of adaptation research to help better manage climate impact risks, and the
Australian Katter Party is no longer sits at zero stars due to its support for extending the Renewable Energy Target. Senator Nick Xenophon and the Democratic Labor Party still languish between 0 and 0.5/5 stars.