The federal Labor Party is one step closer to putting a number to its 2030 emissions reduction target, after announcing the launch of formal consultations on Wednesday.
The Opposition said it would hold nationwide meetings with industry, employers, unions and community groups based on the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation of a 45 per cent cut on 2005 levels, and couched in the party’s own proposal of a long-term target of net zero pollution by 2050.
Under the Abbott-Turnbull Liberal government, Australia is widely perceived to have one of the lowest national emissions reduction targets in the world, a commitment to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
It has also been broadly criticised for failing to provide a credible domestic policy framework with which to achieve this target.
A further concern, outlined in a recent Grattan Institute report, is the consistent and seemingly entrenched lack of bipartisan support for the central planks of a credible framework for greenhouse gas reduction – essential for such an important public policy issue.
Indeed, Opposition climate spokesman Mark Butler claims only Labor is serious about taking proper action on climate change, and is now ready to demonstrate how it would achieve the “strongest possible emissions reduction target.”
Butler said in a statement on Wednesday that in addition to “an appropriate, robust emissions reduction target”, Labor planned to ensure net zero emissions by 2050, 50 per cent renewables by 2030, the establishment of an internationally linked ETS, development of an Electricity Modernisation Plan, better building and vehicle efficiency standards, and a series of land sector measures.
And in a concession to perceived community concerns – concerns much pandered to by the Liberal government – that strong climate action will negatively affect the Australian economy, Butler said Labor would ensure the balance was right between cutting pollution and protecting economic growth.
“Australia has enormous opportunities to harness the billions of dollars in investment to boost jobs and grow our economy while cutting pollution,” he said in the media release.
“We have some of the world’s best renewable energy resources, the best scientific research and know-how, and a skilled workforce, but we need policies to capture this opportunity.
“Labor is doing what the Government should have done – engaging with the community on the Climate Change Authority’s recommendations which are based on science.
“The Abbott-Turnbull Direct Action policy that pays polluters is completely inadequate and puts Australia on a trajectory to fail its international commitments,” Butler said.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that despite the change of Prime Minister there has been no change to Liberal policy on climate change.
“The longer we delay action on climate change, the more severe the cost. If we do not act, Australia will continue to experience an increase in extreme weather events, more severe droughts and rising sea levels,” he said.