Climate change has been the major talking point in the run up to the Australian federal election this weekend and for good reason. Australians have witnessed the devastating effects of climate change on their doorstep, including last year’s drought in Eastern Australia (the worst in 100 years), the mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, and the extinction of native Australian wildlife as a direct result of climate change as reported earlier this year.
Now two thirds of Australian adults believe that climate change is the most significant threat to the country’s national interests and there is major appetite for renewable energy deployment across the nation. So, with an informed and expectant public, what are the main political parties’ policies on climate change?
The Coalition don’t have a ‘renewable energy’ policy beyond 2020. However, their ‘emissions reduction’ policy includes a $3.5 billion climate solutions package. Of this, $1.4 billion will invested in the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project in NSW, which features ‘pumped hydro’ (energy storage that can be utilised when required). The Coalition believe that these measures and Australia’s current renewable deployment will ensure that the country will meet its emissions reduction target of 26% by 2030.
Beyond this, the Coalition’s policy focuses much of its attention on reducing energy prices and creating reliable power sources. Their manifesto dismisses Labor’s renewable energy targets as damaging to the economy and the local job market and they highlight the loss of over 336,000 jobs as a direct result of Labor’s plans.
Labor has promised significant action on climate change. They advise that ignoring climate change is not an option. Their plan commits to powering half of Australia’s electricity with renewable energy by 2030 and a $10 billion investment into fossil fuel alternatives. Labor promises rebates for solar batteries for 100,000 homes, with a target of 1 million batteries by 2025. In addition, 50% of Australian cars sold will be powered by electric sources by 2025, and half of all passenger vehicles will be electric by 2030. These plans would in turn create 70,000 new jobs and cleaner, cheaper power.
The Greens offer the most serious action on climate change. In a total transition away from fossil fuels, their manifesto calls for the national electricity grid to be powered by 100% renewable energy come 2030. In doing so, they aim to create a huge jobs boom in the renewable energy export industry and to turn Australia into a ‘renewable energy superpower
The results of this weekend’s election will have a huge impact on the future climate policy of the country. Climate change has energised the Australian people who are motivated to face the challenge head on. Australians need to make sure they vote and allow whichever party they choose know how much renewable energy now matters to the nation’s interests.
Australian’s have the power to be either renewable energy leaders or to remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. Either way, the eyes of the renewable energy world will be firmly fixed on the results come the weekend.