Although Labor’s much-anticipated emissions reduction plan is more ambitious than that proposed by the federal government, climate advocates warn it still falls short.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Friday promised lower power bills and a green jobs boom while announcing the climate plan the Opposition will take to next year’s election.
Mr Albanese said Labor’s plan would reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The pledge is more ambitious than the Morrison government’s 26 to 28 per cent 2030 target, but the Glasgow climate pact last month called on nations like Australia to achieve a larger 45 per cent fall by 2030 (based on 2010 emissions levels).
Mr Albanese defended the plan, saying it was underpinned by policy and not unspecified technology change – a feature of Morrison’s plan.
Labor’s plan would create 604,000 jobs and deliver a $275 reduction in average yearly power bills, according to independent modelling.
It would carry a $683 million cost to taxpayers, but Mr Albanese said $76 billion worth of investment would flow from the policy package by 2030.
“We think we have got the balance right,” Mr Albanese told reporters.
“We wanted to make sure we have a policy that doesn’t leave people behind, that supports industry, that supports jobs.”
Friday’s announcement included several older Labor policies and other new measures, the sum of which sit behind its 43 per cent 2030 target.
Reduced emissions caps
One key mechanism is a plan to tighten an existing safeguard that forces more than 140 of Australia’s largest carbon emitters to reduce emissions over time. Labor climate spokesperson Chris Bowen said an Albanese government would reduce emissions caps under this program.
This reform has previously been backed by leading business groups.
“Emissions intensive trade-exposed facilities will face carbon constraints no more onerous than our international competitors,” Mr Bowen said.
Labor also promised energy grid upgrades, tax relief for electric vehicles and tens of millions of dollars in funding for solar banks and batteries.
Climate advocates welcomed the policy package on Friday, but said it doesn’t go far enough in ensuring Australia does its part to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees celsius or even 2 degrees.
“Our competitors are going a lot harder and faster than we are,” Nicki Hutley, economics spokesperson for the Climate Council, told TND.
“Fifty per cent would have been better. The Climate Council would have liked to see 75 per cent based on Australia’s capacity to do more.
“At least this is the first step in the right direction, but it’s just one step on a very long journey.”
Could be more ambitious
Carbon Market Institute CEO John Connor welcomed Labor’s target, saying it would bring Australia closer to the US (50 to 52 per cent by 2030), Canada (40 to 42 per cent) and South Korea (40 per cent).
“But these collective targets all still require strengthening to achieve agreed climate goals,” he said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
Labor has promised to legislate its 2030 and 2050 net zero target, unlike the Coalition, which made its own net zero by 2050 pledge in October.
Before the policy was released on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed – without providing any evidence – that Labor’s climate plan will cost Australia jobs and increase power prices.
Greens leader Adam Bandt, who has called for a 75 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, also weighed in on the plan before it was public.
“Labor’s target is not consistent with the science of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees,” Mr Bandt said in a statement on Friday.
“Labor now joins the Liberals with targets that have given up on the science, given up on Glasgow and given up on the climate.”
Labor said it will not bring forward the closure of coal power stations.