The Labor Party is at war over climate change policy, with frontbencher Mark Butler moving to shut down speculation it will abandon ambitious emissions targets and reach a “political settlement” with the Liberal Party.
Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon is calling for the ALP’s target of a 45 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 to be slashed down to the Liberal’s own target of 28 per cent. Labor has previously claimed Australia cannot meet the Paris Agreement commitments on that trajectory.
Mr Fitzgibbon blindsided the party with the speech outside of his portfolio area, warning that Bill Shorten’s ambitious plans had left voters “scared and confused”.
“Labor needs to reach a sensible settlement on climate change. How many times are we going to let it kill us?” he said.
“Indeed, how many leaders do we want to lose to it? Australia is responsible for around 1.3 per cent of global emissions; nothing we can do alone can have a meaningful impact.”
But Labor’s climate change spokesman Mark Butler said today that such a “political settlement” to would fail to meet the Paris Agreement targets.
“Labor cannot support that target because it would lead to global warming of more than 3 degrees,” he told The New Daily.
“We remain committed to implementing the principles of the Paris agreement. The government’s target is fundamentally inconsistent.”
Critics have described Mr Fitzgibbon’s speech as “ill-conceived, “a capitulation.” and “unlikely to be supported by his own tribe.”
“I totally support the comments by Mark Butler, our shadow minister for climate change. Labor remains committed to implementing the principles of the Paris Agreement, which are to keep global warming well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts around 1.5 degrees,” Labor MP Ged Kearney said.
“Clearly, action on climate change is key for the Australian people, including my electorate. I’ll continue to support serious action on climate action, like I have always done.’
Mr Fitzgibbon’s colleagues largely reacted with deathly silence to the speech on Wednesday morning. But by afternoon there were signs of some support for a more pragmatic approach from Queensland MPs.
“I am all for bold action on climate change but we can’t ignore the election result and the weak economic conditions in regional Queensland that left us vulnerable to a massive scare campaign from the LNP and their cronies,” Senator Anthony Chisholm said.
The Liberal Party’s energy spokesman Angus Taylor welcomed Mr Fitzgibbon’s proposal.
“We would love Labor to support our policies,” Mr Taylor said.
“Labor went to the last election with a 45 per cent emissions reduction, which was going to slash jobs, slash wages and slash the economy. That was their policy and they are now clearly recognising the error of their ways.”