Federal Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen has criticised the Morrison government for even considering nuclear power as an option in the future energy mix, calling it a “fantasy and a furphy”.
Mr Bowen defended Labor’s position of announcing a net zero emissions target by 2050 without any detail of how this will be achieved, a pledge which drew criticism from the government.
Mr Bowen, the former shadow treasurer and now the opposition’s health spokesman, told reporters in Sydney that billions of dollars will be “unleashed” by renewable energy investment that will create jobs.
Asked by a journalist if he would be open to nuclear power, Mr Bowen said: “No”.
“The economics of nuclear power don’t stack up. You could start building a nuclear power station today and it wouldn’t be ready for decades,” Mr Bowen said.
“The idea that this is part of the mix to Australia’s response to global warming is a fantasy and a furphy.”
Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman, a supporter of a 2050 zero emissions target, criticised Labor Leader Anthony Albanese for not announcing any plan or strategy to get to the target.
“I think it’s important that in an area that has been contentious within the community that we are upfront with the community and explain how you would get to that type of target,” he told the ABC.
“Otherwise these targets become a bit meaningless.”
Opposition frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon,, who has been outspoken supporting mining communities in his seat of Hunter in NSW, is on board with the 2050 target.
“Our communities, rightly, expect each of Australia’s political parties to have a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing guarantees on jobs and also affordable and reliable energy security,” he said in an opinion piece in the Newcastle Herald.
“For me, achieving meaningful net reductions, without doing harm to our traditional industries and the jobs they create, is the most important challenge.”
He said the aspiration of carbon neutrality by 2050 offers a conservative and low-risk path to satisfying the commitment former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull made in 2015.
Business has also backed the aim of zero emission by 2050.
“We shouldn’t underestimate the challenge of net zero, which goes well beyond generating cleaner electricity,” Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said.
“Nor should we get too hung up on economic projections, which are about as reliable as trying in 1990 to estimate the cost and value of smartphones in 2020.”