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Labor climate pitch a ‘target with teeth’

Labor climate policy
Chris Bowen says Labor's climate change target is not up for negotiation and can be achieved. Photo: AAP
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Labor has pledged not one job would be lost under its long-awaited climate policy.

In an address to the National Press Club, the opposition’s climate change spokesman Chris Bowen described the party’s pledge for a 43 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 as “targets with teeth”.

“It’s an ambitious policy. It’s going to take a lot of work from all of us — government, industry, working together — to achieve it. But it shall be achieved,” Mr Bowen said.

“There’s the target. We’re not negotiating about it, we’re not changing it and amending it.”

While acknowledging climate policy had led to widespread division across both sides of politics for more than a decade, Mr Bowen said Labor’s pledge was the most comprehensive proposal put forward by an opposition.

At the 2019 election, Labor put forward an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent by 2030, a move later labelled by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese as a “mistake”.

While the modelling showed more than 600,000 jobs would be created by the end of the decade, Mr Bowen pledged “not one” job would be lost as a result of Labor’s policy.

“Forty-three per cent is achievable … it also happens to be the minimum trajectory to (net-zero by) 2050 that experts agree,” Mr Bowen said.

“You’re not really committed to 2050 unless you’re around 43 per cent in the medium term, because it is just impossible to back load the drive to net-zero.”

The government has pledged it would reach net-zero by 2050, but have a 2030 target of 26 to 28 per cent.

Mr Bowen accused the government of pandering to identity politics underlying divisions on climate change, hitting out at years of inaction.

As part of the plan, 82 per cent of Australia’s energy mix would be renewable by 2030.

“We could have by now been well on the way to becoming a renewable energy superpower,” he said.

“Of course, we still can be. But we’ve left our run so very late.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled Labor’s target as an “opening bid”, saying it would be inevitable the measure would be increased.

“For Labor to legislate, if they were to form government, they would have to do that with the support of the Greens,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

“Forty-three per cent is just the opening bid from Labor. You know what the Greens’ target is: it is 75 per cent.”

The policy has been also been attacked by former Australian Council of Trade Unions president and federal MP Jennie George, who said parts of Labor’s climate pledge were “unbelievable”.

Ms George took aim at Labor’s promise of 604,000 jobs being created by the end of the decade, with only 10 per cent of that figure being from direct jobs.

“While much was made of the supposed jobs to be created, no mention was made of job losses under Labor’s plan,” she wrote in a letter to The Australian newspaper.

– AAP