In just nine weeks, Labor has:
- Removed any reference to these promises in their updated 2022 NDC (the formal mechanism to adopt emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement),
- Discarded any requirement for the minister to report to Parliament on progress towards delivering on those promises,
- Forgotten to ask the Climate Change Authority to consider or advise on these metrics,
- Abandoned their commitment to cut power prices in Question Time last week, and
- Shown no willingness to make the tough decisions needed to fix the east coast energy crisis.
The new Labor government has also done a deal with the Greens to exclude emissions-intensive industries and infrastructure from receiving Commonwealth support (whether financial, approvals or prioritisation).
Last week, Labor quietly introduced the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 without fanfare. The Bill makes the achievement of Australia’s 2030 targets and reducing global emissions an objective or function of 14 different agencies and statutory schemes. The Bill risks:
- Stopping Export Finance Australia from supporting Australian resources exporters to access overseas markets, or from financing much-needed infrastructure improvements in the Pacific, because these activities could increase Australian and global emissions. This is Labor adopting a Greens policy from 2019.
- Forcing Infrastructure Australia to prioritise less emissions-intensive public transport projects in urban areas over major road projects in regional areas, or new ports and airports.
- Preventing the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund from supporting an expansion of our traditional export industries, particularly energy and agriculture, or the development of new critical minerals processing industry, because this would increase Australian and possibly global emissions, too.
The Prime Minister’s strong language in defence of coal and gas during the election campaign is utterly meaningless if one of his first acts in government is a deal with the Greens to handicap our traditional industries and the regional communities that rely on the jobs they create.
Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Ted O’Brien said that in the words of Chris Bowen, “we do not need it [this legislation]” and “we’ve also been clear that the legislation is not required”.
“This is a political stunt. Australia already has a formal 43 per cent target, regardless of how the Parliament deals with this legislation,” Ted O’Brien said.
“Experience overseas shows that legislating targets hands control over major infrastructure projects to green activists.
“Not only are there risks to infrastructure projects, the legislation will also make it harder for agencies like EFA and the NAIF to support Australia’s energy and national security objectives.
“It’s clear that in their rush to play politics, Labor hasn’t thought through the second- and third-order consequences of this legislation.
“The Coalition is open to sensible policies that support real and practical action to reduce emissions. But we cannot support legislation that puts our energy and national security at risk.”
In October 2021, the Coalition Government released a detailed plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, backed by comprehensive modelling. Labor’s Powering Australia policy doesn’t consider how net zero by 2050 will be achieved, outside of a carbon tax on 212 heavy industrial facilities.
Our plan included five-yearly reviews by the Productivity Commission, with a particular requirement to look at the impact of climate change policies on energy prices, job creation and investment in traditional energy- or emissions-intensive industries (i.e. resources, agriculture, manufacturing), agricultural land and regional communities. The review mechanism was also part of the Coalition’s updated 2021 NDC.
Labor has actively removed all safeguards from the NDC and there is no requirement for the climate change minister to report on these metrics to the Parliament.
The Coalition will now initiate a review of its climate and energy policies. Any new emissions reduction targets – or policies to achieve them – that the Coalition takes to the next election will reflect the latest economic developments, emissions projections and the role that new and emerging technologies could play in an Australian context.
A least-cost approach to reducing emissions means that all technologies need to be on the table. That includes carbon capture and advanced nuclear power technologies, both of which feature in the US, UK and EU’s plans to get to net zero emissions.
Contact: Mitch Bland 0401 257 064