This week we are looking at Environment and Climate Change.
Welcome to the first edition of Policy Comparisons for the Australian 2022 Federal Election. Each week we will cover a different policy issue and where the parties and candidates stand on it. This week we are looking at Environment and Climate Change.
Liberal/National Coalition (currently in Government)
Emissions Reduction Target for 2030: 26-28% (created for the 2015 Paris Agreement).
Key people: Sussan Ley (Minister for Environment), Angus Taylor (Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction).
Climate crises and natural disasters such as the 2019-2020 Black Summer Bushfires and the 2022 Queensland Floods have been a big experience of the last term. While the Government established a Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Management in 2020, they have still drawn criticism for slow or inadequate disaster responses.
Leading up to the 2021 Glasgow Summit, the Government belatedly adopted Net Zero Emissions by 2050 as target, promising to reach it “The Australian Way” (whatever that means)
More Liberal/National environmental programs include:
- Supporting the Great Barrier Reef through “2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan”.
- Supporting Landcare and National Park Upgrades.
- Investing in Antarctic research with new ice-breaker RSV Nuyina and a station on Macquarie Island.
Labor (currently in Opposition)
Emissions Reduction Target for 2030: 43% by 2030. The Labor target has been slightly reduced from their 45% goal at the 2019 election, but is more ambitious than the Government.
Key people: Chris Bowen (Shadow Minister Climate Change and Energy), Terri Butler (Spokesperson for Environment and Water).
Labor has called for Australia to become a "renewable energy superpower”, with the creation of solar panels and wind turbines lowering emissions and providing jobs and trade opportunities.
Their climate plan also includes tightening the emissions caps on big polluters, using the so-called Safeguards Mechanism (where companies have to purchase carbon credits if they exceed a certain amount) While they are expanding an existing Government policy (simply lowering the caps), they have still copped criticism of a “sneaky carbon tax”.
More Labor policies include:
- Supporting Indigenous environmental management, including doubling the Indigenous Rangers Program.
- A subsidy for electric vehicles.
Emissions reduction target for 2030 with 75%.
Key people: Adam Bandt (Leader and Spokesperson for Climate Emergency), Sarah Hanson-Young (Spokesperson for Environment and Water).
The Greens have the highest emissions reduction target and have called for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels towards clean energy (with a moratorium on any new coal, oil or gas investment). This includes getting to 100% renewable energy generation in Australia. Unlike the major parties, the Greens do not accept any donations from big corporations.
More Greens environmental proposals include:
- Restore wildlife habits and have zero extinctions by 2030.
- Phasing out single use plastics.
- Promoting electric vehicles.
Emissions Reduction Targets: Various, generally 60-70%
One of the prominent features of this election has been the rise of “Teal Independents”. This follows the example of Zali Steggall who defeated Tony Abbott in Warringah in 2019 (and subsequently pushed for Net Zero legislation).
Stronger climate action is a common priority of these Independents. This will likely feature in any negotiations during a hung Parliament (if neither party gets enough seats outright to form Government).
Another independent Dai Le is a local Deputy Mayor running in the safe Labor seat of Fowler, prioritising a “greener, cleaner and safer city”. This follows the controversial Labor pick of Kristenna Keneally for the multicultural seat over local Tu Le.
For some of the more interesting minor parties on this issue, the Animal Justice Party unsurprisingly has a big emphasis on animal welfare and environmental conservation (and a rapid transition out of fossil fuels).
The Sustainable Australia Party emphasises biodiversity conservation and addressing overpopulation. They also want to measure progress with a more holistic measure like the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).
Katter’s Australian Party's (QLD) environmental policies have a unique focus on flying foxes and crocodiles, promising to value “human life above crocodiles".
There are a variety of minor parties calling for stronger environmental action, such as Australian Democrats, Australian Progressives, Reason Australia, Fusion, and Victorian Socialists.
Minor parties that are more sceptical of climate action include Liberal Democrats, One Nation, United Australia Party, Australian Citizens Party and the Great Australian Party.
Zali Stegall: https://www.zalisteggall.com.au/media_release_zali_steggall_mp_presents_climate_policy_solution_for_cop26
Dai Le?: https://daile.com.au/policies/
Sydney Morning Herald. April 10, 2022. "Eight Key election Issues - and where the major parties stand."
Liberal Party of Australia. “Protecting our Environment."
Australian Greens. "Protecting the Environment and Animals."
Australian Labor Party. 2021. “ALP National Platform."
Animal Justice Party.
Katter’s Australia Party.
Sustainable Australia Party.