This week, Morrison government finally releasedIts goal is to reduce Australia’s emissions to zero by 2050.
I’ve seen more detail in a fortune cookie.
These are justifiable comments. But Labor’s climate policy is also light on detail and the party won’t announce its full climate plan until after international climate talksThe Glasgow International Film Festival will conclude on November 12th.
What do we know about Labor’s policy so far? Will it be fair and environmentally-friendly?
No 2030 target
Global warming cannot exceed 1.5℃ this century if we hope to avoid catastrophic climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations body that assesses climate science. predicts global warming is on track for 2.7℃. We must act quickly.
Yet the ALP has no current plans to increase Australia’s 2030 emission reduction target. The party set a target to reduce emissions by 45% from 2005 levels. 2019 election. But scientists were not satisfied with this.
The Climate Council’s estimate for an appropriate climate target for Australia at the time was a 65% reduction. They argue today that we can, and should, aim for a 75% reductionBy 2030
Australia’s 2030 target is important because “net-zero” is vague in the abstract – it basically meansThe management of carbon sources and sinks to ensure a balanced environment. We need to understand the carbon cycle and which industries, technologies and groups of people are involved.
A green industrial strategy
The ALP has been signalling that it wants to put labour issues at the core of decarbonisation. Bowen often reminds us observes, “good energy policy is good employment policy”.
After the tortuous carbon price debate of the Rudd-Gillard years and Labor’s shock defeat at the 2019 election, Albanese has announced a renewed focus on policies to promote a green “industrial revolution”. “. joined labour economistsArguments that the pandemic exposes Australia’s economy to fragile global supply chains are made.
Labor has proposedA national reconstruction fund of A$15 billion to support economic diversification and advanced manufacturing, which includes renewables.
The energy transition means job losses in fossil fuel-based electricity generation, transport, and related mines. There are significant opportunities for new employment in new green tech industries, but they don’t magically appear in the places jobs are being lost.
So any shift to a “green” environment is a positive one. industry policyshould be carefully planned and targeted at specific locations.
Supporting electricity and transport transitions
Electricity market decarbonisation is already underway, thanks to the boom in renewable energy. Labor says it’s committed to underwriting the transition.
The ALP’s “rewiring the nation” policy commits A$20 billion to rebuild and modernise the grid, in line with a planThe Australian Energy Market Operator. Labor proposes Rewiring the Nation Corporation as a public institution that could reintroduce some government ownership in the sector. For households and distributed energyIt promises more support for community batteries when it is off the grid.
The ALP also committed to vocational training and a schemeApprentice electricians will be able to learn about renewable energy. We need more information on how they plan to manage the transition in the most affected areas.
It’s unclear if Labor still intends to create the Just Transition Authority announced under Bill Shorten’s leadership. These independent authorities are crucial for negotiating redundancy, retraining programmes, and economic diversity initiatives within hard-hit regions.
Transport systems are also poised for major changes. The ALP has been a tariff removal policyto make electric vehicles more affordable. It will work with the sector and the unions to improve manufacturing capacity. It could do more, such as imposing pollution standards on large manufacturers or mandating them to meet sales targets for electric vehicles.
What about food and fuel?
These sectors will need to be decarbonized in an economic, practical, and political sense.
Labor’s policies to reduce emissions in the agriculture sector have focused on land carbon offsetting. This approach encourages farmers and other agricultural workers to preserve their crops and use farming practices that increase carbon storage in soil and plants. This activity could be rewarded in the form of “credits” sold to polluting firms looking to compensate for (or “offset”) their ongoing emissions.
The Carbon Farming Initiative was established by the Gillard government as a voluntary land offset program that was linked to the short-lived compliance emission trading scheme. This continued under the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan as a combined competitive grant programmethe Safeguard Mechanism that sets a (and how to offset emissions)loose) limit on the most polluting firms in Australia.
Both Labor and Coalition’s approaches to land carbon are a light touch. Offsets should notrely heavily on them to reach net zero.
The clock is ticking on net-zero, farmers must not get a free pass
Labor has not addressed the future of our energy and export mineral industries. Australia’s coal and gas exports will be exposed as trading partnersSouth Korea, Japan, China and others have set net-zero emission goals.
Labor has stated it will notIt should seek an economy-wide carbon pricing instrument, just like it did during the Gillard administration. It will need other means to legislate or regulate emissions reductions. One possibility is to strengthen the existing “safeguard mechanism” without building a carbon market. In its current form, this mechanism has allowedThe big polluters tend increase their emissions but this could be changed.
Labor could go down this road, but it would also require a separate policy to address emissions from agriculture. Effective climate policy doesn’t have to be top-down economy-wide carbon price. A sector-by-sector industrial regulation and policy could be a more realistic approach to creating incentives for innovation.
A looming election
The federal election due early next year is shaping up as another “climate election”.
We urgently need a government who can see what jobs and lives will look like in a decade full of green industrial transformations. While Labor offers some new details about industrial processes, the emissions target and plans to support mining and regional communities are not clear.
We need the details in Albanese’s climate policy fortune cookie soon.