Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Labor Party needs a credible plan for climate change action

Shorten-unknownLabor must back up renewables target with a credible plan   Environment editor, The Age Amid the brutal political fight over the carbon tax it has been occasionally forgotten that Australians really like renewable energy.

Only on Tuesday a poll by Essential Media found 50 per cent of people thought the government should prioritise support for renewables over the coal industry. Just 6 per cent thought the opposite.

It appears Labor has been taking note. Hence the splashy commitment to have half of Australia’s large-scale power production coming from renewables by 2030.

It is an attempt to quell one of the Coalition’s strongest political attacks – that Labor will bring back a “carbon tax” in power. And it targets the Prime Minister’s apparent distaste for clean power (well wind farms at least) and public backing of coal.

Also on Labor’s side is science, which is demanding a rapid transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner technologies if the planet is to have any chance of keeping global warming to relatively safe levels.

We have a long way to go to meet this goal. Just 13.5 per cent of our power came from renewables last year, and our current target will see a 23.5 per cent share by 2020 if it is met.

The ALP remains pledged to introducing an emissions trading scheme, a move the Coalition will attempt to tar with the carbon tax brush. But the hint is that Labor will use its renewable energy splash to adopt a softly softly approach on carbon pricing, at least until 2020. It could amend the Coalition’s Direct Action scheme to this end.

In the meantime it would have to send other signals to energy investors. The likely policy lever is to extend the existing renewable energy target scheme, which financially supports new projects.

Labor could also set limits on excess emissions coming from coal power plants, or simply ban old power stations, as countries like the United States and Canada are doing. And it could also beef-up efforts to cut energy use.

All these measures have costs and benefits. Meanwhile, many economists say the most economically efficient way to make the long-term transition to a cleaner energy mix is with a strong carbon price.

As ever, the devil will be in the detail.

The target is a push in the right direction. But Labor will have to back it up with a credible climate plan or risk it being seen as a vote grab.

July 22, 2015 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: