Yesterday my heart sank when I heard that shadow resources minister Joel Fitzgibbon was going to make a speech at the AFR National Energy Summit proposing that Labor end the climate wars by adopting the Coalition’s target of 28 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. Frankly, I knew Mark Butler would be spewing, but Fitzgibbon is a senior cabinet minister, so which way would Anthony Albanese choose?
By the end of the day the matter was settled. I’ll link to a couple of articles later, but the most important media piece came in Patricia Karvelas’s interview with Pat Conroy, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Minister Assisting for Climate Change, on ABC RN Drive. Labor will honour our Paris commitment, that means a meaningful contribution rather than the pathetic formal commitment by the Abbott government made. labor will take a backward step on it’s 2019 election commitments.
Conroy was quite specific. During a period when policy was under review Fitzgibbon could have is view, but Labor will not be doing what he suggests.
Conroy thinks Labor’s climate policy won votes during the election apart from Central Qld and the Hunter. I’m not so sure that holds as a generalisation, but Conroy says the 28% target is out of whack with what the Australian population wants, and with Labor values.
He also pointed out that under Paris our formal commitment in 2015by the LNP government represented a level of effort that would lead to a 3°C plus global warming. Australia must commit at least to zero emissions by 2050 to conform with Paris. If Labor attained government in 2020 any 2030 target would be made more difficult by the LNP dismal performance where emissions continue to rise, so the task from 2022 to 2030 becomes harder.
The real clincher came at 13:10 on the counter, where Karvelas said she had just seen a Tweet from Albo, where he said Labor would follow the science, that climate change action was good for the economy, and that he was proud of Labor’s support for climate change.
Labor’s current 2030 target is 45% reduction by 2030, which was based on the Climate Change Authority’s advice in 2014 in the preparation for the Paris summit in December 2015. Labor’s policy has been to revamp the Climate Change Authority in government. There is no telling what the science will indicate then, or rather the revamped CCA’s reading of the science. So quantitative targets expressed now are less important than the process Labor commits to.
We should also remember that while the unions do not speak with one voice the ACTU favours strong action.
There is little doubt in my view that Labor will need to come up with an economy-wide Climate Transition Plan which will also address fossil fuel mining and Just Transition issues. That, finally, can only be done with the resources of government, but it would be appropriate to make expressions of intent in opposition.
Mark Butler condemns Labor frontbencher’s plan to adopt Coalition climate policy
Here to remind us is the Australia’s record and official prospects, sourced from the government itself:
At Kyoto in 1997 Senator Robert Hill won a right to increase emissions by 8% from 1990 to 2012. It happened in the last hours of the meeting, well passed midnight, when delegates wanted to wrap things up so that they could catch their scheduled flights.
It was a con, and the COALition has been conning on climate ever since. Under Paris there was flexibility in choosing national targets. Our choice of 2005 as the starting point rather than 2000 was done to make the task easier.
However, the COALition now has no serious plan. We will meet their 26% target in electricity, but that represents only 35% or so of emissions. It is the low hanging fruit. We really need to go to zero by 2030 to meet 26% economy-wide. Instead, as I predicted, they are talking per capita reductions, which was never mentioned in the promises we made.
And counting carry-over Kyoto credits, achieved on the back of vegetation management laws in Queensland. No ther country is using carry-over credits, but there is no rule against it.
The Coalition’s form is to pretend to take action while it pursues business as usual, or even engages in intervention designed to prolong our use of coal.