Labor climate policy: Battlelines set for climate fight after opposition announces 43 per cent 2030 target

Labor leader Anthony Albanese and climate and energy spokesman Chris Bowen unveiled the party's
Labor leader Anthony Albanese and climate and energy spokesman Chris Bowen unveiled the party's "Powering Australia" plan. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The battlelines have been set for a federal election fight over climate policy after Labor unveiled a $24 billion plan to create jobs and cut household power bills while slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese on Friday released his "Powering Australia" plan, which sets a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent on 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

The plan - which Mr Albanese described as "modest" - also proposes changes to the mechanism aimed at limiting pollution from large sites, a policy shift the Morrison government has repeatedly tried to frame as a backdoor carbon tax.

The new target is short of what former leader Bill Shorten took to the failed 2019 election, but exceeds both the Coalition's official aim and the stretch emissions projection it announced at the UN climate summit in Glasgow.

Mr Albanese's political opponents were quick to savage the target, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison claiming it wasn't "safe for jobs" while Greens leader Adam Bandt said Labor had "given up on climate" by not setting higher ambitions.

But environment and business groups have broadly welcomed the plan as a step in the right direction.

Following months of speculation, Mr Albanese and climate and energy spokesman Chris Bowen unveiled the new 2030 target, and the modelling which underpinned it, after shadow cabinet greenlit the policy at a meeting in Canberra on Friday.

"It's time for a federal government that understands that the world's climate emergency is Australia's jobs opportunity," Mr Bowen told reporters in Parliament House.

An Albanese Labor government would attempt to restore Australia's international reputation on climate action, including by bidding to host a future COP summit.

It plans to legislate its new 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050 targets.

The plan brings together a suite of existing policies, including for reducing the upfront cost of electric cars and building community batteries.

A $20 billion plan to modernise the electricity grid and $3 billion for investment in emerging technologies account for the overwhelming majority of its cost.

According to the modelling, which Labor paid research firm RepuTex Energy to prepare, unlocking access to an "abundant" supply of low-cost renewable electricity was forecast to cut the average annual household electricity bill by $275 by 2025, and $378 by 2030.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already attacked Labor's plan. Picture: Simone De Peak

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already attacked Labor's plan. Picture: Simone De Peak

The share of renewables in the national electricity market was set to rise to 82 per cent by the end of the decade.

Asked how he could be sure the policies would deliver lower power prices, Mr Albanese invoked French president Emmanuel Macron's response when asked if Mr Morrison had lied about the axed $90 billion submarine deal.

"I don't think, I know," Mr Albanese said, pointing to modelling which he claimed was the most comprehensive any opposition had ever undertaken.

The modelling forecasts Labor's policies will create about 64,000 direct and 540,000 indirect jobs this decade,

Arguably the most politically contentious element of Labor's plan is to adopt the Business Council of Australia's proposal to reform the mechanism designed to limit pollution from large sites to agreed levels.

A Labor government would ask the industry department and Clean Energy Regulator to develop new baselines emission levels for each of the 215 sites covered by the scheme, in consultation with industry.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor immediately rejected the business group's suggestion when it was put forward ahead of the Glasgow summit, likening changes to the so-called safeguards mechanism to a carbon tax.

Mr Morrison criticised Labor's new policy as he toured the Snowy Hydro project on Friday, claiming the opposition had "learnt nothing" since its 2019 election defeat.

"A 43 per cent target isn't safe for the Hunter," he told reporters.

"It's not safe for Gladstone. It's not safe for Bell Bay. It's not safe for our manufacturers. It's not safe for jobs."

Responding to those comments, Mr Albanese said Mr Morrison was a "guy who just attacks anything and is negative".

"He [Mr Morrison] said that net zero by 2050 would have a devastating impact on the economy before he then supported it," he said.

"This is a guy who said that electric vehicles would end the weekend before he denied saying that and pretended that he supported it."

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott welcomed Labor's "sensible and workable plan" to meet net zero emissions.

The Climate Council said Labor's plan would create jobs and prosperity, particularly in the regions, and get Australia "off the sidelines and back in the race to net zero".

"Labor's plan helps bridge the gap between the Morrison government's do nothing approach, and state government and business leaders who are forging ahead to create jobs and grow our nation's prosperity by slashing emissions this decade," the council's chief executive, Amanda McKenzie, said.

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This story Battlelines set for climate fight after Labor unveils long-awaited plan first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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