Ahead of elections, Australia’s major parties reveal climate policies

Climate policy has emerged as a prominent campaign topic in Australia’s general election on Saturday, with objectives for decreasing carbon emissions by 2030.

The conservative government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the opposition Labor Party have downplayed climate problems in favor of cost-of-living issues. As a result, independent candidates have launched a campaign calling for stricter climate action.

The main parties in a major coal and gas-producing country that has been racked by drought, bushfires, and floods since the last election three years ago are committed to net zero emissions by 2050, but are divided on what has to be done this decade.

The following are the important climate and energy policies where the two parties disagree.

CO2 TARGETS

National-Liberal coalition

* Aiming for a 26% to 28% decrease in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, while claiming that a 35% reduction can be reached sooner.

Labor

* By 2030, the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 43% from 2005 levels, in line with important trade partners South Korea and Japan.

 

“SAFEGUARD MECHANISM” EMISSIONS

National-Liberal coalition

* Companies that produce more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) per year must adhere to government-approved emission limits. They must acquire and surrender Australian carbon credit units to offset excess emissions, or they can request for a new baseline or a multi-year monitoring period.

Labor

* Extend the “safeguard mechanism” to include enterprises emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of CO2-e per year, and gradually reduce companies’ permissible emissions baselines. Support exporters in difficult-to-abate industries.

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY TRANSMISSION

National-Liberal coalition

* Create a Grid Reliability Fund of A$1 billion ($700 million) to encourage transmission projects that will allow new solar and wind farms to connect to the grid. Investing A$1.4 billion to support the development of the hydrogen sector.

Labor

* Vows Industry will receive $20 billion in low-cost funding to expand transmission infrastructure for new renewable-energy projects. Plans call for the installation of 400 community batteries, large batteries that could be used to store excess energy from rooftop solar panels, as well as the allocation of up to A$3 billion from a national reconstruction fund to new energy industries and A$100 million to train workers for new energy jobs.

 

ELECTRIC AUTOMOBILES (EVs)

National-Liberal coalition

* Pledges A$178 million to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen refueling stations and electric car charging stations, as well as to help government and commercial fleets acquire electric vehicles. By 2030, battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are expected to account for 30% of new automobile and light truck sales.

Labor

* Promises an electric car discount starting July 1, which will exclude EVs priced below A$78,000 from a 5% import tax and a 47% fringe benefits tax. Proposes collaborating with business, labor organizations, states, and consumers to develop a national electric vehicle plan.

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