Australia faces some serious environmental problems, many having been highlighted in the current election campaign. But the environmental problem receiving the most attention is climate change.
This is not surprising as it has become increasingly obvious to a growing number in the community that climate change is fuelling extreme weather events such as prolonged drought and heatwaves as well as reef bleaching, bushfires and many other dramatic changes to natural systems.
More electors are demanding effective action to curb the emissions causing these changes. Of particular significance are the growing calls for action from the young – those who will be forced to deal with catastrophic impacts if effective action is not taken urgently.
So what is on offer from the major parties in the election campaign?
The Coalition parties are promising more of the same – a continuation of the direct action policy in which taxpayers pay polluters to curb their emissions. There are no plans to lift energy from renewable sources above 23% and there is clear support for the continued burning of coal and building of coal power stations instead of any plan to phase out this energy source.
The division on climate policy within the Coalition has made it impossible for it to develop and implement an effective policy. This was clearly shown with the failure of the NEG (National Energy Guarantee) last year and the coup against Prime Minister Turnbull. Despite this division and the continuing rise in carbon emissions, the current Prime Minister and others in the Coalition have unrealistically claimed that the nation will meet its Paris commitments “in a canter”.
The Coalition is failing future generations as well as ignoring the long term national interest.
The Labor Party wants much greater cuts to emissions – 45% by 2030 - and the move to 50% renewable energy by 2030. While this is a distinct improvement on the Coalition’s position, there are significant weaknesses in its policy including its support for fracking gas in the NT’s Beetaloo Basin.
A climate emergency has recently been declared in the UK. What chance is there of that happening in Australia?
- Leonie Blain
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on May 6, 2019