3 December 2021
While Labor’s Climate Policy is a step up from the current policies of the Coalition government it does not go fast enough nor far enough to put people with the least, impacted workers and communities at the front.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“The Labor climate policy announced today is welcome recognition that action on climate change can create jobs, cut energy bills, and drive down emissions. However, the policy misses the opportunity to give priority to people most at risk to the impacts of climate change and market responses.
“People with the least are impacted by climate change first, worse, and longest, but have fewer resources to cope, adapt and recover from climate impacts or benefit fully in the energy transition.
“Policies like community batteries and solar gardens are welcome if they are located in lower-socio economic areas. But they will only go someway to helping a portion of the millions of people on low-income suffering in costly and unhealthy inefficient housing.
“ACOSS, for example, has been calling for Governments to invest to improve energy efficiency and rooftop solar for 1.8 million low-income homes that would cut power bills, improve health outcomes, improve resilience to climate change, cut emissions, create more than 23,800 local jobs and add $4.9 billion to GDP.
“ACOSS has also called to put First Nations communities front and centre of a transition plan. We could empower and support First Nations communities to access and manage renewable energy farms, carbon offset projects, manage country and make housing efficient and self-sufficient.
“We are concerned Labor’s target of 43% reduction by 2030 is inconsistent with what science says is needed to protect people and planet, and is out of step with what community and business are calling for.
“Updated climate target modelling says Australia’s fair contribution to keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees requires a 75% reduction by 2030, 50% with a clear ratchet mechanism would be an absolute minimum.
“We welcome Labor’s Powering the Regions Fund, and urge Labor to ensure integrity by establishing an Energy Transition Authority that is mandated to consult with local communities on how the funds are invested.
“We also welcome the changes to the safeguards mechanism that will require emissions intensive industry reduce their emissions.
“We hope to see more from Labor between now and the election including policies to:
- invest to improve energy efficiency and rooftop solar for 1.8 million low-income homes
- put First Nations communities front and centre of a transition plan
- plan to phase out fossil fuels and support affected workers and communities
- build climate resilience including affordable and quality insurance
- end the billions of dollars of annual subsidies and government funding for fossil fuel production and use to fund fair, fast and inclusive action on climate change.
“The community sector is seeing first hand the devastation of climate change impacts on communities – affecting their mental and physical health, homes, jobs, general quality of life and sadly loss of life.
“Failure to act faster and more fairly will be unforgivable.”
- Invest $20 billion for the urgent upgrade of the electricity grid so it can handle more renewable power, working with the private sector to create thousands of jobs across the regions and deliver cheaper, more reliable electricity to homes and businesses.
- Co-invest $100 million for 85 solar banks across the country – providing cheaper electricity for more than 25,000 households that are locked out of rooftop solar, like renters and low-income households.
- Install 400 community batteries across the country with an investment of $200 million to maximise the benefits of Australia’s rooftop solar transformation, support the grid and provide shared storage for up to 100,000 households.
- Reduce the Australian Public Service’s own emissions to net zero by 2030, with the Australian Defence Force and other national security agencies exempted given their unique operational needs.
Industry, carbon farming and agriculture
- For facilities already covered by the Government’s own Safeguard Mechanism, Powering Australia will adopt the Business Council of Australia’s recommendation that “emission baselines [be] reduced predictably and gradually over time” to “support international competitiveness and economic growth.” These changes will provide a supportive policy framework for industry’s own commitment to net zero by 2050.
- Labor’s Powering the Regions Fund will support innovation by existing industry and the creation of new industries in regional areas to ensure Australia is at the front of the pack in a changing global economy.
- Investment of up to $3 billion from Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund will support renewables manufacturing and the deployment of low-emissions technologies, broadening Australia’s industrial base and boosting regional economic development.
- These policy levers will also support private investment in abatement – with Labor committing to ensuring integrity and co-benefits from carbon credits.
- In agriculture, Powering Australia will focus on the development and commercialisation of emissions-reducing livestock feed, and improve carbon farming opportunities.
- 10,000 New Energy Apprentices will be trained in the jobs of the future, and a $10 million New Energy Skills Program will work with industry, unions and the states and territories to ensure training pathways are fit-for-purpose.
- Introduce an Electric Car Discount to make electric vehicles cheaper by removing inefficient taxes from low-emissions vehicles (import tariffs and the Fringe Benefits Tax will be removed from models below the luxury car tax threshold).
- Provide $14 million to establish a real-world vehicle testing program to ensure Australians aren’t slugged with higher fuel costs than they were expecting, with typical Australian households currently paying $750 a year more for fuel than the advertised fuel efficiency of their vehicle.
- Work with industry, unions, states and consumers to develop Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy, including using existing Commonwealth commitments like roads funding to encourage EV charging infrastructure.
- restore the role of the Climate Change Authority, while retaining decision-making and accountability by Government, including a new annual report to Parliament.
- bid to co-host a future Conference of the Parties in Australia with Pacific partner countries and constructively and ambitiously participate in international forums
- reinstate the position of Climate Change Ambassador in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- ensure large businesses provide Australians and investors with greater transparency and accountability when it comes to their climate-related plans, risks and opportunities
- commission the Director-General of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defence to lead the development of an urgent climate risk assessment.