Federal Government’s climate policy does little to help people on low incomes transition to clean economy

ACOSS welcomes the long overdue commitment from the Coalition party to a net zero emission goal by 2050 and aspiration to do a little more by 2030, this is an important shift. But it is deeply disappointing to see a closed-door deal that avoids a commitment to stronger 2030 targets and does little to ensure people on low-incomes, impacted workers and communities are supported to drive this change, and benefit directly from the transition to clean economy.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said, “Technology focus alone will not ensure that people on low incomes are able to enjoy the multiple benefits from the transition to a clean economy. We need a plan that puts at its centre the practical policies that will improve the lives of people facing disadvantage and transform our regions and economy to drive down emissions in a fast and fair way.

“People with the least are impacted by climate change first, worse, and longest. This is made even worse by a slow or poorly managed transition because people who are experiencing disadvantage have fewer resources to cope, adapt and recover.

“We should not be investing in costly and polluting technology like carbon capture and storage and locking communities into jobs where there is a declining demand for fossil fuels.

“The Government should, for example, be investing in energy efficiency and solar in low-income homes. This would reduce energy bills by $1,200 a year, create thousands of jobs, and cut emissions. And targeted policies to empower and support First Nations Communities to access and manage renewable energy farms, carbon offset projects and manage country.

“Despite the claims by the Government that it has been motivated by the interests of working people, there appeared to be no consultation with, nor coherent plan for workers and local communities. We need support for community-driven plans supported by a dedicated agency with quarantined funding for worker retraining and redeployment. The plans needs to support the transformation of regional communities to thrive, not a plan for vested interests designed behind closed doors.

“Public money should be spent to accelerate Australia’s transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy and jobs to ensure people, workers and communities share in the opportunities. This deal does not achieve that outcome.

“It also fails to cut emissions fast enough to protect people and places we love, let alone keep pace with similar nations who are cutting 2030 emissions by 50%.”

“Strong emission cuts combined with a fair and inclusive plan will support workers and industries transition, strengthen regional communities, tackle poverty and inequality and rapidly reduce emissions.

As a member of the Australian Climate Roundtable, ACOSS and our members are fully committed to working with the Government and across the community, business, union, industry, agriculture, science and other sectors to deliver results. We must achieve a fast and fair transition if we are to secure the future for people and the planet.

Read our Community Climate Declaration here.