26 to 28% greenhouse gas emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.
23% renewable energy target for 2020.
A $1 billion investment in the Clean Energy Innovation Fund to encourage new technology in the transition to clean energy.
A $2.55 billion commitment to the Emissions Reduction Fund for incentives for businesses to reduce their emissions.
A 2050 long term sustainability plan that sees $2 billion for government projects for the Great Barrier Reef such as improving water quality, reducing sediment and nitrogen run off, removing crown of thorns starfish and improving scientific knowledge.
A $1 billion investment in the National Landcare Programme for natural resource management.
$50 million to plant 20 million trees by 2020.
The Liberal’s greenhouse gas reduction targets come in at well below the Climate Change Authority’s 45 to 65% recommendation to keep global warming to below two degrees.
The Climate Institute boss John Connor has described the government’s current measures as “inadequate” and their 2030 targets were consistent with three to four degrees global warming and not the 1.5 to two agreed on in Paris.
Australia chose, with bipartisan support, a 2020 reduction target at the low-end of the globally recommended five to 25% , and Prime Minister Turnbull maintains his government is on track to “exceed [it] handsomely.”
Mr Turnbull told the National Press Club during the leaders’ debate last month that Australia has to cut its “emissions between 2020 and 2030 by about 900 million tonnes” and his government has the means and knows how much it will cost.
The Coalition’s policy of 26 to 28% reductions of 2005 levels by 2030 has been criticised however, as 45% reductions is perceived as the floor, not the ceiling, to limit warming below 1.5 degrees. It is also noted that, although the Turnbull government supports net zero emissions, it is yet to set a timeline to achieve it.
A key component of the Coalition’s policy is the Emissions Reduction Fund, which is essentially paying polluters such as miners and farmers to encourage them to stop polluting – a carbon tax in reverse. So that begs the question – should the taxpayers have to pay to stop big business from polluting or should the polluter have to pay to keep polluting?
Environment Minister Greg Hunt told the National Press Club recently that the government had to do the “bulk of the lifting,” but that approach has been labelled inefficient by the Climate Institute which said the Emissions Reduction Fund had already used up 67% of its budget for only a three per cent reduction of the emissions required to meet Australia’s Paris objectives.
Another $2.55 billion in funding is welcome and needed, but whether the cost justifies the output (as in emissions reductions), remains to be seen.
This hasn’t always been the Liberal’s approach. Former Prime Minister John Howard promised to bring in a ‘cap and trade’ emissions trading scheme before he lost the 2007 election, and current leader Malcolm Turnbull even crossed the floor to support the measure in 2010 when in opposition.
The Climate Institute welcomed the decision in the Coalition’s policy to maintain the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA, and also the $1 billion investment in a Clean Energy Innovation Fund, but reaffirmed that Australia needs an “urgent transition from an energy system reliant on burning coal to one based on clean energy within two decades.” The government’s approval of the new Adani Carmichael coal mine in last year seems to work in the opposite direction.
Turnbull is understandably sensitive when it comes to climate change schemes – it contributed to his demise as leader first time round and Labor also lost an election after the carbon tax. The Coalition’s policy is the least ambitious of the three parties (Coalition, ALP and the Greens) putting the health of the Australian economy ahead of deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.