ALP poised to aban­don car­bon plan

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - ROSIE LEWIS GREG BROWN

La­bor’s con­tentious 2030 cli­mate tar­get to cut emis­sions by 45 per cent could be scrapped, amid con­cerns an Al­banese gov­ern­ment would not have time to achieve such a re­duc­tion if elected at the next poll, due in 2022.

As La­bor lead­ers en­gage in a vig­or­ous pub­lic de­bate over the party’s pol­icy plat­form in the wake of the shock elec­tion loss in May, mem­bers of An­thony Al­banese’s par­lia­men­tary team have told The Aus­tralian that con­sid­er­a­tion is be­ing given to scrap­ping the 45 per cent tar­get to fo­cus on a net zero pol­lu­tion tar­get for 2050.

Op­po­si­tion as­sis­tant cli­mate change spokesman Pat Con­roy said La­bor’s net zero emis­sions tar­get was more im­por­tant than its 2030 tar­get.

“La­bor is eval­u­at­ing all its poli­cies and we need to make sure that we adopt a tra­jec­tory that de­liv­ers net zero emis­sions by 2050,” Mr Con­roy said. “That has to be the over­rid­ing ob­jec­tive.”

Some La­bor MPs said the mes­sage of “zero net emis­sions by 2050” would be clearer than the 45 per cent tar­get, while main­tain­ing the party’s cli­mate change cre­den­tials.

The Op­po­si­tion Leader and La­bor’s cli­mate change and en­ergy spokesman Mark But­ler have de­clared there must be changes to the party’s plat­form.

La­bor was pun­ished at the May elec­tion in re­gional and coalmin­ing seats, par­tic­u­larly in Queens­land and Tas­ma­nia, as front­benchers equiv­o­cated on Adani’s Carmichael mine and then leader Bill Shorten was un­able to cost his cli­mate change poli­cies.

There is a grow­ing be­lief among some La­bor MPs that hit­ting a 45 per cent emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get by 2030 would be harder if the party was elected in 2022 than it would have been if it won of­fice in May.

Mr Con­roy said La­bor had not fi­nalised whether it would junk its 45 per cent tar­get but said any new tar­get for 2030 would need to be higher than the gov­ern­ment’s 26-28 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els.

“What I can say cat­e­gor­i­cally is the gov­ern­ment’s 26 per cent tar­get by 2030 is grossly in­ad­e­quate,’’ he said.

“We need to lift that tar­get for 2030 and ar­rive at a tar­get con­sis­tent with net zero emis­sions by 2050. Achiev­ing an ad­e­quate tar­get by 2030 will be dif­fi­cult, given emis­sions are ris­ing ev­ery year un­der this gov­ern­ment.

“The goal has to be long-term de­car­bon­a­tion of the econ­omy and so the 2050 tar­get is ob­vi­ously the key ob­jec­tive. To be car­bon­neu­tral by 2050 is es­sen­tial to Aus­tralia and we need to adopt a tra­jec­tory … con­sis­tent with that.”

Af­ter Mr Shorten’s strug­gle dur­ing the elec­tion campaign to ar­tic­u­late the cost of coun­ter­ing cli­mate change, de­tails on how La­bor would achieve its tar­gets

are ex­pected to be more am­bigu­ous at the next elec­tion.

Some MPs be­lieve pro­pos­als should only be fi­nalised if the party wins gov­ern­ment. La­bor is aware of fears the high tar­gets sparked about job losses in min­ing and other in­dus­tries.

Mr Con­roy’s com­ments fol­lowed Mr But­ler’s call­ing for a ruth­less and un­spar­ing re­view of the party’s poli­cies, in­clud­ing on cli­mate change and en­ergy.

Mr But­ler said all of La­bor’s elec­tion poli­cies were un­der re­view but the party was “deeply com­mit­ted” to ac­tion on cli­mate change and the Paris Agree­ment’s goal to limit global warm­ing to well be­low 2C, to avoid the most dan­ger­ous im­pacts of cli­mate change for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

This was “un­like the Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment, which re­mains com­mit­ted to ig­nor­ing grow­ing calls from the ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralians for real ac­tion on cli­mate change”.

“The gov­ern­ment’s own data shows car­bon emis­sions, un­der the Lib­er­als’ in­ad­e­quate cli­mate poli­cies, have been ris­ing ever since 2014 and will con­tinue ris­ing all the way to 2030,” he said.

Op­po­si­tion agri­cul­ture and re­sources spokesman Joel Fitzgib­bon, who suf­fered a 9.48 per cent two-can­di­date-pre­ferred swing against him in his NSW min­ing elec­torate of Hunter, said La­bor had to re­dou­ble its ef­forts on mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion to help farm­ers.

“We’ve lost seven, near eight years now, of op­por­tu­nity to take ac­tion both in mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion, and sadly we can’t get that time back,” he told the ABC.

“Now we need to re­dou­ble our fo­cus, re­dou­ble our ef­forts on those four points I made: mit­i­ga­tion, or in other words cli­mate change ac­tion; adap­ta­tion, things like re­gen­er­a­tive farm­ing, chang­ing the prac­tices of both farm­ers and con­sumers more gen­er­ally.”

Rev­e­la­tions se­nior La­bor MPs are dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of aban­don­ing the 45 per cent tar­get come a day af­ter Left MPs Kim Carr and Ged Kear­ney warned col­leagues against be­ing seen to ca­pit­u­late to gov­ern­ment poli­cies.

La­bor’s for­eign af­fairs spokes­woman Penny Wong fired back, say­ing any sug­ges­tion the party was ca­pit­u­lat­ing was a Greens tac­tic and must be taken on. The Greens want net zero or net neg­a­tive Aus­tralian green­house gas emis­sions “by no later than 2040” and have set a re­new­able en­ergy tar­get of 100 per cent by 2030.

Op­po­si­tion le­gal af­fairs spokesman Mark Drey­fus said the elec­tion re­sult had caused “shock right across Aus­tralia be­cause of the deep ex­pec­ta­tion” that La­bor would win. “We do have to re­view the way in which we cam­paigned, we do have to re­view the poli­cies we took to the peo­ple at the last elec­tion,” he told the Na­tional Press Club.

“That’s an en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate process for us to be en­gag­ing in.”

Scott Mor­ri­son said Aus­tralia was do­ing the “heavy lift­ing” in set­ting and meet­ing its cli­mate tar­gets af­ter in­vest­ing bil­lions of dol­lars to ex­ceed the Ky­oto 2020 tar­get — to re­duce emis­sions by 5 per cent be­low 2000 lev­els — by 367 mil­lion tonnes.

“Plenty of other coun­tries set tar­gets; not many like Aus­tralia meet them in the way we meet them,” the Prime Min­is­ter said.

GETTY IM­AGES

Op­po­si­tion Leader An­thony Al­banese mo­tions for calm dur­ing ques­tion time in the lower house on Wed­nes­day

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