Mia Armitage & Rob Osborne
Private polling carried out for both Labor and the Liberals, as well as environmental groups, shows climate change is a major concern for voters.
Yet former Liberal Malcolm Turnbull is on the record saying the coalition government includes a group ‘Who believe [Australia] should get out of the Paris agreement and that climate change is a fraud’.
Fast forward to Scott Morrison as the coalition’s prime minister, who is facing an election, and the Liberals have published a Climate Solutions Package policy.
Various measures are listed under the heading of ‘reducing emissions‘, including a commitment that Australia will meet its global emissions targets of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The Snowy-Hydro 2.0 project will go ahead as the world’s second-biggest pumped hydro-renewable power station and the coalition supports plans for Tasmania to supply mainland Australia with hydro power.
The $2 billion Climate Solutions fund is similar to the Abbott government’s Direct Action Emissions Reductions Fund, which uses taxpayers’ funds to pay polluters to reduce their emissions.
On the other hand, Labor says it will aim for emissions reductions of 40 per cent by 2030, largely by converting 50 per cent of Australia’s energy sources to renewables.
An emissions trading system (ETS) is also a policy, with caps placed on emissions from the country’s 250 biggest polluters.
Companies exceeding emissions caps will have to buy credits from other companies that haven’t reached their limits.
Giles Parkinson, editor of Renew Economy, says the financial incentive for companies to invest in more efficient and renewable energy should work.
‘It acts like a market rather than a tax,’ Mr Parkinson says, adding that the system has had success around the world in places like Canada, the United States, and Europe.
While electric car sales make up a very small percentage of the nation’s market, both major parties have announced policies aimed at accelerating the change.
Mr Parkinson says Australians have had little opportunity to buy electric cars so far, other than Teslas with a price tag of more than $120,000.
But he says more affordable electric-car options are starting to reach Australian shores, including models from Hyundai, Nissan, and Tesla.
Electric car sales in Norway are reportedly already more than 50 per cent of all car sales and Mr Parkinson says Australia could reach a similar figure within six years.
But incentives such as a GST exemption on electric cars or reduced registration could help speed up the transition, he says.
Buying electric cars sooner rather than later might be good for the environment, but arguably pointless if drivers have nowhere to charge them. Mr Parkinson says despite some charging points, he recently drove an electric car around Byron Bay and couldn’t find anywhere to charge it.
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