The Greens leader spoke with Yahoo News Australia about his party's key objectives in tackling the climate crisis. Interview: Michael Dahlstrom.
ADAM BANDT: Labor wants more coal and gas. The Greens want us to get out of coal and gas. We're in the middle of a climate crisis, but Labor and the Liberals are backing 114 new coal and gas projects. You can't put the fire out while you're throwing petrol on it, but Labor and the Liberals are both backing more coal and gas in a climate emergency. The Greens plan is to immediately stop opening up new coal and gas mines.
We can have a debate in the next parliament about how quickly to transition out of coal and gases, support workers and communities on the way. But we've got to stop opening new coal and gas mines because that will make the problem worse.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: Would the Greens demand that of Labor if there was a hung parliament, and they were looking to form government?
ADAM BANDT: It is a minority parliament. Our number one issue on the table will be to stop opening new coal and gas mines, will kick the Liberals out but will push Labor to listen to the climate science and stop opening new coal and gas mines. We can have a debate then during the remainder of the parliament about things like targets, transition plans to support workers, and so on.
But number one on the table in any power sharing parliament will be stop opening new coal and gas mines. And I say, I think that will be a very popular position. I think most people in Australia do not want us to be making the climate crisis worse and would back the next government putting a moratorium on new coal and gas projects.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: You're seeing growing frustration. You say it would be a popular decision. Are you seeing growing frustration within the community about the lack of urgency with which previous governments have tackled the climate crisis?
ADAM BANDT: Yes, we've just had three years of droughts, and fires, and floods. People can see we're in a climate crisis, and it's getting worse, and they want action on it. And this election, the Liberal and Labor have both gone out of their way not to talk about the climate crisis. And we firmly believe, the Greens, want to see an end to this terrible government because the government has done everything it can to make the climate crisis worse. But people want to see the next government do better starting with stopping opening new coal and gas mines.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: If we continue down the way that we're heading, can you paint a picture of how you think Australia is going to look by 2030? So we're just talking about eight years away.
ADAM BANDT: Look, I mean, Liberal and Labor's targets, according to the scientists, are both based on the Great Barrier Reef being destroyed. Neither of them are prepared to cut pollution by 2030 in the time that the science requires. We're on track in Australia under current projections for worse droughts, worse fires, worse floods.
And the scientists are very clear that the window to act is closing. 2050 targets are too little, too late. The science is clear. It's what we do in the next decade that counts. And if we don't act before the window closes, then we run the risk that climate change becomes a runaway chain reaction that our kids and our grandkids won't be able to stop.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: Why aren't the future of our kids and grandkids, why isn't this a central focus of other parties?
ADAM BANDT: Liberal and Labor both take donations from big coal and gas corporations, and then write their policies to suit. The influence of coal and gas corporations in politics is huge. The Greens don't take donations from coal and gas corporations so we're free to fight for the science and for the community.
There's also been this real unwillingness from other politicians to have honest conversations with people in coal and gas communities about what a fair transition looks like. And every election time, Liberal and Labor go to these coal communities and say that we can keep opening up coal mines and mining past 2050 and still meet our climate targets. That's just a lie, and the workers in the communities there know it.
I've spent a fair bit of time in the coal and gas communities during the course of this year, saying we need a transition plan that looks after workers. And people are up for the conversation, but they're not getting the leadership from Liberal and Labor. And as a result, at every election, you have Liberal and Labor outbidding each other on being pro-coal But workers can see through it, and they know that without a transition plan, their security is at risk.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: Are you frightened about how this country is going to look in by 2030 or 2050?
ADAM BANDT: The science tells us that there is a lot at risk in Australia if we don't get climate change under control, and Australia is one of the most exposed countries to the climate risk. Farmers are already losing $30,000 a year on average as a result of a changing climate. We're seeing the costs of floods and fires, and that damage bill is set to rise significantly by 2030.
But on the flip side, there's a really good future for Australia if we tackle it because we will protect the places that we love. We will ensure that we are still able to feed ourselves, and we can create new export industries selling the rest of the world our sun and our wind in the form of green hydrogen or direct electricity connected across to Asia. Like we could be the world's renewable energy superpower if we get off coal and gas.
And I also feel more optimistic about the chance of global progress than I have for some time. I think there is a real chance. If we have a change of government, and the Greens can push the next government to stop opening up coal and gas mines, that will send a ripple around the world, and that will give the confidence to other countries to join on the push to get out of coal and gas.
Australia's been a terrible player in international negotiations in the past because the Australian government has insisted on the right to keep opening up coal and gas mines. If Australia press pause on that, then it's going to have a big impact on the global push to tackle climate change.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: Just lastly, if we don't do that, is there an emotion you would attach to how you would feel if Australia continues to push through this business as usual?
ADAM BANDT: Angry. I think people are angry at government's failure to act and are looking for a government prepared to tackle the big issues. And if Liberal and Labor keep saying we can keep opening up new coal and gas mines, then it will make the problem worse, and people will justifiably get angrier. So, but I think this election we've got a chance to turn that anger into action, and that's why I feel optimistic.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: Do you think political parties, Greens included, are at risk of ignoring other major issues like biodiversity loss by focusing on the climate crisis?
ADAM BANDT: We're in both a climate emergency but also an environment emergency and an extension crisis. And we have set strong zero extinction goals that we think are achievable and restoring biodiversity is a key election platform for us. And we've released a costed and comprehensive plan to restore biodiversity and address the extinction crisis. It's absolutely critical and the two need to go hand in hand.
Secondly, we're the only party this election that is saying that once we hit net zero in 2035, we then actually need to start drawing down pollution from the atmosphere. And a big part of that will be reforestation programs and restoration of biodiversity. That's how Australia is going to do it. So built into our climate plan is a significant project of environmental restoration, not only to address the extinction crisis, but also to then begin drawing down pollution from the atmosphere.
MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: Adam Bandt, thank you very much for your time.
ADAM BANDT: Thanks very much.