Election 2022: Government's commitment to 2050 climate change target questioned

A conservative think-tank claims there are signs the Federal Government is taking an “overdue walk back” on its net zero by 2050 commitment.

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) says Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s October 26 carbon reduction announcement has led to “significant division in the Coalition”.

They have seized upon the target being called “flexible” and “not binding” by the Nationals’ candidate for the Queensland electorate of Flynn, Colin Boyce, in The Australian.

The IPA says it believes the Coalition is walking back on its 2050 commitment. Source: AAP / Getty (File)
The IPA says it believes the Coalition is walking back on its 2050 commitment. Source: AAP / Getty (File)

“Morrison’s document is a flexible plan, it leaves us wiggle room,” Mr Boyce also told Radio National on Monday.

The IPA’s Director of Research Daniel Wild said it’s clear Coalition candidates are “building the momentum to dump” the government’s 2050 commitment.

While moving away from fossil fuels is central concern of many voters this year, both Labor and Nationals candidates for the seat of Flynn argue coal is essential to jobs in their region.

Independents campaigning on climate, known as the teal candidates, could unseat Liberals in key inner-city seats across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

Government says net zero by 2050 'not a plan at any cost'

The Prime Minister’s office did not respond to a direct question about the IPA’s statements on the 2050 commitment.

A spokesperson for Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said their emissions reduction plan is “not just an environmental one”, but also an “an energy, trade and economic plan”.

“It's about delivering results through technology, not taxes. It's focused on Australia's national interests and strengths,” they said.

“It keeps traditional advantages in the regions while supporting the growth of new industries, and it guarantees we keep downward pressure on cost of living.

“It's not a plan at any cost.”

Conservation group says renewable energy a winner for job creation

While the IPA is warning the phase out will cost jobs, on Tuesday, non-profit Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) released a report highlighting increased jobs the renewable energy sector will create.

They analysed the Eraring coal-fired power station, which is set to close in 2025, and found renewables would create thousands more jobs than replacing it with coal.

A comparable gas plant would create 1566 jobs during the construction phase, and a new coal-fired plant would create 8576.

By comparison, creating renewable energy infrastructure that would inject a similar amount of power into the grid would result in 14,415 jobs from solar, or 13,339 from wind.

Replacing the power station's 2880 megawatts of electricity with rooftop solar could create over 63,000 jobs.

“Replacing old coal with new coal comes a distant fourth in construction jobs, while new gas is the worst creator of energy construction jobs," ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said.

“The energy we use to power our lives is changing to renewables because coal and gas are damaging our climate. Renewables are cheaper, more reliable and create lots of jobs."

Shadow Minister for Climate Change Chris Bowen has been contacted for comment.

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