'No worker left behind': Labor announces 2030 emissions target

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·Environment Editor
·5-min read
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  • Labor's 2030 emissions target will be 43 per cent

  • 80 per cent renewables by 2030

  • Net zero by 2050 commitment

  • Greens call Labor's emissions plan a "backdown"

  • Prime Minister argues the cuts will harm jobs

Federal Labor has announced a new "fully costed" 2030 emissions target ahead of the next election.

Despite being more ambitious than the 26 to 28 per cent goal set by the Coalition, the figure announced today by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is still too weak, according to many climate scientists.

While the Business Council of Australia have advocated for cuts of up to 50 per cent, and the Climate Council 75 per cent, Labor is aiming for a 43 per cent cut in emissions.

Anthony Albanese in parliament.
Anthony Albanese has announced a 2030 emissions reduction target of 43 per cent. Source: AAP

The figure is also well behind many state and territory targets, with Tasmania already at net zero, the ACT working towards 65 to 75 per cent, and South Australia, NSW and Victoria all aiming for up to 50 per cent.

It's also weaker than what federal Labor took to the 2019 election, however Mr Albasese maintains his new plan is in “Australia’s interest”, adding it is “consistent” rather than “radical”.

Greens leader Adam Bandt, whose party wants a 75 per cent emissions reduction, took to Twitter to criticise the plan, calling it a “backdown”.

“Labor and Liberal want more coal and gas and their low targets mean we lose the fight against global warming,” he wrote.

Labor says emissions plan will not leave business behind

Responding to criticism from some green groups, Mr Albanese said Labor's plan has “got the balance right”, adding that it supports jobs and industry.

He said a 43 per cent target is in line with Canada’s, and the move will ensure Australia will “not be in the naughty corner” at future global climate talks.

Labor’s plan aims to create 604,000 jobs, with five out of six of them in the regions, and it will see 80 per cent renewables by 2030.

Its introduction would see major changes in Canberra, with the role of the Climate Change Authority restored and the public service’s emissions reduced to net zero by 2030.

Three billion will be allocated towards investment towards making industry greener, helping to fund fuel switching and reductions in agricultural methane.

Left - A coal fired power station. Right - a burned kangaroo after Black Summer.
Following the Black Summer bushfires more Australians want action to reduce emissions. Source: Getty

Labor argue a planned upgrading of the power grid will drive down electricity prices and that the building of 85 new solar banks will see more households benefit from rooftop capture systems.

“What we have done here and we are announcing today is good policy consistent with net zero by 2050,” Mr Albanese said.

"What we didn't do was adopt a target and then work back.

"This plan will ensure that no business and no worker is left behind. It ensures that Australia can take our place, which we should, as a renewable energy superpower for the world."

Coalition says Labor plan does not get balance right

Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised the policy, saying it would force up electricity prices and impact jobs.

In a nod to the Coalition’s projection that they will cut emissions by between 30 and 35 per cent, he said his government would be able to “meet and beat” their 26 to 28 per cent target.

He said Mr Albanese's plan showed Labor has "learned nothing" since the last election.

"I don't agree that is the right policy for Australia. I don't think that policy keeps the balance right,” he said prior to the launch.

“Getting to net zero by 2050 means you invest in the technologies that that gets you there by 2050.

“You don't do it by forcing people's electricity prices up or forcing people out of jobs.”

Climate Council economist praises plan despite concern about 'missing detail'

Climate Council economist Nicki Huntley praised Labor for producing a "really comprehensive" plan, but said the 43 per cent target "just isn't enough".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison standing in a tunnel wearing hi-vis and a helmet.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he believe's Labor's plan will result in electricity price increases. Source: AAP

Impressed by its detail she said the plan could see Australia no longer be at "the bottom of the pack" when it comes to global emissions reductions.

"Forty-three per cent is kind of the midpoint of what you need to get to to reach net zero by 2050," she told Yahoo News.

"So it's the least they could do while still getting us to where we kind of need to be, but it's probably not ambitious enough."

Given Australia's access to wind and sunshine, she said Australia is capable of doing more than what Labor envisages.

"There's a lot to love in this. It's, it's bold, it's comprehensive, but there's just a bit of detail missing."

Conservation groups say more must be done to tackle climate crisis

Greenpeace Australia Pacific called Labor’s announcement “weak” and a “missed opportunity to effectively tackle the climate crisis”.

The conservation group’s program director Kate Smolski said with an increasing number of Australians calling for tougher action to reduce emissions, the plan is “out of touch”.

“Anthony Albanese needs to read the mood of Australians, who since the last election have suffered through the country’s worst ever bushfires, catastrophic flooding and seen further devastating bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

“What Australia needs now is true climate leadership, not play-it-safe political manoeuvring.”

Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanessy said while Labor had “laid the groundwork” it needed to go further to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

She said the plan was more ambitious than the Coalition’s as it will see a reduction of around 100 million tonnes of climate pollution.

“While Labor’s 2030 target is better than the Coalition’s, it falls well short of what science says is needed to avoid the worst of climate change and it’s not as good as those set by the UK, the USA or the EU, or the target recommended by the Business Council of Australia,” she said.

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