Coalition victory could set climate agenda back years

Media release November 28, 2010FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

Coalition victory could set climate agenda back years

Environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has expressed grave concern at the prospect of the Coalition taking power following yesterday's state election because of its approach to climate change issues.

FoE's campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker said "the Coalition was noticeably absent from the climate change debate through most of this year, leaving the hard policy work on key issues like Hazelwood to the Greens and ALP. They were not even prepared to release their climate change policy before the election".

"The fact they released their energy plan just 4 days before the election seems to indicate that they did not want voters to have the time to seriously consider their position on this complex issue".

"There are various points of detail in that policy that should worry anyone who is wanting action on climate change from the Party that forms the next state government. This includes the fact that they have no detail on how Victoria might meet the existing 20% emissions reduction target, that there is no mention of the scale of the problem of climate change, and there is no direct commitment to a phase-out of Hazelwood or any other coal fired power station. And finally, it includes a regressive policy on wind farms.

"As the Clean Energy Council has already noted, if this policy was enacted, it would put 'thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of energy projects … at risk' This will impact directly – and negatively – on regional areas".

"From an environmental viewpoint, one significant detail from the results to date is the fact that the ALP have held a number of rural seats where there are substantial wind farm and other renewable energy projects planned or under-way, such as Rippon. Despite some noisy opposition and attempts to make renewables an election issue, this clearly did not have a substantial impact on the outcome in these seats, suggesting that even in electorates with wind farms there is widespread support for renewable energy projects."

"As leader, Ted Baillieu has shown a complete lack of vision on climate change. The next few years are pivotal if the global community is to respond effectively to the threat of global warming. Victoria must do its fair share of this work. Based on their actions over the past year, it seems clear that a Coalition government would send Victoria backwards on this most pressing of issues."

In the build up to the election, environment groups released a series of scorecards assessing Party policies. In the final version, the Greens scored 93%, the ALP was next best on 52% and the Coalition was far behind on just 22%.

The scorecard can be found here.

Further comment: Cam Walker 0419 338 047

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 26 November, 2010

Victorian environment in voters’ hands this Saturday

Victoria’s four leading environment groups have published a final assessment of the main parties’ environment policies the day before the state election, saying the next four years will be crucial for deciding the fate of Victoria’s climate, rivers, forests and wildlife.

After a flurry of minor environmental policy announcements during the last week of the campaign, the final scores are Labor 52%, the Coalition 22% and the Greens 93%.

The Coalition picked up 7 points after finally releasing its energy and water policies this week while Labor earned an extra 1.5 points for their parks and environment policy.

Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:

"The next state government will hold office for a critical four year window for the environment. Scientists tell us that this is the decade that matters for climate change, for saving the Murray Darling basin, and for protecting our remaining old growth forests. Anyone who aspires to lead the state for this period needs a clear and comprehensive plan for environmental leadership.

"Labor has just scraped through with a pass on the scorecard, with some good environmental policies but not enough to turn things around for our environment. However the Coalition has failed to propose a credible environment and climate change platform. Any party that does not deliver a credible plan to address issues like climate change does not deserve to be in office.

Friends of the Earth Campaigns Coordinator Cam Walker said:

"On the major issue of climate change, most of the Coalition’s policy has been cherry-picked out of the ALP’s Climate White Paper. The few original policy ideas they’ve put forward either won’t have much impact on carbon pollution, or will actually make it harder to develop renewable energy plants.

"The Greens have really moved the debate on climate change forward by offering practical, large scale solutions. Labor has taken some first steps by beginning to act on Hazelwood and supporting large scale solar, however we need solutions that recognise the scale of the problem that we find ourselves in. The Coalition on the other hand has hardly contributed to the debate.

The Wilderness Society’s Victorian Campaigns Manager Gavan McFadzean said:

"Forest protection is one issue where voters face a clear choice between three starkly different policies from the three main parties. The Coalition has promised to intensify native forest logging, Labor will abolish VicForests and support negotiations to find agreement among stakeholders on reducing logging, and The Greens offer immediate protection for old growth forests".

"The choice that voters make this Saturday will make a real difference to the future of Victoria’s magnificent native forests.

Victorian National Parks Association’s Executive Director Matt Ruchel said:

"The major parties have been a ‘small target’ on conservation policy. Neither Labor or the Coalition have committed to creating significant new conservation reserves, in fact both parties ruled out even considering further protection of the marine environment or significant increase in funding for management of our natural areas"

"Both major parties nature conservation policies have been piecemeal and scattered, lacking new ideas or vision, and far from what is needed to reverse the decline in our natural habitats, in the most ecologically cleared and stressed state in Australia".

For comment contact:

Kelly O’Shanassy, EV 0421 054 402

Matt Ruchel, VNPA 0418 357 813

Cam Walker, FoE 0419 338 047

Gavan McFadzean, TWS 0414 754 023

The full assessment is available here.