As pre polling opens for the 2022 federal election, climate change and the environment have been largely missing from the mainstream debate.
Yet what happens at this election will impact climate and environment, in a time where science makes it abundantly clear that we don’t have time to waste if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Why does climate and environment matter when there are so many pressing immediate issues, like the cost of living, health and employment?
- Global monthly average carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have reached above 420 parts per million (ppm) for the first time on record.
- Global temperatures have risen about 1C since 1900, overwhelmingly due to greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, the average increase has been 1.4C. It has been linked to unprecedented bushfires, rainfall events that have caused catastrophic flooding and four mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef since 2016.
- There is scientific consensus about the risk of irreversible climate impacts if 1.5C of warming is passed for even a short period of time.
- Since colonisation, more than 100 native species have been made extinct and more than 1,900 Australian animals, plants and ecological communities are at risk of extinction.
- According to the Vote Compass surveys, climate change is the top issue for voters.
How do the parties rate on climate?
A key issue to look for in judging how seriously political parties take climate change is to look for their promised emission reduction targets.
The emission cuts the four major parties promise for 2030 are:
- Greens: 75%
- Labor: 43%
- Coalition (Liberal/ National): 26-28%
Recent research by Climate Analytics found neither major party had emissions reduction goals that lived up to the commitment that was made in the landmark 2015 Paris agreement, and strengthened in last year’s Glasgow climate pact, to aim to limit heating to as close as possible to 1.5C.
For reference, the Climate Analytics analysis found that Australia should cut its emissions by 57% by 2030 to be compatible with a 1.5C heating goal.
The image above comes from FoE's 'Race to zero emissions' action recently held in Melbourne (check here for video).
Liberal National Coalition
According to analysis by Climate Analytics, the Morrison government’s climate change commitments are consistent with more than 3C of global heating, bordering on 4C, a level that would lead to catastrophic damage across the planet.
The Liberal’s environment and energy policies can be found here.
The Nationals don’t have a specific policy covering climate change. Climate change is not one of the Nationals top five priorities. You can find their policies here.
The Australian Labor Party
The ALP has reaffirmed its plans to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45% on 2005 levels by 2030, and ensure 50% of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030. Additionally, it has announced a long term target of net zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050.
Labor’s climate target was found to be consistent with about 2C of heating above pre-industrial levels. Both would be expected to lead to the loss of tropical coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, and a significant rise in the number of extreme heat events in Australia, assuming other countries took equivalent action.
The ALP’s climate platform can be found here.
The ALP’s environment policies can be found here.
The Australian Greens
The Greens say Australia should be cutting by 75% by 2030.
The Greens climate platform is available here.
The Greens environment platform is available here.
The Climate Independents
The ‘teal’ independents largely support a climate bill proposed by Zali Steggall that includes a 60% target.
There are more than 22 candidates covered under the Climate 200 umbrella. They are self described as being ‘pro-climate, pro-integrity and pro-gender-equity Independent candidates’.
You can details on them, and their individual policies, here.
The micro parties
Be aware that many of the micro parties are deeply anti environment and opposed to government taking meaningful action on climate change. These include
- Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON is a climate change denialist party)
- Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party
- The Liberal Democrats (who advocate for the deployment of nuclear power)
- Far right independents like those associated with ‘Australia One’ who have been focusing on harvesting anti-vaccine-mandate and anti-lockdown sentiment. The Australian Federation Party is conservative, anti-public health, and has no formal climate, energy, environment policies. There are many candidates running on a ‘Freedom platform’ against public health orders and vaccination mandates. Most of them have no climate or environment policies. This is a good (Melbourne focused) assessment of the policies of many micro parties.
Most of these groups hold climate denier/ anti environment positions. If you are considering voting for them, we urge you to check their policies on climate, energy and environment.
Where do the parties stand on forests?
While native forest logging is primarily the responsibility of state governments, there is still federal overlap and responsibility.FoE member Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) has looked into where the parties stand on forest policy.
Friends of the Earth has not produced a scorecard for this election. Here are some links to other groups assessments.
Vote Climate. Available here.
Climate and Health Alliance. Available here.
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. Available here.
How do the parties rate on First Nations issues?
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) has rated the parties.
Their score card covers the following issues:
- CLOSING THE GAP – The Federal obligations to the New Agreement on Closing the Gap
- INJUSTICE AND INCARCERATION – Addressing the injustice of disproportionally high incarceration rates
- CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM – Including the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart
- HERITAGE PROTECTION – Ensuring the protection of living culture and cultural landscapes
Their assessment is available here.
How do the parties rate on refugees?
The Refugee Council of Australia has rated the parties. Their assessment is available here.
How do the parties rate on trade justice?
What is trade justice? In the election context ot means international trade policies that will benefit people, workers and the environment rather than big corporations.
AFTINET has looked at the policies of the LNP, ALP, Greens and Centra Alliance and rated them on a range of trade justice issues. Some examples include supporting a temporary waiver on trade rules for COVID19 medicines, opposing deregulation of essential services, supporting enforceable labour rights in trade deals.
The assessment is available here.
Please sign our petition to the PM, urging him to adopt science based climate targets.
Sign our petition: Call on Federal govt MPs for a science-based climate target here.
For information on voting, please check the AEC website.
Coalition climate target consistent with more than 3C global heating, research says (The Guardian)
Vote Compass data shows climate change, cost of living and the economy are the big election issues, but voters still split along party lines (via the ABC website)
Authorised by Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth Australia, 312 Smith St, Collingwood, VIC.