Renewables to rise as Labor targets 43% emissions reduction


Federal Labor will take a 43% by 2030 emissions reduction target to the next election after opposition leader Anthony Albanese officially announced the climate goal on Friday following a special meeting of the Labor caucus in Canberra.

Federal Labor’s Powering Australia Plan would see renewable capacity grow to 26 GW, or 82% of all National Electricity Market (NEM) generation by 2030. The plan also assumes that electric vehicles (EVs) will make up 89% of new car sales in Australia by the end of the decade.

Albanese officially announced the party’s climate goal after the shadow cabinet approved the policy on Friday morning, describing the plan as having the “most comprehensive modelling ever done for any policy by any opposition in Australia’s history since Federation”.

“For nearly a decade the Coalition has failed on energy policy, certainty, and Australia’s jobs opportunity,” he said.

“Less than a month after the biggest climate conference in world history Australia has been asked to try again when it comes to climate policy, after being ranked last in the world.

“The Morrison government is unable and unwilling to rise to this challenge. Labor will, and as we do, we will create jobs, economic opportunities across Regional Australia and cheap power.”

Labor’s plan includes:

  • Modernising Australia’s ageing electricity grid through a $20 billion Rewiring the Nation plan;
  • Up to $3 billion to invest in renewables metals, renewable energy component manufacturing and renewable hydrogen electrolysers;
  • Roll out 85 solar banks around Australia to ensure more households can benefit from rooftop solar;
  • Install 400 community batteries across the country;
  • Removing taxes from low-priced EVs and launch Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy; and
  • A new commitment for the Australian Public Service to reach new zero emissions by 2030.
The Rewiring the Nation policy is designed to bring forward the construction of high voltage infrastructure.

Image: David Carroll

The plan is forecast to create 604,000 extra jobs by 2030, with 80% of them in regional Australia.

Labor said the plan will spur $76 billion of investment and cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year for homes by 2025, compared to today.

“Australian business is leading. It is time that the Australian government caught up,” Albanese said.

“What we have done here and we are announcing today is good policy consistent with (net) zero (emissions) by 2050.”

Labor’s 43% by 2030 emissions reduction target is weaker than the 45% cut the Opposition took to the 2019 poll and what the Business Council of Australia has called for but exceeds the forecasted 35% reduction put forward by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Glasgow summit last month.

Australian Conservation Foundation’s chief executive officer Kelly O’Shanassy said Labor’s plan has laid the groundwork for a solid climate policy, but it needs to go further.

“It envisages an Australia powered by renewable energy where transport does not pollute – and it sets out ways to drive the change that’s needed to get us to this future,” she said.

O’Shanassy said the plan is “strong on renewables” but the emissions reduction target “should be stronger, because all the science says action to cut emissions this decade is crucial”.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific program director Kate Smolski was also critical of the plan, saying it was a missed opportunity to effectively tackle the climate crisis.

“In the midst of a climate crisis, with Australians across the country crying out for stronger climate leadership, the Federal Labor party has produced a timid emissions reduction policy that falls far short of what this country needs to avoid climate catastrophe,” she said.

“The test for Labor is not whether they can promise something a bit better than one of the worst performing governments on climate action in the world. The test for Labor is whether they can meet the urgent need to secure the future of the Australian nation and act fast to reduce the sources of pollution that are driving global warming.”

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