Which major party has the worst environment policy?
29 April 2019 at 3:06 pm
A scorecard of the major parties’ environment and nature policies has handed the Coalition a “fail”, the ALP a “pass”, and the Greens a “high distinction” in the lead up to the federal election.
The scorecard, released on Monday by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), rated the three parties on 50 key policies across four areas: ramping up renewables, phasing out coal, stopping Adani’s coal mine and protecting nature.
Out of a possible score of 100, the Coalition scored the lowest at four points, Labor did better at 56 and the Greens scored a nearly perfect 99.
ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy told Pro Bono News the point of the scorecard was to cut through the political spin and present facts to voters.
“Elections can be overtaken by politics and political spin but in reality, it’s electing a government that takes action to reduce climate pollution and puts renewable energy into our electricity system,” O’Shanassy said.
“There’s a lot of misleading information out there and this just shows where the parties stand on climate change and action and how they are going to protect nature.”
The ACF said it ensured that all parties were treated fairly when it came to assessing their environment policies.
The ALP’s plans to cut carbon and develop the renewable energy sector were viewed positively, but the lack of commitment to rapidly phase out coal and what it would do about Adani’s coal mine if elected negatively affected the party’s rating.
The Greens policies on renewable energy were rated as “very good”, with commitments that would drive the transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy sector by 2030 and comprehensive protection of reefs, rainforests, and rivers.
The ACF rated the Coalition “very poor” on renewable energy, and said the party had made “piecemeal promises” from pumped hydro, but almost no policies for large-scale solar or wind.
“The party has almost no plans or policies to get Australia well above 23 per cent renewable electricity,” the scorecard said.
The Coalition also lost points when it came to climate action, with points deducted for policies that unwind existing environmental protection or actively seek to harm the environment or exacerbate climate change.
O’Shanassy said the Coalition’s plans to create new coal mines and coal-fired plants put them in negative territory.
“They really are a disastrous government on climate action,” she said.
The government’s signature climate policy, the Emissions Reduction Fund, is a voluntary scheme which pays farmers and businesses to reduce carbon emissions via reforestation, waste management solutions, and land care programs.
The scheme was re-badged the Climate Solutions Fund at the beginning of the year and given a $2 billion cash injection – a move slammed by community groups across the board.
O’Shanassy said the Emissions Reduction Fund had not curbed Australia’s climate pollution.
“For the Coalition to again offer this ineffective policy as its main plan to tackle climate change shows a disregard for farmers, survivors of natural disasters fuelled by global warming and the next generation of Australians,” she said.
While Labor’s plans on renewable energy were graded as “fairly good” by the ACF, O’Shannassy said neither party was doing enough to keep the country safe from climate change.
“Labor has put forward a credible framework for cutting climate pollution and growing the renewable energy sector, but it is only halfway to full marks because of its blind spot on coal and gas, Australia’s biggest sources of climate pollution,” she said.
She said if Labor were elected she hoped more would be done to combat the effects of climate change once the party saw the opportunities renewables presented for the country.
“Once this country moves on climate action we will see that it opens up a lot of opportunities for us, because renewables are actually better for our country, for our jobs, for electricity prices,” she said.
Minor parties including One Nation, United Australia Party, Katter’s Australia Party, the Liberal Democrats and Independent for Wentworth, Kerryn Phillips, failed to respond to the survey.
As a result of door-knocking and campaigning around the country, the ACF said 91,000 Australians have pledged to be “climate voters”.
“I urge every Australian to think about the people you love when you choose who you will vote for in this election. Your vote affects their future,” O’Shanassy said.