The ‘climate election’ we need to have

school_strike.jpgAs 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.

Context

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 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 1.5 C.

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.

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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 confirmed 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 contamination 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.

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