(Reuters) – Australia’s general election on Saturday could hinge on climate policy, as targets for cutting carbon emissions by 2030 have emerged as a key campaign issue.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition and the opposition Labor have downplayed climate issues, focussing on cost-of-living challenges. This has sparked a campaign by independent candidates pushing for tougher action to fight climate change.
In a major coal and gas producing country devastated by drought, bushfires and floods since the last election three years ago, the main parties are committed to net zero emissions by 2050 but split over what needs to be done this decade.
Following are the key climate and energy-related policies on which the two sides differ. For other policy comparisons, see [L3N2XB0JW].
CARBON EMISSIONS TARGETSLiberal-National coalition
* Targeting a 26% to 28% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 but says a 35% cut can be achieved by then.
* Targeting a 43% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, in line with key trading partners South Korea and Japan.
EMISSIONS “SAFEGUARD MECHANISM”
* Companies that emit more than 100,000 tonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) have government-approved baselines of allowable emissions. To offset excess emissions, they must buy and surrender Australian carbon credit units, or can apply for a new baseline or a multi-year monitoring period.
* Expand the “safeguard mechanism” to apply to companies that emit more than 25,000 tonnes a year of CO2-e and gradually lower companies’ allowed emissions baselines. Provide support to exporters in hard-to-abate sectors.
TRANSMISSION, RENEWABLE ENERGY
* Set up a A$1 billion ($700 million) Grid Reliability Fund to spur transmission projects to enable new solar and wind farms to connect to the grid. Investing A$1.4 billion to help build a hydrogen industry.
* Vows A$20 billion in cheap financing for industry to build transmission capacity for new renewable-energy projects. Plans to install 400 community batteries – big batteries that could be used to store excess energy from rooftop solar panels – and allocate up to A$3 billion from a national reconstruction fund towards new energy industries and A$100 million to train workers in new energy jobs.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES (EVs)
* Pledges A$178 million to ramp up the rollout of hydrogen refuelling and electric vehicle charging stations and aid purchases of EVs by government and business fleets. Expects battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to make up 30% of annual new car and light truck sales by 2030.
* Promises an electric car discount from July 1, which would exempt EVs, including hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, priced below A$78,000, financed by a 5% import tax and a 47% fringe benefits tax. Proposes to work with industry, unions, states and consumers to come up with a national EV strategy.
($1 = 1.4347 Australian dollars)
(Compiled by Sonali Paul; Editing by William Mallard)