Australia needs an ambitious, common sense
pathway to a low pollution economy.
Labor’s plan gets us there with six key elements

  1. Leading Renewable Energy Economy
  2. Cleaner Power Generation
  3. Build Jobs & Industry
  4. Cut Pollution
  5. Capture Carbon on the Land
  6. Increased Energy Efficiency

I support Labor’s plan for 50% renewables by 2030 and commit to real action on climate change.

Read our plan for 50% Renewables here


Leading Renewable Energy Economy

Climate change is driving the most profound restructuring of the world economy this century – the transition from fossil fuel based energy to renewable energy. The transition is happening now and it is accelerating. With the right policies the renewable energy sector provides immense opportunities: it will drive jobs creation, drive manufacturing investment and put downward pressure on power prices for families and small businesses.

That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Ensure that at least 50% of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030;

  • Expand the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation;

  • Provide $206.6m to ARENA to support a specific Concentrated Solar Thermal funding round;

  • Establish a Community Power Network and Regional Hubs at a cost of $98.7m over four years; and

  • Ensure the Commonwealth Government leads by example as a direct purchaser of renewable energy.

The Liberal Government has done everything in its power to try and destroy Australia’s share in one of the world’s fastest growing industries with devastating consequences for our country. In the last two years more than 2 million renewable energy jobs were added to the global economy, but over the same period 2,900 jobs were lost in Australia.

In 2014, clean energy investment grew in China (32 per cent), the US (8 per cent), Japan (12 per cent), Germany (3 per cent) and the UK (3 per cent). But over the same period, investment in large scale renewables dropped by 88 per cent in Australia– from over $2 billion to around $240 million.

A strong renewable energy sector will be at the centre of Labor’s response to the challenges of climate change. With the right policies the renewable energy sector also provides immense opportunities: it will drive jobs creation, drive manufacturing investment and put downward pressure on power prices for families and small businesses.

Read more about Labor’s plan.


Cleaner Power Generation

A transition is needed to modernise Australia’s electricity sector. Labor’s plan will establish an orderly pathway for this transition. Australia’s electricity generation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution in the economy, producing around one third of the nation’s pollution. It simply must get cleaner.

To achieve this, a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Ensure the National Electricity Market meets the needs of 21st century consumers through an Electricity Modernisation Review;

  • Develop a plan to ensure the orderly transition of Australia’s energy generation from polluting coal-fired power stations to renewable and clean energy, with a core focus on supporting workers and communities; and

  • Implement an electricity emissions trading scheme

Labor’s plan will drive billions of dollars in new investment in renewable energy in Australia - boosting our generation capacity and re-shaping the energy mix that powers our businesses and households. This step up in renewable energy capacity will mean that old, heavy polluting power stations will become less and less a feature of Australia’s energy future.

This shift will require a framework to ensure that the transition is orderly, so that the hand over from old to new sources of generation is in the best interests of the economy and consumers. This framework will need to be designed to strengthen and modernise the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Labor is proposing a standalone approach for cutting pollution in the electricity sector.  Labor recognises that the electricity sector is unique to the economy, and so this package of measures has been structured to best meet our climate change targets in the most efficient way. Labor has designed policy settings to strengthen energy security, apply downward pressure on power prices, and drive the transition to clean sources of power.  

Read more about Labor’s plan.


Build Jobs & Industry

Labor’s guiding philosophy for more than a century has been that a stable job, with decent pay and conditions, is the bedrock of a decent life. Saving for a home, raising a family, having financial security in retirement are only possible when you have a decent job.

Climate change will drive the most significant economic transformation in modern history. That’s why we need a plan to address the challenges posed by a changing climate and create new opportunities for our businesses and industry – and secure the jobs of the future.

To achieve this, a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Establish a Strategic Industries Taskforce to undertake in-depth engagement with emissions intensive, trade exposed (EITE) industries and identify options to support their future competitiveness;

  • The Taskforce will explore the specific challenges and opportunities in each industry, and systematically review both the domestic and global markets they operate within; and

  • Ensure that the Taskforce provides advice to government which is grounded in practical industry thinking and tailored to the unique needs of each sector.

The heightened awareness of climate risk is driving rapid and accelerating innovation in our energy sector, resulting in falling costs for clean technology and renewable energy. On top of this, the increasing market for low-carbon products, new patterns of international production and trade and technological advances have dramatically altered the shape of the global economy over the last two decades.

But there is an important choice for governments the world over – do they support this transition, ensuring their countries and citizens benefit from the change, or do they ignore the shifts, consigning their countries to laggard status in the global race for growth and jobs?

Labor recognises this rapid change means that “Business as usual” is no longer an option - structural change is inevitable, but we need to act now so that we can capitalise on these shifts to build a stronger, fairer and more resilient economy.

The transition of Australia’s economy to a clean energy future is not negotiable.

Read more about Labor’s plan.


Cut Pollution

If climate change continues unmitigated over the coming years, it will cause serious and damaging economic dislocation across the world, with Australia set to suffer the worst consequences. For Australia, unmitigated climate change will come at a huge economic cost, not least of which will include severe and damaging impacts to the nation’s infrastructure and the death of ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia needs to reduce pollution and take serious action against dangerous climate change.

That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Introduce a domestic emissions trading scheme that will have two distinct phases. The first phase is designed to get Australia’s pollution levels back under control and to establish the architecture for an enduring ETS. The second phase will then drive the long-term transition in our economy;

  • Phase one of the ETS will operate for two years, from 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2020 to align with the second (and final) commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol;

  • Phase two of the ETS will operate from 1 July 2020. Pollution levels will be capped and reduced over the course of the decade in line with Australia’s international commitments under the Paris agreement;

  • The broader ETS does not apply to the electricity sector (see separate fact sheet on Cleaner Power Generation); and

  • The scheme will allow business to work out the cheapest and most effective way to operate and will not involve taxpayers handing over billions of dollars to Australia’s large polluters.

Climate change does not just pose a threat to the ecosystems and infrastructure at risk, the costs will be more real and wide ranging. Unabated climate change will cause huge upheaval in financial markets across the world, markets which underpin the wealth of Australians and the retirement incomes of Australia’s ageing population. Recent studies have put the cost of unmitigated climate change to investors around the world at US$2.4-US$24 trillion.

Ambitious global mitigation action is necessary to avert this pending environmental and economic crisis. Recent global agreements have been positive. At the Paris climate change meetings, governments around the world, including Australia agreed to limit temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius whilst also acknowledging the need to for global emissions to peak as soon as possible.

Read more about Labor’s plan.



Capture Carbon on the Land

The farming sector has made the most substantial contribution to emissions reduction in Australia over the past twenty years, largely through the land clearing restrictions placed on the sector at State level as well as the successful Carbon Farming Initiative implemented by the last Labor Government.

It is in the national interest that the sector be able to exploit the new, enhanced export opportunities in a way that is consistent with responsible land management. The land and agricultural sector represent Australia’s largest opportunity in coming years to sequester carbon pollution (through soil carbon methods, re-afforestation, avoided deforestation and more).

That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Work with stakeholders to develop an appropriate “trigger” in federal environmental protection laws to cover Australia’s national and international commitments around climate change;

  • Require the adoption of consistent reporting of land and tree clearing across States and the Commonwealth;

  • Reinvigorate the COAG National Vegetation Management Framework; and

  • Reinvigorate the Carbon Farming Initiative.

Climate change will severely impact on those families, farmers and businesses that depend on natural resources, like agriculture and forestry for their livelihoods.

That’s because climate change means longer droughts in parts of Australia estimated, from 2020, to cost Australia $7.3 billion annually - reducing GDP by 1 per cent, per annum, broken by more damaging floods, more frequent bushfires and more severe storms.

Australia achieved our first commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to restrain carbon pollution (to 108% of 1990 levels by 2012) because of a significant reduction in land sector emissions. These are known technically as “land use, land use change and forestry” or LULUCF. The Kyoto Protocol only set binding targets for pollution reduction on developed nations, and most of them had stopped land clearing a long time ago. Australia lobbied hard to allow reductions in land sector emissions to be counted within the Kyoto Protocol. As a result, that provision is generally described as the “Australia clause”.

Many other developed nations resent such emissions changes being counted, but it was critically important to Australia’s achievement of our first Kyoto commitment. Excluding LULUCF (which many nations do in counting emissions), Australia’s emissions averaged 130% of 1990 levels (rather than 103%) over the first commitment period (2008-2012).

Read more about Labor’s plan.


Increased Energy Efficiency

For Australia to build a strong economy we need to lift productivity across the board. Energy is a key input and significant, growing driver of costs in our economy. That is why we need to put in place strategies to ensure that energy – like labour, capital and other economic inputs – is used efficiently and productively.

To achieve this, a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Double Australia’s energy productivity by 2030;

  • Introduce new emissions standards for motor vehicles to reduce emissions in the transport sector;

  • Support policies that reduce per capita environmental impacts in our cities, including more efficient building design and public transport systems; and

  • Broaden Infrastructure Australia’s role to include new assessment criteria of smart infrastructure and sustainability.

We need to have an energy system that is secure, reliable and sustainable while also being efficient and affordable. Boosting our energy productivity helps lift our overall competitiveness. It will reduce costs for business, improve profitability of enterprise and free up capital for investment and job creation. Improving energy productivity is also key to decarbonising Australia's economy while maintaining economic growth.

Australia remains a relatively energy-intensive economy by OECD standards. Energy productivity improvements in recent years have been poor, against both OECD and G20 averages. Over the past two decades, for example, China has improved its energy productivity twice as fast as Australia. We currently sit in the bottom quartile of OECD nations on this important economic measure.

Australia’s relatively poor performance has been exacerbated by large increases in energy costs in recent years - electricity in the past decade and gas more recently. Energy costs grew by two thirds in the decade to 2011/12 - from $72 billion to $120 billion, which is close to the total private sector labour costs for the whole of Queensland. Over that same decade, average energy prices rose by 38%, while productivity only increased by 16%.

Improving energy productivity can make a significant difference to improvements on overall economic productivity. Strong performance in energy productivity has multiple benefits - reducing pollution and reducing costs for households and business, and driving growth in the national economy.

Read more about Labor's plan.