Major parties expose Australia to climate risks: Pollute-o-Meter 2013 Media Release

Jul 19, 2013 - 10:30am

Electoral policies of both major political parties leave Australians unprepared for costly climate impacts and offer a mixed bag on pollution reductions and low carbon investment, The Climate Institute said today with the release of its first Pollute-o-meter assessment of the climate policies of significant parties and Independents.
“The climate policies of major parties and Independents show plenty of room for improvement as we head towards the Federal election,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. 
As in previous elections, The Climate Institute has translated the analysis behind parties’ policies into an easy to use, interactive online tool that ranks their performance on a star system. The 2013 Pollute-o-Meter can be found at 
"On almost all policies, Australians will be exposed to the extra costs and dangers already evident as global warming boosts the intensity and frequency of bushfires, storms, floods and drought,” said Connor.   
“While both major parties recognise the national climate interest in avoiding 2 degrees warming, they are yet to offer clear guidance in national policies such as infrastructure and health that would prepare Australia for a 2 degree, let alone the 4 degree world that are we currently on track to realise.” 
“Preparing for climate impacts, which by contrast was a feature in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, must be accompanied by strong climate action that cuts carbon pollution and boosts low carbon investment. On this point the current proposed policies offer a mixed bag." 
Current overall ratings out of a possible five stars are:
ALP                                           2.5/5 stars
Coalition                                  1/5 stars 
Democratic Labour Party      0/5 stars 
Greens                                     5/5 stars 
Katter’s Australia Party          0/5 stars 
Andrew Wilkie                         1.5/5 stars 
Nick Xenophon                       0.5/5 stars

The Climate Institute wrote to the parties and Independents with early assessments and discussed these with most in coming to this interim assessment. 
The Institute will release further assessments as parties and Independents clarify or add to their existing policies during the 2013 Federal election campaign. Next month it will also release a quantitative Pollute-o-Meter assessment of the pollution abatement potential of the policies of the ALP and the Coalition.

Both the current Government and the Coalition have committed under international agreements to emission reductions of up to 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, dependent on global action. 

“The primary credibility of any emission reduction policy to Australians and the international community rests on the ability to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in emission by 2020,” Connor said.

"Post 2020 cuts and other policies will also be crucial in enabling Australia to help pursue its national climate interest in the goal agreed with US, China and others of keeping global warming below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”  

"The ALP, the Greens and Andrew Wilkie support an absolute limit on major polluting industries that can clearly help achieve 25 per cent reductions. Clearer commitments are needed from all but the Greens on boosting international climate solutions in the world's poorest countries, a crucial investment in global solutions." 

“In contrast, the Coalition as yet offers no certainty on achieving the supported carbon reduction targets. Its policies do not yet make major emitting industries take responsibility for achieving the necessary absolute decline in carbon emissions.” 

“Uncertainty also plagues investment in renewable energy under the Coalition's policy, as while they support the Renewable Energy Target they have committed to review the 41,000 GWhr legislated large-scale renewable target in 2014.” 

“Just last week Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that 2012 renewable energy investment in Australia fell by around 25 per cent of 2011 levels due to policy instability. Another review of the Renewable Energy Target just compounds investment risks, stalls investments and drives up the cost of energy sector financing.” 

“Low-carbon investment doubt is further compounded by the lack of clarity on how the carbon price penalties on major emitting industries would be applied in the Coalition's stated policy.”

“Both major parties can do more in boosting energy productivity and efficiency an area much underdone despite research showing this can be worth tens of billions of dollars in economic growth and could have helped avoid the mostly costly impact on electricity prices, the expansion of poles and wires infrastructure.” 

“As the Prime Minister noted in Parliament’s last Question Time, with extensive action emerging in China and elsewhere this is a competitiveness issue for the Australian economy not just a matter of public health and environmental risks.”  

“It’s vital that we boost investment in low carbon solutions here in Australia as well as help the global effort in pursuit of our national climate interest.” 

“The Greens score strongly in all three areas, in particular with their added focus on corporate/investor disclosure and sharper focus on climate risks.” 

The Climate Institute has based its assessment on analysis of what is required for Australia to contribute to effective global climate change solutions and build a prosperous, resilient economy and society. For further detail on the policy tests on which the analysis is based, see the Institute’s policy brief Managing the Unavoidable while Avoiding the Unmanageable .

*At the 2010 election neither of the major parties were remotely passable with the ALP on 1 and a half stars, to the Coalition’s half a star out of 5. On the Pollute-o-meter abatement test the Coalition were better than the ALP, but both policy sets led to 2020 increases, not reductions, of greenhouse gas emissions of 8 and 19 per cent respectively.

For more information
John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8329 6299

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