The Greens Climate Policy Credibility Assessment | Election 2016

The Greens

 

 

 

Recent actions undertaken by the Greens in the last Parliament

The Greens consistently defended the carbon pricing mechanism and the CCA, ARENA and CEFC. The Greens also opposed the reduction of the legislated 2020 renewable energy target and have consistently supported ambitious emissions reduction targets. The Greens sought to integrate climate assessments in the Intergenerational Report and initiated the Senate Inquiry into Carbon Risk Disclosure.  

 

Global warming implied by the Greens' target

1.5-2°C – The Greens support a national emission reduction target of  60- 80 per cent on 2000 levels (or 63-82 per cent on 2005 levels) by 2030; and net zero pollution by 2040. If other countries were to match the Greens’ emission reduction targets, global warming would be limited to 1.5-2°C.

Per person emissions implied by the Greens' target

6.8 in 2030 – The Green’s current 2030 target would place Australia 8th amongst G20 nations in 2030.

 

Key features of the Green’s policy and relevant commitments include (TCI analysis in italics):

 

Objective 1: Limit emissions for warming of 1.5-2°C 

  1. Support objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2°C and pursue efforts to keep warming to 1.5°C, and have set out policies on the basis of consistency with the 1.5°C goal. The Greens were the first party to have incorporated the internationally agreed 1.5°C goal into their policy parameters.

  2. Support ratification of the Paris Agreement and are committed to undertaking the work necessary to get Australian ratification of the agreement by the end of 2016.

  3. Reduce Australian emissions by 40-50 per cent on 2000 levels (or 45-54 per cent on 2005 levels) by 2025;  60-80 per cent on 2000 levels (or 63-82 per cent on 2005 levels) by 2030; and net zero pollution by 2040. The strongest emission reduction targets on offer, these would make Australia a world leader in emissions reduction.

  4. Support scaling up public funding and mobilising private sector funding. Further details to be announced. 

  5. Strengthen the Climate Change Authority, increasing its funding back to 2013 levels with a $33.5 million commitment over the forward estimates period, and legislating for its mandate to include a review of Australia’s targets in light of the commitment at Paris to work towards keeping warming below 1.5°C and would fully support legislative changes to report progress against targets. Welcome support for a CCA that is strongly resourced and enabled to provide critical analysis of Australia’s emission reduction task in light of Paris objectives.

Objective 2. Grow a net zero emissions economy and modernise energy

  1. Achieve 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030 through a policy mix including contracts for difference, government tenders and an expansion of the Renewable Energy Target. A new agency, Renew Australia, would be established to manage these processes and oversee changes to the regulatory framework of the electricity market. Retain ARENA’s ability to issue grant funding to support those early stage projects that cannot be utilised through debt-finance, and to retain full funding for ARENA. These policies recognise the significant clean energy opportunity for the electricity sector and could reduce the uncertainty that has undermined Australia’s renewable energy industries. However, this approach would entrust a single government body with a task of enormous complexity and financial responsibility, and significantly increase government ownership of power generation assets which may challenge flexibility and efficiency in response to policy and price signals. 

  2. Gradually phase out coal-fired generation by 2030 through state-specific declining emission performance standards, to be overseen by Renew Australia. Funding of $1 billion over 15 years to be provided to help workers and affected communities adjust. Welcome recognition of the need to progressively retire Australia’s ageing, high-carbon power generators and to assist communities through this process. 

  3. Double energy productivity by 2030 through measures including refurbishing all of Australia’s public and community housing stock with energy efficient appliances and equipment and solar panels over the next 15 years, and vehicle standards equivalent to the EU’s 2020 standards by 2023.Tackling inefficient public sector housing is valuable not just for improving energy productivity but raising living standards and reducing cost pressures for low income households. Strong vehicle efficiency standards.
  4. Free registration of electric vehicles (EVs) and a $200 million grant fund for strategically placed EV charging infrastructure. Welcome recognition of the need to enable widespread uptake of EVs but could include measures beyond subsidies and grants.

  5. Remove subsidies for the mining industry including fuel tax credits, immediate deductions for exploration and accelerated depreciation, which will generate around $21 billion over the estimates. Commit to putting a price back on pollution. Welcome commitment to removing fossil fuel subsidies, including the subsidy of unpriced carbon emissions.

  6. Compensation for the impacts of carbon pricing for lower income households and assistance for emission-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) industries, subject to the independent assessment of payments and EITE coverage by the Productivity Commission. These are important principles but there is an implied contradiction with the commitment in Greens Reef or Coal Plan of “no more free permits or giveaways to big polluters [specifically, coal or unconventional gas miners]”: some flexibility to retain international competitiveness, under close Productivity Commission scrutiny, may be important.  

  7. Support assessment of policies against the social costs of carbon indicators and other policy evaluation tools. Welcome recognition that the costs of carbon pollution should be included in policy evaluation.

Objective 3. Mainstream climate risk and opportunity assessments

  1. Boost funding for disaster preparedness to $200 million, to be spent on works like levees, improved flood drainage, fire breaks, and on supporting state emergency services. An important step toward rebalancing spending on pre-disaster mitigation rather than post-disaster recovery.

  2. Supports requiring consideration of climate risks and carbon budgets in all relevant national policy framework development. Very important that government decision-making incorporates analysis of the costs of climate change and the opportunities of emission reduction.

  3. Resume Senate Inquiry on Carbon Risk Disclosure. Welcome pursuit of important issue and valuable inquiry.

  4. Fund NCCARF and undo $300 million CSIRO cuts. Welcome support for Australia’s essential climate change knowledge base.

Policy positives

  • Ambitious emission reduction targets consistent with Paris Agreement objectives.

  • Focus on transition to clean energy with orderly retirement of high-carbon coal generators and support for community and workers.

  • Commitment to integrating climate risk assessments into all relevant policy processes.

  • Improving the energy efficiency of Australia’s public and community housing helps vulnerable households improve living standards and manage energy costs.

  • Support for NCCARF and CSIRO maintain the ability of Australia’s key sources of climate change research to inform adaptation. 

Policy negatives

  • Heavy reliance on a new government agency and major government spending to drive the transformation of the electricity system.

  • Inconsistent treatment of emission-intensive trade-exposed industry assistance.

Summary of the Greens' climate policy position

The Greens emission limits are aligned with the international task necessary to keep warming to 1.5-2°C. The proposal to grow renewable energy to 90 per cent of supply relies on significant government intervention in, and reform of, the electricity system, which may help reduce the uncertainty that has hindered Australia’s clean energy industries but also presents a potential risk to competitive and flexible markets for clean energy services. An inconsistent approach to emissions intensive industry assistance may hinder political durability but strong Productivity Commission oversight of assistance is important. The Greens’ attention to vulnerable groups is important to help provide equitable outcomes. The Greens have continued their leadership on resilience policy.  The Green’s current and proposed policy framework is assessed as: ambitious, lead on resilience policy but some inflexibility risks. 

Where will Australia’s 2030 per capita pollution stack up with each of the parties policies?
Impacts of 1°C, 1-2°C, 2-3°C and +3°C of global warming to Australia.
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