Australia’s Federal Labor party has released its ‘Powering Australia’ plan which sets out to create jobs, cut power bills and reduce emissions by boosting renewable energy.
“A Labor Government will close the yawning gap between our current Federal Government and our business community, agricultural sector and state governments when it comes to investing in the renewables that will power our future,” the plan states.
At the centre of the plan is the target to reduce Australia’s emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 – to keep the country on track for net zero by 2050. This will see Australia re-join key trading partners in their ambition to 2030, like Canada (with its similar economic base) at 40-45 per cent, South Korea at 40 per cent and Japan at 46 per cent.
Part of this plan is the adoption of the Business Council of Australia’s recommendation that the current Safeguard Mechanism is improved with emission baselines reduced gradually and predictably over time.
“Emissions covered by the Safeguard Mechanism have grown 7 since its commencement in July 2016 rising to 140 Mt of CO2 e in 2020-21 to be 17 above 2005 levels, or just over one quarter 28 of national emissions.”
Labor says its plan represents an opportunity to align federal policy with corporate commitments to reach net zero through investment in least-cost emissions reductions.
This investment may be through internal abatement, external offsets, with industry given the flexibility to discover low cost abatement opportunities and invest in long term emissions reduction technologies
Improvements to the Safeguard Mechanism are projected to deliver 213 Mt of GHG emissions reductions by 2030. Investment in industry abatement is estimated to create 1,600 jobs by 2030 with five out of six of these jobs to be created in regional areas (83 per cent).
Minerals Council of Australia Chief Executive Officer Tania Constable responded to the plan, saying it expects the ALP to consult with industries most affected by changes to the Safeguard Mechanism.
“Consultation with the resources sector, which represents 66 per cent of total exports and are impacted by the Safeguard Mechanism, is critical to ensure their ongoing competitiveness,” she said.
She said the Australian mining industry has committed to an ambition of net zero emissions by 2050 and is acting to achieve this ambition by investing in the technology development necessary to reduce emissions.
“This includes the deployment of renewable energy and battery storage at mining sites, to collaborations and investments in the development of electric haul trucks, hydrogen-power and other low carbon solutions.”
She said it is vital that any policy changes do not force emissions reduction faster than technology and commercial reality can deliver.
“Australia’s world class resources export sector competes based on globally determined market prices and cannot pass on additional imposed costs to export customers.
“Additional costs imposed onto some parts of the sector that cannot be absorbed or passed on to export customers will impact operations, jobs, taxes and royalties for no environmental benefit if the output of those operations is shifted to come from other lower cost, higher polluting jurisdictions.
“To maintain international competitive and investment attraction, major Australian export industries like mining must have policies that support a sustainable reduction in emissions.
“The industry will work with government to ensure the sector’s contribution and potential for the nation is understood and we progress towards net zero by 2050.”
Labor’s Powering Australia plan and modelling is available here.