How Do The Major Parties Measure Up On Climate Policy?


The countdown to election day is on and my anxiety is climbing faster than the temp in my sharehouse in January. This election is a Big One because the Coalition’s held power for almost a decade and this is Australia’s chance for change. So we’re here to help you understand and compare each major party’s promises and policies and lay it all out without the political spin.

NOTE: promises are often broken. So we’ve also prepared a little look back at the voting track records of Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese and Adam Bandt — because what they do speaks louder than their words.

We’ll compare the Coalition, Labor and the Greens’ policies on all the issues important to young people.

We’ve narrowed them down to: climate change, the cost of living and housing, women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, First Nations rights, mental health and education.

Climate policy, let’s go.

In the last decade Australia has seen its worst bushfires in history and some of its most devastating floods. We currently sit dead last out of 64 countries in international rankings for climate policy. So how does each party measure up?

The Coalition’s election promises on climate

It’s in the name really: COALition.

The Liberals and the Nationals rose to power in 2013 on a platform of climate change fear-mongering. No no, not scaring people about the effects of climate change as they should have been doing, scaring people about the dramatic changes required to move away from fossil fuels and the loss of traditional industry and infrastructure that comes with them.

But they’ve been under increasing pressure every year to STFU as the effects of climate change have become far more severe and local. They can no longer deny climate change or say it’s some distant issue for other countries to deal with, it’s here and it’s hurting us.

So what are they promising to do about it?

Ahead of the COP26 conference in Glasgow in 2021 the government finally (after years of internal feuding) committed to a net zero target.

It promised to reduce emissions by 26 per cent by 2030 (based on 2005 levels, not all-time levels) and to hit net zero by 2050.

But it didn’t really announce a plan for how it planned to achieve this other than saying it would “focus on technologies and not taxes.”

It sounds nice but the problem here is that it has also refused to commit to phasing out coal power and last month committed to several new fossil fuel projects which will last decades. So like, gonna increase emissions while also reducing emissions? Very good maths-ing.

The Morrison Government has promised to invest more than $22 billion in “low emissions technologies” over the next 10 years if elected, which it said would “[drive] over $88 billion of total investment to reduce emissions while growing the economy and creating jobs across Australia”.

Again… how…?

It also has a whole raft of small-game promises on recycling and waste reduction, protecting the Great Barrier Reef, cleaning up waterways and uh, Antarctic research. You can read them here. But experts say none of these projects or investments will mean a damn thing if the cause of their destruction — climate change — isn’t addressed.

You can’t protect the forests if they’re choking on smoke. You can’t protect coral if it’s already boiled to death.

Labor’s climate policy

If elected Labor has promised to reduce carbon emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is higher than the Morrison Government’s 26 to 28 per cent commitment but well below the 50 per cent minimum experts say is required for the world to avoid heating beyond 1.5ºC and the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

But hey, it’s still better than a fair few governments around the world and it would raise our ranking from dead last.

Labor has also set out some dollar figures, including a $76 billion investment into upgrading Australia’s energy industry to include more renewable power. Being the Labor party, it’s very focussed on investment, workers and creating and maintaining good jobs in new and up-and-coming industries, which is a good thing.

And on Sunday at its official campaign launch in Perth Labor unveiled a $500m “driving the nation” fund to invest in electric vehicle chargers as well as hydrogen and biofuel stations. It said it would build EV charging stations on major roads nationwide at 150km intervals with the aim of encouraging more people to buy EVs — which it also plans to make cheaper.

It also pledged to invest in battery-building infrastructure using minerals like lithium and nickel that are already mined here, rather than exporting them.

But again, the same paradox as the Coalition’s exists: Labor has matched the government’s stance on fossil fuels and committed to building more coal mines and coal-fired power plants in future. Soooo… how would this net zero thing work? Bottom line is they haven’t addressed this yet.

The Greens’ climate policy

The Greens obviously have the most ambitious climate policy of the three.

If by some miracle (it’s not going to happen) the Greens formed government, they’ve pledged to reduce emissions by a whopping 75 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2035. Huge.

To achieve this it’d basically have to place an immediate ban on new fossil fuel projects and phase out current fossil fuel mining and burning by 2030. Very impressive but it’s simply not going to happen so they can afford to reach for the stars — as Bandt said all politicians should.

The party has also stepped out a wholistic approach to supporting people in the transition away from fossil fuels including more public transport infrastructure, investment in electric vehicles, grants for homes to convert to renewable and restoring land.

Its policy is a pretty inspiring read tbh. So even though they won’t form government, they will put forward and vote for bills that get us closer to achieving these big goals. Bandt is the only Greens member in the federal House of Representatives, so if he has a few more buddies in there this time round they could have more influence and do a lot of good for the planet.