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Positive vision for climate response from Labor

Labor climate response

Hear it all now in the podcast with Mark Butler

The Bulletin is adding some podcasts and here’s our first. With a federal election looming, Federal Shadow Minister for the Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler recently outlined what Australia can and must do to lower emissions and transition away from fossil fuels. Transport and electric vehicles, renewable energy, stopping land clearing and focus on health are key areas for positive action. Crystal Bevan reports.  > Listen to podcast.

FEDERAL SHADOW MINISTER for the Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler recently spoke alongside Federal member for Monaro Mike Kelly about ways that we can transition from reliance on fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

A focus for the Shadow Minister was on transport in Australia, and how a switch to electric vehicles is important for cutting down on pollution and meeting our emissions targets.

According to the Climate Council transport pollution makes up 20% of Australia’s emissions and that more people died every year as a result of air pollution from transport than the national road toll.

“We need policies [for electric vehicles]. We’re just nowhere because we’ve got a government that cannot admit the idea that the car industry will move beyond petrol and diesel engines,” says Butler.

Australia’s vehicle fleet: dumping ground for international car makers

Butler went on to elaborate about Australia’s vehicle fleet being the dirtiest in the developed world. “We’re the only developed country that doesn’t have pollution standards on our cars. [Car] companies are able to sell versions of their global platform that legally they wouldn’t be able to sell in the US, the UK, Canada, Europe, Japan and very soon China.”

Labor has set a target for 50% of new cars sold to be electric by 2030, in a bid to cut down on transport emissions and get Australians behind the wheel of electric vehicles. Federal Labor also announced that their electric vehicle policy includes $100 million to be used for charging stations.


At the forum, Butler also discussed the need for policies that limit pollution from the land sector, mentioning that Queensland’s heavy clearing before Peter Beattie passed legislation  in 2004, caused a quarter of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“A Commonwealth Labor government will exercise Commonwealth power because this now directly impacts on our international obligations around our climate change agreement. In 200 years we’ve cleared two thirds of this continent. At some point you have to say, ‘enough is enough’.”

Health policy

Along with cutting pollution in key areas including industry, land and transport, a focus for Labor is a health and climate policy. The Shadow Minister talked of a commitment to work with the Climate Health Alliance to develop policy with a range of other health groups.

“Given that we live in a continent which already pushes us right up against the limits of human tolerance, why we’re not talking about climate from a health perspective constantly amazes me.”

Kelly talks about Snowy Hydro 2.0

Federal member for Monaro Mike Kelly spoke about the Snowy 2.0 project, its challenges and benefits as well as how it would provide renewable energy on a large scale.

“It’s the quickest and best way, at scale, for the grid, to avoid catastrophic climate change which would devastate the alpine region. People talk about battery technology which is getting refined and we’ve got a policy to back that, but when we’re talking about grid-scale stuff there will no battery technology that can deliver on this [Snowy 2.0] scale.”

Kelly also mentioned that for economic viability of the project an ambitious target of 60% renewables by 2040 would have to be set, which lines up with the trajectory for renewable energy usage that Labor has committed to with Mark Butler previously mentioning in an interview with the ABC that Federal Labor is aiming for 50% renewables by 2030.

IMAGES: Electric vehicle (Mike Bird, Pexels); Queensland land clearing (sunshinecoastbirds.blogspot); Snowy Hydro 2.0 (promotional video image capture).

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