The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef ecosystem on earth and one of the best known marine areas in the world. The Reef attracts more than two million visitors each year, contributes $5.7 billion to the economy, and supports around 69,000 jobs.
It is a national icon that Australians want to see protected.
The biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef, even according to the Government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, is climate change. Rapidly warming ocean temperatures present a serious threat to coral reefs. To protect them from further bleaching events like this, we need to address climate change.
Labor is committed to taking real action on climate change, unlike the Liberals who have a costly and ineffective policy under which emissions are rising. Labor accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity since the industrial revolution has increased average global temperatures, leading to climate change. We will deliver 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 – taking advantage of the $2.5 trillion of investment in renewable energy in the Asia-Pacific by 2030.
A target of 26-28 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (on 2005 levels) - as proposed by the Abbott-Turnbull Government - would see Australia fall well short of the commitments made by the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and other European nations. It would not help us keep global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius, something our coral reefs desperately need.
That simply isn’t good enough. Labor is committed to reducing pollution by 45 per cent by 2030 and to net zero emissions by 2050. Labor has a clear plan to combat climate change by getting Australia’s pollution levels back under control and ensuring that Australian business and workers are in the best position possible to benefit from the huge investment and job opportunities that come from a renewable energy and clean technology future.
Our Climate Change Action Plan provides a pathway for an orderly transition to a low pollution economy through six key elements:
- Make Australia a Leading Renewable Energy Economy by ensuring that 50 per cent of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030, providing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with more certainty and more flexibility with less red tape and more technology options, and developing new community power projects.
- Cleaner Power Generation ensuring that the transition in Australia’s electricity generation from old heavy polluting coal fired power stations to modern clean energy is an orderly transition, with concrete support for workers and communities.
- Build Jobs and Industry maximising the job opportunities from clean energy and clean technology, while also securing the future of critical Australian industries through a Strategic Industries Taskforce. This will be supported by a Strategic Industries Reserve Fund of $300 million to support the transition of key industries to 2020.
- Cut Pollution through an Emissions Trading Scheme, placing a legal cap on pollution from large polluters through a cap and offsets scheme, while supporting industry by ensuring access to international carbon offsets.
- Capture Carbon on the Land by reinvigorating the Carbon Farming Initiative to encourage carbon storage on the land and in agriculture, and taking decisive action to deal with broad-scale land clearing.
- Increased Energy Efficiency doubling Australia’s national energy productivity by 2030 and implementing new emissions standards for motor vehicles to cut pollution on our roads.
Mr Turnbull and his Liberals are still wedded to Tony Abbott’s widely-ridiculed Direct Action policy, which wastes taxpayer money paying big polluters to keep polluting. The Liberals are spending $2.5 billion of taxpayer money and all they are getting is more pollution. This is the wasteful, inefficient policy Malcolm Turnbull once called:
“a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale” and “an environmental fig leaf to hide a determination to do nothing.”
Labor’s plan will provide the ambitious pathway for an orderly transition to a low pollution economy that Australia – and our coral reefs – need.