CANBERRA, AAP – Anthony Albanese believes Labor can end Australia’s long-running climate policy wars should the opposition win the federal election.
He used an address to the National Press Club to spruik Labor’s climate policy centred on a legislated 43 per cent emissions cut this decade.
“We can, finally, put the climate wars behind us,” Mr Albanese said on Tuesday of Labor’s previously announced plan to get Australia to net zero emissions by mid-century.
He defended waiting until after November’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to release Labor’s climate policy.
“It was appropriate to wait until Glasgow, it was appropriate to see what they put out before we put out ours,” Mr Albanese said.
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He also defended Labor’s refusal to extend the government’s existing safeguard mechanism – designed to oblige entities to avoid excessive emissions – to businesses not already covered by it.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor criticised Labor’s proposal to tighten the safeguard mechanism, put in place by the coalition, as a carbon tax.
“They’ve (Labor) made it very clear that they want to see very significant reductions in emissions that will cost those companies real money and those costs will need to be at least partially or fully passed onto customers,” he told Sky News following Mr Albanese’s speech.
Meanwhile, the opposition leader said his climate plan would not affect the timeline of slated coal power plant closures including Yallourn in Victoria because they were market-driven.
Labor’s 2030 emissions target is less ambitious than its 45 per cent pledge taken to the 2019 election, as well as the cut of between 46 and 50 per cent last year called for by the Business Council of Australia.
“We can change the trajectory so we’re heading towards 43 per cent (emissions) reduction, so we are going to international conferences not being the naughty kids in the corner with Brazil and Saudi Arabia,” Mr Albanese said.
“Australia can bring respect to our position on climate change.”