Back in August, then-Prime Minister Abbott announced the Coalition government would pursue a 26-28 per cent carbon reduction target (without specifying how it would be achieved), an announcement he described at the time as “economically responsible”.
However, when Labor announced in July a 50 per cent renewable energy target, an emissions trading scheme and murmured darkly about the need for an emissions reduction target in the 40’s, the government opposed it claiming it would increase electricity prices. After Bill Shorten last week formally announced a 45 per cent emissions reduction target, the government described it as either mad or heroic.
So while the Coalition’s almost 30 per cent target is nothing to be concerned about, Labor’s 45 per cent target is apparently entirely unacceptable. If that wasn’t already enough of a stretch, Prime Minister Turnbull’s Monday announcement that the Coalition government’s target might increase made this even worse.
The prime minister has also now announced the doubling of ‘clean energy’ research from $100 million to $200 million over the next five years, and the diversion of $1 billion from the international aid budget towards climate change, up from the $200 million announced last year. (Presumably he hasn’t read Bjørn Lomborg’s work criticising aid substitution here and here). Thankfully, the PM has decided not to sign a new agreement on fossil fuel subsidies, even though Australia doesn’t actually have any.
In July, Turnbull helpfully pointed out that all government measures to reduce emissions, whether by regulation, emissions trading scheme or a renewable energy target, are in fact a tax. While he probably wouldn’t repeat such a statement now, it is probably the clearest contribution to the debate so far.