After years of climate change denial, delay and disinformation, the federal Coalition government is finally adopting a policy of 'net zero by 2050' to reduce greenhouse gas pollution across the nation.
This is the bare minimum in terms of credible climate policy and an improvement on their previous position to clean up Australia's emissions 'sometime before 2100'.
The Coalition needs the goal of NZ2050 to contest the next election and this is also a basic necessity for participation in the global climate talks in Glasgow starting soon.
A majority of nations support the target, as do many corporations including fossil fuel producers such as BHP, Shell, BP and Exxon, and major lobby groups such as the Business Council of Australia.
Yet despite the announcement, the federal Coalition is hopelessly divided.
Contrast with the NSW government which has a climate and energy policy fit for the times, with both parties in agreement on the NZ2050 goal and an interim target to clean up our state 50 per cent by 2030.
The federal Coalition refuses to set a more ambitious 2030 target, proof positive the government is not serious about tackling climate change. The current target is a weak 26 per cent.
Like NSW, the USA is aiming for 50 per cent and the UK will reduce emissions 78 per cent by 2035.
Tasmania has the most ambitious target in the world, with their Liberal government announcing plans to legislate net zero by 2030. Beef farmers are also aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030.
The Morrison-Joyce government must lift the 2030 target to at least 50 per cent cuts in Australia's emissions, because 2030 is an important stepping-stone on the way to 2050. Without this commitment it will be impossible for our country to eliminate almost all emissions by 2050, the task we face. Essential to success is to achieve 100 per cent clean energy with storage by 2030.
Living in a safe National Party electorate, let's be clear about where they stand. For 20 years the Nationals have been blocking action on climate change and they still are.
It is the Nationals who insisted there be no more ambitious 2030 target, despite this being a condition of Australia signing up to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
Australians want an end to the climate wars. The Nationals want to keep them going for political gain, and to satisfy their out-of-date ideology. Their policies are driven by cynical political advantage, not our safety and security, or protecting our quality of life and everyday business.
Regions have most to lose from climate change but have most to gain from the transition to a clean economy.
The Nationals claim they stand for regional Australia. Do they?
We do not live in the coal mining regions that dictate Nationals' policy and the majority of us are not farmers.
Most Nationals constituents are ordinary suburban dwellers who want to live in a safe climate, not one that delivers ever-more serious droughts, heatwaves, bushfires, storms and tornados, high intensity rainfall and flooding, rising sea levels, and the inevitable loss of the Great Barrier Reef.
No Coalition MPs mention these impacts of climate change. Cost is always about dollars and markets, not lives or homes, or the infrastructure we need to defend. Recent experience has shown how vulnerable we are.
The 2018 drought leading to the 2019 mega fires, and then the March 2021 deluge cutting roads, flooding properties and causing millions of dollars in damage and raising insurance premiums. These extreme weather events cost us personally and they will only get worse.
So, the PM is going to Glasgow with little to show. He will be the laughing stock of the rest of the world, from our great and powerful allies the USA and the UK, to the Pacific Island nations who depend on us acting on climate change for their very survival.
We must send a signal, at the ballot box, we want our government to do better.
- Harry Creamer is a spokesperson for Climate Change Hastings