2022 Federal Election: Climate Scorecard


The federal election is on May 21, so the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has taken a closer look at where the parties stand on climate justice. We need all political parties to tackle the climate crisis in line with the best science, commit to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and net zero emission by 2035. All political parties need a plan to phase out coal, oil and gas and end public subsidies to fossil fuels.


What does “tackle climate change in line with the best science” mean?

The best science tells us that we need to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2035. This could be achieved through a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy, a phase out of all existing fossil fuels, a ban on new coal, oil and gas projects, and investment in the infrastructure, skills and training needed for a renewable economy [1]. 

Australia is one of the world’s biggest emitters of carbon. Burning and exporting coal and gas is driving the climate crisis and we’re already seeing the impacts from catastrophic bushfires to severe flooding. But Australia is one of the windiest and sunniest places in the world, with huge potential for massive renewable energy projects and investment in climate solutions [2]. 

It is also clear that First Nations land justice must be at the centre of any effective climate policy. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on the frontlines of climate impacts, but are also leaders in climate justice and climate solutions. From Tishiko King, a proud Kulkalaig woman from the Island of Masig, Kulkalgal Nation of Zenadth Kes, and Campaigns Director at Seed:

“I do have a vision for the future where systems of injustice are torn down, and sustainable and community-led solutions can rise up to their place, that there will be effective policies of systemic change. ...Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must have that seat at the table. It must be place-based, it must be deliberative, and culturally safe. Our involvement must be sincere, and in order to achieve real First Nations justice, I think we need to be able to lead that space. This extends to respecting our sacred sites and ensuring more First Nations voices to Parliament. It means reconciliation. It means Treaty [3].”


How the parties stack up and how we’ve decided on rankings:

The Greens

Tackle climate change in line with the best science

What we ranked them : A

Why: The Greens have a comprehensive and ambitious set of climate policies, including big investments in renewable energy, a fair but rapid transition away from fossil fuels, and a Treaty process and stronger First Nations’ cultural heritage laws [4]. Their emissions reduction targets are in line with the recommendations of top climate scientists.


100% renewable energy by 2030

What we ranked them : A

Why: The Greens are committed to reaching 100% renewable energy by 2030, through targeted initiatives such as increasing the renewable energy target (RET), increasing public investment, and changing feed-in tariffs and regulations to support a range of renewable energy generation, storage, transmission networks, efficiency, and export technologies. The Greens also back the creation of a renewables export industry, including renewables-generated liquid fuels, direct connections to neighbouring countries and the export of renewables technology [5].


Reducing emissions to net zero by 2035

What we ranked them : A

Why: The Greens have committed to reach net zero or net negative emissions by 2035 or earlier, and have the policies to back this commitment up. Alongside strong investment in renewables, the Greens have committed to immediately ban construction of new coal, oil and gas infrastructure, phase out thermal coal use and exports by 2030, and support green industries and exports that will drive a climate friendly manufacturing industry [6].


No public money for gas

What we ranked them : A

Why: The Greens are committed to ending subsidies to gas corporations and reinvesting that money into clean energy [7].


Labor

Tackle climate change in line with the best science

What we ranked them: C

Why: Overall, Labor has some good building blocks of climate policy, like investment in community owned renewables, but they don’t have the ambition we need to tackle climate change [8]. To up their grade, Labor should up their emissions reduction targets, expand their renewable energy projects, create a plan for a fair transition away from fossil fuels, and strengthen cultural heritage laws to ensure Traditional Owners have free, prior and informed consent for all projects on their country .


100% renewable energy by 2030

What we ranked them: B

Why: Labor is committed to 82% renewable energy by 2030 [9]. This is close to 100%, but isn’t quite good enough. It’s great to see that they’re investing in solar banks and community owned renewables; if they could scale these projects up and invest in additional renewable capacity, they’d be getting an A.


Reduce emissions to net zero by 2035

What we ranked them: C

Why: Labor has said they’ll reduce emission by 43% by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050 [10]. Labor’s plan gets us to net zero 15 years too late, and they don’t have a clear plan to transition our energy away from fossil fuels. To avoid the worst climate impacts and do our bit as a country, Australia needs to reduce its emissions by 75% by 2030, and reach net zero by 2035.


No public money for gas

What we ranked them: D

Why: Labor hasn’t committed to any new public money for gas, but doesn't have a clear plan to phase out gas subsidies. They’re National Platform supports new gas projects and associated infrastructure to keep gas in Australian households [11]. Labor needs to commit to phasing out all gas subsidies, and invest in renewable infrastructure that gets us beyond gas.


The Liberals

Tackle climate change in line with the best science

What we ranked them: F

Why: Despite having a net zero by 2050 target, the Liberals are not on track to reach net zero and are giving millions of dollars to climate wrecking fossil fuel projects [12]. Over the long term, the Liberals have committed $55.3 billion to subsidising gas and oil extraction, coal-fired power, and coal railways, and other fossil fuel associated projects [13]. Projections show that these projects will see emissions rise, rather than fall, under a Liberal government in the coming years.


100% renewable energy by 2030

What we ranked them: D

Why: The Liberals have some limited investment in renewables projects, such as funding for critical minerals involved in renewables production, and microgrids for regional communities [14]. However, their most recent budget outlines a 35% drop in climate spending over the coming years, which is likely to impact investor confidence in Australian renewable energy projects [15].


Reducing emissions to net zero by 2035

What we ranked them: D

Why: The Liberals are committed to a 26-28% emissions reduction by 2030, and net zero by 2050 [16]. However, their targets are too late and they do not include a plan for transitioning away from fossil fuels [17]. The Liberals net zero plan relies heavily on unproven technology like carbon capture and storage and as yet to be developed technology [18].


No public money for gas

What we ranked them: F

Why: The Liberals have poured millions in public money to gas projects over recent years, including to projects that have no free, prior and informed consent from Traditional Owners [19]. The Liberals have committed $55.3 billion to subsidising gas and oil extraction, coal-fired power, and coal railways, and other fossil fuel associated projects [20].


United Australia Party

Tackle climate change in line with the best science

What we ranked them: F

Why: The UAP has no clear policies on climate change [21]. Party Leader, Clive Palmer also has a stake in major coal mines under Waratah Coal. Waratah Coal is pushing for a coal mine in the Galilee Basin which has been challenged in court by young people and First Nations leaders on its climate and human rights impacts [22].


100% renewable energy by 2030

What we ranked them: F

Why: The UAP has no policies to support increased renewable energy, improve our electricity grid, or otherwise shift Australia beyond fossil fuels [23]. Their only energy policies focus on supporting nuclear energy: a non-renewable, slow and expensive to build energy source [24].


Reducing emissions to net zero by 2035

What we ranked them: F

Why: The UAP does not have a target date for Australia to reach net zero emissions [25]. Party leader Clive Palmer wants to see continued development of the Queensland coal industry [26].


No public money for gas

What we ranked them: F

The UAP has no policies on whether to give public money to gas corporations [27], but supports the ongoing expansion of the fossil fuel industry and party Leader Craig Kelly has actively encouraged people living in Australia to burn as much fossil fuels as possible [28, 29]


References