Labor and Coalition Lock Horns Over Australia’s 2030 Carbon Emission Targets

The Coalition wants to abolish Australia’s current 2030 carbon emission targets, while Labor is pushing ahead with its net zero emission strategy.
Labor and Coalition Lock Horns Over Australia’s 2030 Carbon Emission Targets
Electricity lines near emission funnels for the Bayswater coal-powered thermal power station in Muswellbrook, Australia, on Dec. 13, 2023. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)
Alfred Bui

The Labor government and Coalition have got into a heated debate over Australia’s carbon emission targets for 2030.

Last week, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton revealed that the Coalition wanted to abolish the Labor government’s target to reduce emissions by 43 percent from 2005 levels by the end of this decade if it won the next federal election.

Mr. Dutton said Labor was unlikely to achieve its target while stating the potential impacts of Labor’s decarbonisation plan on the economy.

“We’re not going to destroy agriculture. We’re not going to stifle investment,” he told The Weekend Australian.

“We’re already seeing investment being withdrawn. We’re not going to create sovereign risk with our export partners, as Labor is doing with Japan and Korea.”

Nevertheless, the opposition leader was committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

He also reiterated his support for nuclear energy becoming part of Australia’s energy mix while promoting the significant role of gas in the transition to net zero emissions.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese criticised Mr. Dutton’s intention to scrap the 43 percent emission target, saying he was walking away from climate action.

“His decision to abandon the 2030 target means him walking away from the Paris Accord. If you walk away from the Paris Accord, you'll be standing with Libya, Yemen, and Iran, and against all of our major trading partners and all of our important allies,” he told reporters.

At the same time, Mr. Albanese claimed that the Coalition lacked a clear policy for the net zero transition.

“For ten years, they had 22 policies and didn’t land one. We’ve had one policy, [and] we landed it: a 2030 target of 43 percent, [and] net zero by 2050. Both of them legislated,” he said.

However, Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie rejected Mr. Albanese’s claim, stating the Coalition had a clear stance on the issue.

“We’re interested in a credible pathway to get there, one where we don’t see jobs go offshore because of high energy prices, and one where we actually get emissions down,” she said.

“The Labor Party and the teals’ plan has not reduced emissions by one iota in two years of them being in power.”

Energy Minister Is Confident about Achieving 2030 Emission Targets

In an interview with ABC Radio on June 11, Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen was confident that Labor government would achieve its 2030 emission targets.

The minister cited the latest forecast, which showed that Australia was on track for a 42 percent emission reduction, and said the 43 percent target was within reach.

Mr. Bowen also noted that some policies that had been introduced by the Labor government would get Australia to 43 percent, including the National Reconstruction Fund, the renewable energy rollout, and a new vehicle efficiency standard.

“These are all the sorts of things which mean that we can say with quite a degree of confidence ... that we will achieve our 2030 target,” he said.

While there is no penalty for breaching the Paris climate change targets, the minister stressed the importance of reaching its decarbonisation goals.

“It’s partly about Paris, of course, and it’s partly about emissions reduction,” Mr. Bowen said. “And it’s partly about seizing the opportunities for Australia as a renewable energy superpower.”

Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne and focuses on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and has two master’s degrees in business and business law. Contact him at [email protected].