Labor split over Fitzgibbon’s climate warning
JOURNALIST Greg Brown
5:07PM JUNE 2, 2020
A warning by Joel Fitzgibbon that Labor will lose the next election if it adopts more ambitious climate change policies than the Coalition has reignited divisions in the party, as the organisation’s environmental lobby declares the frontbencher is “plain wrong”.
Mr Fitzgibbon, the opposition’s agriculture and resources spokesman, used the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night to renew his controversial call for Labor to adopt the Coalition’s 2030 Paris targets, declaring a bipartisan “settlement” was needed on the issue.
“We’ve had a number of elections where the Labor Party has attempted to sell a more meaningful climate change policy to the electorate, and we’ve lost,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“We can keep losing and remain in opposition. And guess how much you get to do on climate change policy if you are perpetually in opposition? Zero.”
Labor Environment Action Network co-convener Felicity Wade said ambitious climate change policies were central to the support of hundreds of thousands of ALP supporters.
She referenced a study by the Australian National University, which described former leader Bill Shorten’s climate change policies as a vote winner for Labor in the 2019 election.
“Some of our other policies were more problematic,” Ms Wade said.
“To suggest Labor’s climate change ambition is responsible for its losses in recent elections is plain wrong.
“For hundreds of thousands of voters climate policy is central to their continued faith in us. “The terrible bushfires of last summer has only reinforced the view of many Australians that we must act to arrest climate change.”
LEAN was a driving force behind Labor adopting targets of 45 per cent emissions reduction and 50 per cent renewables by 2030 before the last poll.
However, Ms Wade conceded Mr Fitzgibbon was correct about Labor often getting the language about climate change wrong.
“Where Joel is right is that climate change policy has too often focused on the technocratic — targets, economic instruments, things that sound like mumbo-jumbo,” Ms Wade said.
“Our challenge is to develop policies that are grounded in outcomes people can see and touch.”
The Coalition’s 2030 target is to lower emissions by 26-28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.
Opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler said the Coalition’s target was “fundamentally inconsistent with the Paris agreement” and would lead to catastrophic global warming of 3C.
“Labor’s commitment to action on climate change is unshakeable. We have a 2050 target of net zero emissions and will have medium-term targets which are consistent with the agreement,” Mr Butler told The Australian.
“Joel has always stood for taking strong action on climate change. Labor stands for taking serious action on climate change.
“Joel was making the point, as he as many times, that the Liberals have played politics with this issue for a decade and that has been very challenging.”