LEAN has three key areas in which the Labor Party's National Policy Platform needs to improve.
- INDEPENDENT ENVIRONMENT INSITUTIONS – an independent EPA and National Environment Commission
- DELIVERING OUR EMISSIONS TARGETS - ending logging and land clearing.
The current 2021 National Platform is available here. Chapter 3, Climate Change, Energy and Environment, page 37.
Gas is a fossil fuel that creates dangerous climate change. The current platform (particularly Chapter 3, paragraph 34) does not reflect the science of climate change or Labor’s commitment to addressing it.
LEAN recognises gas will play a part in firming renewable energy, this will a small part of our energy mix. We do not need new gas fields to deliver the gas we need to firm up renewables and support industry. We need to assist households and industry to switch to electricity, powered by renewables.
Rather than talking up gas, the platform should:
- recognise gas is a major contributor to global warming
- commit Labor to transitioning away from gas
- state that Labor does not support new gas fields or associated infrastructure
- acknowledge that the best way to bring down energy prices is to supercharge the deployment of renewable energy, freeing us from the price and supply volatility associated with gas.
- commit Labor to supporting switching households and industry off gas and onto clean electricity. This addresses cost of living and emissions simultaneously.
An independent Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and National Environment Commission
LEAN members have campaigned since 2015 to deliver the reforms that Minister Plibersek will announce before Christmas. This is exciting and will provide the best hope in over 20 years of turning around the catastrophic state of the environment!
Essential to our advocacy of many years is the centrality of strong, independent institutions to ensure the laws are enforced and are able to keep standing up for the environment even when regressive governments are in power. Environmental law reform will fail unless we build strong, respected and independent institutions that Australians trust to ensure the laws are delivered and to be an expert voice on policy.
We need an independent Environment Protection Agency, as recommended by the OECD’s best practice for regulation. What’s more, Labor has put the independent Climate Change Authority in the centre of our approach to addressing climate change, we need a National Environment Commission to do the same to deliver our commitment to ending the extinctions.
We are not currently proposing specific words on these issues as the Minister is set to make announcements in December 2022. But please flag the importance of the National Environment Commission in any interactions with the National Policy Forum.
Delivering our emissions targets - ending native forest logging and clearing
Australia has one of the worst rates of forest and woodland destruction on the planet. We are one of only 17 megadiverse countries on the planet and yet we are also the only developed country in the top ten deforesting countries.
Fundamentally there are two sources of greenhouse gas – energy use and land use. If we are to have any chance of meeting our 43% emission reduction target and net zero by 2050, we must halt logging of native forests and land clearing of agricultural land. This will deliver for wildlife, agricultural sustainability and the climate.
At the Glasgow Climate meeting last year Australia signed the Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which commits us to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.” This should be reflected in the Platform as should a commitment to end native forest logging.