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National Platform - strong on climate change and environment protection

The draft ALP National Platform, released ahead of the ALP National Conference on July 24-26, 2015 is strong on climate action and the environment. Both are addressed throughout the platform and across portfolios. LEAN however will still be agitating from the Conference floor for the inclusion of strong, credible targets for renewable energy and carbon pollution reduction. 

 

The final draft platform is available here

LEAN is particularly pleased to see that the Platform commits Labor to policy that ensures Australia contributes fairly to keeping global warming to less than two degrees. Furthermore it acknowledges the advice of the International Panel on Climate Change that the 2 degree target requires advanced economies to approach zero net emissions by mid century [4.15]

At Labor’s National Conference, in accordance with the motion which has received support from over 350 local Labor branches and other party units,  LEAN will be seeking to have this recognition reinforced with commitments to the emission reduction targets recommended by the Climate Change Authority established by Labor: 30% on 2000 levels by 2025, and 40-60% by 2030.

Furthermore LEAN will be seeking to include a commitment to sourcing 50% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

LEAN is also very pleased to see the draft Platform commit that 

  • Labor will put climate change at the heart of our commitment to deliver jobs, innovation and investment to build a prosperous, safe and fair Australia [4.16]. This reflects closely one of the commitments called for in LEAN’s 50/50 climate motion

Following is the LONG list of the many places climate change and the environment are recognised throughout the 2015 Draft National Platform

Chapter 1, Labor's enduring values

Protecting the environment and acting on climate are recognised among Labor’s enduring values in Labor’s 2015 draft Platform [1.46].

Chapter 2, A strong economy for all Australians

  • Transition to clean energy is recognised as a key challenge, as early as paragraph 1 of the economics chapter (chapter 2) – as well as in the environment chapter, chapter 4 (more detail on that below).
  • Climate change is recognised as a significant risk to economic growth [2.1]. 

Trade and environment

The draft Platform picks up concerns that trade agreements negotiated in secret should not reduce environmental protections or prevent sovereign governments including Australia from acting to protect environmental values (or other important Labor values like public health and labour standards):

  • Trade agreements must provide for appropriate minimum and enforceable labour and environmental standards [2.42]
  • Labor will ensure Australians are informed about trade negotiations [2.45]
  • Labor does not support the inclusion of provisions in trade agreements that confer greater legal rights on foreign businesses not available to domestic businesses [2.49]
  • Labor does not support provisions constraining non-discriminatory governmental  action on environmental matters such as Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses [2.49].

Science and research

The strong focus in the draft Platform on science and innovation includes recognition of the crucial role of supporting science and innovation (not slashing them like the Abbott government) in protecting the environment and moving to a clean energy future:  

  • Australia’s fragile ecosystems demand that we invest in science and research to underpin our future wellbeing [2.6]
  • Governments, industry and research institutions should work together to make transition to a clean energy future [2.80]
  • Australian research efforts should reflect imperatives and opportunities of climate change [2.120]

Manufacturing

  • Labor’s commitment to a continued and transformed automotive industry for Australia notes that potential includes roles with new battery technologies, electric vehicles and alternative fuels [2.95]

Chapter 3, Building Australia’s future

Climate and environment issues are recognised at multiple points in chapter 3 of Labor’s draft national Platform on Building Australia’s Future.  In particular, challenges to agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, cities and communities  from climate change are recognised [3.11].

Agriculture and fisheries

  • Agriculture and fisheries need to be supported in adapting to climate change [3.7] (and see too the points on agriculture and land in the environment chapter)

Infrastructure

  • New and existing infrastructure will need to deal with challenges from extreme weather events and sea level rise [3.11]

Cities

  • Labor will partner with all levels of government, the private sector and community to address climate change issues for cities [3.71]
  • Labor supports policies to reduce per capita environment impacts of cities including efficient building design, public transport [3.73]

Regional Australia

  • Labor will ensure regional Australia is an essential part of the solution to climate change [3.85] (So, no Tory “wind farm commissioner” to pursue manufactured syndromes, and persecute regional industry and throttle employment opportunities, then …)

Local government

  • Labor’s draft national platform recognises the role of local government in climate change responses, coastal, waste and energy management , and water efficiency [3.89] and commits Federal Labor to work with local government on these issues [3.92]

Transport

  • Labor’s draft national  platform recognises the need to reduce transport related carbon emissions [3.125]
  • Labor supports policies to recognise the relatively low emissions of sea and rail freight, and public transport [3.125]
  • The environment chapter of the draft platform also states that Labor will introduce upgraded national vehicle emission standards [4.32]

 Northern Australia

  • Labor draft platform recognises the unique environments of Northern Australia, and the vulnerability of Northern Australia to climate change [3.129]

Tourism

  • Labor’s draft platform on tourism commits to addressing the  threat of climate change to Australia’s natural assets and to promoting sustainable tourism [3.133]

Uranium

LEAN is very pleased to see that Labor’s draft national  platform maintains the protections from the 2011 National Platform on uranium [3.134 – 141].

Chapter 8, A health system for all

The Health chapter of Labor’s draft platform recognises the science and expert evidence that climate change will have an impact on health outcomes and that this is already becoming evident in Australia  [8.20]. (We look forward to more detailed policy commitments flowing from this recognition in due course, leading up to an election and in government and in co-operation with State governments.)

Chapter 10, Strong democracy and effective government

This Chapter of Labor’s draft platform contains several important environmental commitments which should be expected to serve as the basis for further policy development including in government:

  • Government agencies will be required to consider all direct and indirect benefits and costs in procurement decisions, including environmental benefits and costs [10.22]
  • The Australian Public Service should be a leader in environmental best practice [10.39].

Chapter 11, Australia's place in a changing world

Climate diplomacy

This chapter of Labor’s draft National Platform recognises that Australia has become increasingly isolated on important international issues including climate change [11.4]. The Environment chapter of the draft Platform commits Labor to resuming a constructive contribution in international cooperation on climate change.

Climate and environment and security

Labor’s draft Platform recognises that

  • Climate change poses serious threats to the security and prosperity of Australia and our neighbours [11.11]
  • Protecting the global environment is a vital foreign policy objective, as environmental degradation contributes to social and political conflict and undermines regional and international security [4.91]

Environmental responsibility and Australian companies overseas

The draft Platform states that Labor will ensure the operations of Australian companies operating overseas do not inflict unacceptable impacts on local communities and the environment [11.27]

Climate and sustainability in Australia’s aid program

The draft Platform states Labor’s commitment to addressing issues around climate change and sustainable agriculture, forest and fisheries management through Australia's aid program, acknowledging the significant impact of climate change and environmental sustainability on exacerbating poverty and inequality [11.64]

In particular the draft Platform commits Labor to work with our Pacific partners to prepare for the impacts of climate change [11.68, 4.90].

International climate finance

The draft Platform restates Labor’s commitment to ensuring Australia’s continued commitment to international climate finance, in line with the shared international goal of mobilising public and private funds to assist vulnerable communities address climate change [4.97].

Emergency response

The draft Platform recognises that climate change is causing an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters affecting Australia, and states that Labor will review our emergency response capacity and work with the states to ensure capacity meets increasing demand [11.100].

Energy efficiency and renewable energy in Defence

The draft Platform notes that Labor, in common with Australia’s allies including the United States and the United Kingdom, recognises that greater energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy sources throughout defence organisations and operations is necessary for sustaining effective and independent defence capability. The reduction of the overall carbon footprint and the development of alternative energy sources contribute to the concurrent aims of addressing the risks of climate change while enhancing energy security and self-sufficiency [11.133]

Chapter 4, Tackling climate change and our environmental challenges

As can be seen, there is strong recognition of climate and environment issues across many areas of Labor’s draft Platform. Of course, many key commitments and statements are contained in the specific chapter on the environment and a clean energy future for Australia (chapter 4).

Climate change at the heart of Labor commitments

LEAN is very pleased to see the commitment in the draft Platform that

Labor will put climate change at the heart of our commitment to deliver jobs, innovation and investment to build a prosperous, safe and fair Australia [4.16].

Climate change threatens Australia’s way of life

The draft Platform recognises that

  • Climate change threatens our water security, coastal development, infrastructure, agriculture and health [4.1]
  • As a hot, dry continent Aust has more to lose than other developed countries [4.1]

Labor is committed to the international 2oC goal and doing Australia’s fair share

The draft Platform confirms that Labor is committed to the internationally agreed goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels [4.15]. Above this level the consequences of climate change (including for Australia and its people) clearly go from difficult to disastrous. (By contrast, Tony Abbott’s government has begun leaving out even mentioning the 2 degree goal in policy documents).

Labor recognises this means approaching net zero emissions by mid-century

LEAN is very pleased to see Labor’s draft Platform expressly recognise the advice of the International Panel on Climate Change that the 2 degree target requires advanced economies to approach zero net emissions by mid century [4.15].

Real climate action is essential for Australia’s future prosperity

The draft Platform recognises that effective climate change action is critical to Australia’s growth and prosperity for future decades [4.13]. Labor will transform the Australian economy to secure its growth over coming decades [4.4].

Delaying effective climate action will be more costly than acting now

The draft Platform recognises that

  • The environmental consequences of climate change translate directly into economic costs [4.1].
  • The longer we delay action, the harder and more expensive change will be  [4.1].

The world is moving and Australia needs to move too

  • The draft Platform notes that the world’s biggest economies are all acting to reduce carbon pollution and invest in clean technologies [4.1].
  • Accordingly, the draft Platform commits that Labor will ensure that Australia works co-operatively with our trading partners in moving to a clean energy future [4.4].
  • The draft Platform also confirms that Labor will re-establish Australia as a cooperative and engaged participant in international efforts to address climate change [4.89].

Australia needs a cap on carbon pollution, and needs support for renewable energy

The draft Platform confirms the view of economists and other experts that (rather than the Coalition’s ridiculous, expensive and ineffective “Direct Action” policy of paying polluters from a slush fund with a fancy name):

  • the cheapest way to address climate change is to put a legal cap on pollution, accompanied by market mechanisms to allow business to work out how best to work within the cap [4.2]
  • there also needs to be strong support for renewable energy and generation [4.3], and policies for different sectors, such as transport, electricity and the agriculture and land sector [4.18].

The draft Platform confirms that Labor will introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme that puts a legal limit on carbon pollution , reducing over time in accordance with Australia’s international commitments [4.16].

Land sector

The draft Platform commits Labor to work with the land sector and other stakeholders to store millions of tonnes of carbon in the land through better land and waste management [4.16].

Clean energy commitments

The draft Platform commits that Labor will

  • Develop a comprehensive plan to progressively decarbonise Australia’s energy sector [4.16]
  • work to undo the damage that the Coalition Government has done to the renewable energy sector, and be ambitious in growing the renewable energy sector beyond 2020 [4.16]
  • support the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency [4.25]
  • return Australia to its position as one of the most attractive countries to invest in clean energy [4.89].

LEAN strongly welcomes these commitments.

Just transitions to a clean energy economy

The draft national Platform recognises that the transition to clean energy economy carries opportunities as well as uncertainties for workers and communities, and commits that Labor will

  • pursue the opportunities and address the uncertainties [4.3]
  • ensure that jobs in the clean economy provide security, decent wages and conditions [4.3]
  • focus policies to support industry and jobs on regional workers and communities at the front line of the transition to clean energy economy [4.21]

The draft Platform

  • recognises that growing diverse regional economies is essential to make the transition to a clean energy economy, and ensure a just transition [4.22]
  • support high carbon emitting industries to become more energy efficient and reduce emissions [4.27]
  • commits to making training and skills programs for workers for energy efficient technologies and transition to new, clean energy or low pollution industries [4.28].

Restoring environment and climate institutions

The draft Platform commits that Labor will

  • Restore integrity, independence and capacity to the environment and climate change portfolios and relevant science agencies [4.16]
  • restore a robust and independent Climate Change Authority [4.26]

National leadership on climate adaptation for communities is needed now

The draft Platform

  • recognises that parts of Australia are feeling the impact of climate change now
  • recognises that helping communities adapt to a changing climate is essential [4.29]
  • commits Labor to working with state and territories and local councils and community organisations to identify and address their vulnerability to climate change [4.30].

Broader environmental issues

The draft Platform also recognises that broader environmental issues and protection remain critical to Aust future [4.4]

Because of the amount of content in the draft Platform on broader environmental issues we'll just present these dot points here:

  • Labor recognises and supports the passion of local environment conservation groups and the invaluable contribution they make [4.9]
  • Protecting Australia’s rich biodiversity is essential to our nation’s environmental protection [4.10]
  • Labor will deliver a robust and integrated system of environmental management. Labor will develop improved environmental law [4.11]
  • Labor ackowledges the guidance and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in preserving Australia’s environment [4.12]. The draft Platform contains a list of practical measures [at 4.49] recognising indigenous peoples knowledge and work key to environmentally and socially sustainable Australia
  • Labor opposes handing approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act to state and territory governments [4.33]
  • Labor will develop new frameworks for truly national protection and management of Australia’s natural resources [4.34]
  • Labor will consider a climate change trigger in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act [4.35]
  • Labor will ensure a full and independent EIS for any development near world heritage areas, Ramsar wetlands or other areas covered by treaty [4.36]
  • Labor supports investigation of further areas for world heritage protection [4.38]
  • Labor will work with traditional owners and the Queensland govt to consider world heritage listing of areas of Cape York [4.39]
  • Labor opposes mining and resource extraction from world heritage areas [4.40]
  • Labor recognises that the Great Barrier Reef supports tens of thousands of jobs, is enjoyed by millions, and depends on decisions now by government, industry and communities [4.42]
  • Labor will fight for the Great Barrier Reef by addressing climate change, water quality, environmental laws and biodiversity protection [4.43]
  • Labor will protect biodiversity through a comprehensive national system of parks and reserves, and through education, regulation and incentives for sustainable use elsewhere [4.44]
  • Labor will prevent clearing that will have significant impact on threatened species and critical habitats [4.45]
  • Labor will support local and state conservation councils and Environmental Defenders Offices [4.46]
  • Labor will work with states, territories, and landholders to increase Australia’s vegetation cover, and end broad scale clearing, inc through funding conditions on grants [4.47]
  • Labor will support the advocacy and action of non-government and community organisations to protect our environment and heritage [4.53]
  • Labor will coordinate a national approach to waste including waste reduction and recycling [4.55]
  • Labor will improve air quality, particularly by promoting national air quality standards and monitoring and reporting [4.58]
  • Labor will take action to ensure coal seam gas extraction is sustainable science based and safe [4.60]
  • Labor will encourage greater efficiency in use of energy as well as pursuing renewable energy opportunities [4.64-5]
  • Labor will protect household consumers in new national energy environment [4.67]
  • Labor recognises threats to agriculture form climate change and land degradation [4.68-72]
  • Labor supports Landcare and uptake of sustainable farming practices including biodiverse revegetation [4.72]
  • Labor recognises that climate change will exacerbate problems of Australian river systems; Labor supports the Murray-Darling Basin plan and will address long term over allocation of water resources [4.75]
  • Labor will support urban water security and efficiency initiatives [4.83]

 

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