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The Australian reports on LEAN's campaign

ALP rank and file stir revolt on climate policy

  • THE AUSTRALIAN
  • JULY 10, 2015 12:00AM
  • By Troy Bramston, Senior Writer

Labor faces a rank-and-file revolt over climate change policy, with 352 local party forums endorsing bold targets to reduce carbon emissions and support renewable energy ahead of the party’s national conference in a fortnight.

About one-third of local branches have backed the Labor Environment Action Network’s campaign to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2025 on 2000 levels, and by up to 60 per cent by 2030. LEAN also supports a policy target of at least 50 per cent of power generation from renewable sources by 2030.

Felicity Wade, national co-convener of LEAN, told The Australian that Labor Party members cannot be ignored.

“LEAN volunteers have gone out night after night and visited the draughty halls of party branch meetings talking about climate change,” she said.

“At a conference discussing reform to empower rank and file, can the party afford to ignore such an unequivocal message from its membership?”

Labor’s draft platform supports “limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees” and notes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests this requires countries such as Australia “to approach net zero emissions by mid-century”.

But LEAN wants the party to go further and adopt the Climate Change Authority’s reduction targets. The party’s proposed new platform has scrapped existing commitments of a 5 per cent reduction target by 2020 on 2000 levels, and 80 per cent by 2050, with interim targets.

The new platform advocates an emissions trading scheme that imposes a limit on pollution, with businesses to decide how to operate within that cap. LEAN backs an ETS as just one tool in a suite of measures to tackle climate change.

“LEAN is supportive of an ETS but imagines smart climate policy for this decade will include a mix of measures including regulation, incentives and industry development programs,” Ms Wade said.

LEAN also wants Labor to combine the energy and climate change portfolios in government. “To manage transitioning the energy sector while keeping costs down for consumers we need to remove the contradictory outcomes of these being competing ministries,” Ms Wade said.

LEAN is the most organised internal party group and will have significant support at the conference. It expects delegates from 27 NSW federal electorate councils that have endorsed LEAN’s position to vote that way at conference.

State conferences in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania have adopted LEAN’s ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets.

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