ALP pips Coalition on policy but pollution up and credibility down for both Media Release

Aug 19, 2010 - 11:30am

With just two days until the election, neither major party has delivered a credible plan on pollution and climate change and both have lacked leadership and judgement of Australians’ concern for action, The Climate Institute said today as it delivered its final Pollute-o-meter and Star Rating policy analysis.

“Our analysis puts the ALP ahead of the Coalition on policy but behind on pollution reduction. Both trail the Greens who are the only party with a credible plan on pollution and climate change,” said Climate Institute CEO John Connor.

“What we have witnessed over these past five weeks is a Government frozen with fear in response to the Coalition’s irresponsible and misleading scare campaign on power prices.

“The ALP has suffered a severe dose of power price paranoia, misreading the mood of Australians who don’t see pollution and climate change purely as a cost issue but as bolted onto leadership and the need to shift Australia’s economy to a low pollution footing.

“Both major parties have tragically missed opportunities to improve policy and brand credibility on pollution and climate change, decisions which will have impacts for years to come in fast moving domestic and global pollution politics.”

Polling conducted before and during the campaign continued to show Australians support action on pollution and climate change.

In June Auspoll found that 82% of Australians were concerned that pollution was making climate change worse, a concern shared by 86% of Australians who described themselves as ‘under financial pressure’.

“For its part, the Coalition has displayed rank hypocrisy in its power price scare campaign as it has backed, positively, power price rises to boost renewable energy and it has failed to end uncertainty which generators themselves say could cost the economy and consumers up to $2 billion in higher power prices*,” Mr Connor said.

“And the Coalition’s campaign against a carbon tax defies logic with their Emissions Reduction Fund slugging taxpayers for billions to take responsibility for carbon pollution from businesses who largely skip free of any responsibility under Coalition plans.”

At the Coalition’s Campaign launch, it repeated support for emission reduction targets but left unanswered questions about how it could achieve the minimum 2020 reduction target of 5 per cent below 2000 levels, let alone up to 25 per cent reductions committed internationally.

“The support for any stronger target than 5 per cent rings hollow as the Coalition, with its current plan to withdraw funding for climate support for developing nations and clean energy technology cooperation, is proposing an approach destructive to building global ambition.

“Missed opportunities for policies to substantially improve energy savings and productivity show the extent to which pollution and climate change policy pivoted on power price paranoia.

“It is true that electricity prices are set to rise over the coming decades but this is primarily because of the need to spend on existing and new infrastructure – poles and wires. Strong energy efficiency policies could in fact deliver financial savings to households and businesses worth $5 billion by 2020.

“Apart from welcome but relatively small commitments from the ALP on vehicles and green buildings, neither major party announced substantial energy efficiency policies that could help people manage their bills.”

The ALP’s Carbon Farming Initiative provided a glimmer in the campaign but wasn’t followed by a timeline for an emissions trading scheme so the opportunity to lock in real gains for Australia was lost.

“The ALP could have moved ahead of the Coalition on The Climate Institute’s Pollute-o-Meter measure of potential Australian pollution reduction with decisive policies but let the opportunity slip,” he said.

On The Climate Institute’s Pollute-o-meter analysis, both major parties policies see pollution increasing to 2020, the Coalition by 8% above 1990 levels and the ALP by 19%.  Both major parties miss their minimum emissions reduction targets of 5% and fall embarrassingly short of the up to 25% that both remain committed to internationally.

With stronger investment supporting global ambition and domestic research, the ALP ended ahead of the Coalition on The Climate Institute’s in depth Star Rating assessment with one and a half stars out of five to the Coalition’s half a star.

“The Greens ended as the only party with a credible plan, scoring 4 stars out of five and, with some limited international carbon credits, being able to achieve the 2020 target of 25 per cent reductions off 2000 levels,” he said.

“Without a late surge, time has now run out for both major parties to answer industry and community concerns about the impact of policy uncertainty on energy investment decisions, for bolder energy efficiency policies or to improve their overall plans on pollution and climate change.

“For either party to have a credible plan on pollution and climate change, they needed to put a limit and a price tag on pollution to make businesses take responsibility for their pollution and for greater investment to help make clean energy cheaper.

“Credible plans on pollution and climate change will now depend on international realities, business leadership and action from all Australians as climate citizens, climate consumers and climate investors.

“The last 12 months have shown how quickly things can move in pollution politics, and with community support still strong, whatever the outcome on Saturday both parties will need to improve their policies and their credibility.”

*Delayed Carbon policy certainty and Australian electricity prices.

For further information:

John Connor | CEO,  The Climate Institute |  0413 968 475

Harriet Binet | Communications Director,  The Climate Institute |  (02) 8239 6299 or  0402 588 384

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