Australia: Labor ‘aspiring’ to 50% renewables

Renewable energy is the best alternative for countries looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and ameliorate the rapid rise of global warming. Australia is one of the countries aspiring to a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, Labor says. In addition the party’s national conference has agreed to a policy platform including application of carbon emission standards on motor vehicles.

“Labor will take a 50% goal for renewable energy by 2030 to the election … because we know renewable energy will be a central part, not just of Australia’s energy system, but of our industrial and jobs base as well,” opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler said.

Climate action groups rallied in support as a motion to increase the target was passed by delegates at the ALP national conference in Melbourne on Saturday.

Around 300 people armed with banners, placards and solar panels showed their support for the increased renewable energy target, but said they must also target a 60-80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 as well.

“There is a clean, renewable power move under way and yet here in Australia we are missing out on its benefits. All political parties in Australia need to step up,” Wilderness Society campaigner Amelia Young told the crowds.

Mr Butler promised there would be action to reduce carbon pollution.

“Labor will take an emissions trading scheme to the 2016 election, because we know that a legal cap on carbon pollution that reduces over time in accordance with our international commitments is the only serious way to deal with carbon emissions,” he said.

He also stated, “This platform includes, for the first time, vehicle emissions standards to start to clean up our transport sector. Global car companies are now selling dirtier versions of their global brands in Australia than are sold in the United States, in Canada, in Europe, because we don’t have those standards. That will change under a Labor Government.”

A further motion, moved by Bill Shorten, called for a future Labor government to bring the climate change and electricity portfolios together into one ministry.

The government would work with unions and industry to minimize any cost impact from the emissions trading scheme to households and business.

It would also ensure any power plant closures or scale-backs are managed properly, including the retraining or redeployment of workers and help for affected communities as they adjust to changes.

Mr Shorten said the resolution was based on an economic and environmental program for Australia’s future.

“The rest of the world recognises the role of renewable energy but it falls to this party, I believe, to win the debate in Australian politics about our energy mix,” he said.

“By putting this proposition forward in the community, by working with the community, we will restore confidence and renewable energy investment.”

A motion, moved by Tasmanian federal MP Julie Collins, also commits a Labor government to protecting Australian waters from super trawlers and overfishing by stopping them operating unless a scientific assessment ensuring small fisheries and recreational fishing will not be undermined has been carried out.

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“We need proper science, we need to understand the impact of super trawlers before they’re allowed operate in Australian waters, not after,” she said.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Labor’s policy was reintroducing a carbon tax which “will result in a huge electricity tax spike”.

He also said Shorten was aligning himself with emission reduction targets for the 2025 to 2030 period recommended by the Climate Change Authority.

“Labor must immediately reveal their analysis on the costs of this proposed target. The Climate Change Authority has not released any economic analysis of the costs this target will impose on Australians,” he said in a statement.

Based on REN21’s 2014 report, renewable energy contributed 19% to our global energy consumption and 22% to our electricity generation in 2012 and 2013, respectively. This energy consumption is divided as 9% coming from traditional biomass, 4.2% as heat energy (non-biomass), 3.8% hydro electricity and 2% is electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$214 billion in 2013, with countries like China and the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and bio-fuels.

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