Shorten pledges to tackle Aussie’s climate change issue

By BLOOMBERG

SYDNEY • Opposition leader Bill Shorten pledged A$10 billion (RM29.4 billion) in extra funding for clean energy and steeper cuts to carbon emissions than the government, as he sought to turn tackling Australia’s climate change “disaster” into a key election issue.

In a speech at a Bloomberg New Energy Finance event in Sydney yesterday, Shorten announced initiatives to boost the use of alternative energy and help meet the Labor party’s goal for 50% of the country’s power to come from renewables by 2030.

“Climate change is no longer an emergency. It’s a disaster,” Shorten said, while criticising a lack of coherent action by the government.

Labor will also target a 45% cut in carbon emissions by 2030, going beyond the existing Paris Agreement goal of a minimum 26% reduction from 2005 levels.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he expects to meet Australia’s Paris targets comfortably. But he has dropped plans to legislate the cuts amid government infighting, which contributed to his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull being ousted by his own party in August.

The government is critical of renewable sources such as wind and solar, saying they cannot be relied upon.

Australia currently aims for 23.5% of energy generation to come from clean sources by 2020, but there is no official target beyond that. Morrison’s team has announced plans to invest in new coal-fired power plants.

The new Energy Minister Angus Taylor, who is focused on getting power bills down, yesterday attacked Labor’s proposals.

These “reckless targets will be a wrecking ball for the economy”, Taylor said. “We won’t stand for it.”

Opinion polls have consistently put Labor ahead of the ruling Liberal-National coalition ahead of an election expected by May next year.