Will Bill Shorten step up ’emergency’ climate action or is it just more gas?

May 17, 2019 at 3:37 am Leave a comment

Mark Butler and Peter Khalil

Bob Hawke’s death on the eve of the climate election will likely boost Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the Labor Party success. Labor must not squander the opportunity to address the climate crisis by taking climate emergency action or engage in expanding fossil fuel coal and gas extraction.

At Blacktown today, in the same hall that Gough Whitlam launched Labor’s 1972 campaign, Bill Shorten stated that a Labor government would “take this emergency seriously”. It needs to be not empty words. The time for developing new coal or gas is over. It’s time to Stop Adani. It’s time to go 100 percent renewables by 2030.

We will convene Parliament to prioritise real action on climate change, expanding the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to help drive 50% renewable energy in our system.

I promise that we will send a message to the world, that when it comes to climate change Australia is back in the fight!

… It is not the Australian way to avoid and duck the hard fights. We will take this emergency seriously, and we will not just leave it to other countries or to the next generation.

We are up for real action on climate change now if we get elected on Saturday.

All well and good, but this fails to detail that the ALP has a gas policy – Labor’s Plan For Stronger Gas Export Controls – that actually details an expansion of fossil fuel gas extraction. This policy states clearly at the end paragraph “We will work with manufacturers and industry on the implementation of Labor’s plan to build a sustainable gas industry, including an export industry, that operates in our national interest and puts Australian jobs and gas users first.”

There is no commitment to not develop new gasfields, or to transition industrial processes and residential gas usage by electrification or other renewable energy sources.

Even worse, on 23 April 2019 Bill Shorten announced that the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) will be replaced with a new fund “that will help build nationally important infrastructure projects like gas pipelines across Queensland and the Northern Territory.”

“As part of these changes, up to $1.5 billion will be set aside to unlock gas supply in Queensland’s Galilee and Bowen basins and connecting the Beetaloo to Darwin and the east coast. This project would support Darwin as a manufacturing and gas export powerhouse as well as increasing supply to Queensland and the eastern seaboard to put downward pressure on prices for gas users. Opening up the Beetaloo alone could provide enough gas to supply the domestic market for up to 400 years.”

Aside from gas developments exacerbating climate change, there is the argument that Australian consumers need access to cheaper gas. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) Briefing note explains why Labor’s announcement is “a poor decision that assists an already profitable gas cartel while detrimentally affecting Australian consumers“.

I questioned Labor’s Shadow Minister for Climate change on the ALP’s gas policy at Fawkner Bowls Club meet the candidate forum with Peter Khalil on 8th May. (See original Facebook report)

In my question addressed to Mark Butler I quoted direct from ALP policy on expansion of Australia’s gas export industry and the recent $1.5 billion subsidy for new gas pipelines in the NT and Queensland that will help develop fracking in the Beetaloo Basin, Galilee Basin and Bowen Basin, and how that reflects on Labor’s commitment to climate action and the science that says we need to rapidly phaseout fossil fuels in the next 11 years.

My question was not answered but deflected on to Labor’s $1.1 billion investment into renewables hydrogen and the potential to mix a small proportion of hydrogen with natural gas for the gas pipelines to supply business and residential users.

I tried to follow up with what transition plans Labor has to transition industrial processes and residential use away from gas but I got no answer.

Just take note of Bill Hare from Climate Analytics on what development of new gasfields would do in terms of our climate commitment:

Read more on Peter Khalil MP supports gas, backtracks on climate emergency message #climateelection.

Labor needs to Stop Adani and development of any new coal mines in the Galilee basin. It also needs to not subsidise infrastructure for new conventional or unconventional gas fields.

We don’t have any more time for playing fossil fuel games.

ACT Government declares a climate emergency

Bill shorten’s speech also came on a day when the ACT Minister for Climate Change Shane Rattenbury announced the ACT is the first state or territory government to declare a climate emergency.

“the climate emergency status means that the Government needs to prioritise climate action. From now on, every time the Government makes a decision we will ask ourselves: what does this decision mean for climate change, for emissions, and for the climate crisis we need to avert? If it is not consistent with reducing emissions, then we need to think again,” Mr Rattenbury said today.

“As the recent student climate strikers made clear, we must act as though our house is on fire—because it is.

“Weather here in Canberra is becoming more extreme. We’re approaching dangerous environmental tipping points. Animals are becoming extinct. The climate is warming. No one aged under the age of 40 has lived in a year with global average temperatures below those of last century.

“We must act now or the environmental, social and economic results of climate change will become increasingly perilous.

“Yet despite the realities of our climate changing, there are those up on the Hill that say it cannot be done.

“They will say this, despite the fact that they will soon be working in a building – Parliament House – that will be entirely powered by clean, green, renewable energy.

“[The assembly] condemns the federal government for its continued failure to enact effective climate change policy, and requests the federal government provide additional funding for states and territories to deal with worsening climate change risks and impacts,” the motion concluded.

Entry filed under: climate change info, election, Labors Climate Record, news, Vote Climate. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Vale Bob Hawke, Former Prime Minister and MP for Wills, an early champion of climate action

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