Climate action bogged down in politics

The ALP and crossbench in the Senate on Tuesday voted to disallow regulations that would have allowed ARENA to find carbon capture and sequestration (unproved and expensive), ‘blue’ hydrogen using gas (still a fossil fuel) and technologies that reduce emissions from aluminium and steel production (at least a step in transitioning out of fossil fuels) and soil carbon.

Well done. But disallowance is a blunt instrument. Part of the package was $192 million for much-needed EV charging infrastructure and microgrids in rural areas which can’t go ahead so there’s a stalemate. The elevation of Barnaby Joyce to Deputy PM adds fuel to the fire and despair in the community that action on climate change remains bogged down in punitive and divisive politics.

It’s a far cry from collaborating on solutions to our most pressing problems.

The solution is not an arbitrary bunch of short-term funding packages this government is so keen on. What’s needed is a decade of action to deliver evidence-based, structural change. 

Here’s our plan to set Australia on the path of a stable transition to deep decarbonisation. And here are the elements:

  1. Be honest. Declare a climate emergency
  2. Commit to reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and develop pathways for this and for net-zero emissions by 2050
  3. Break it down: target sectors with the biggest emission footprints – electricity, stationary energy, transport and agriculture
  4. Price carbon for a carbon-constrained world, starting at $30/tonne, increased in line with key trading partners
  5. Stop subsidising the fossil fuel industry – it’s a losing strategy
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