Let's be 'grown up' about our climate future

Climate change and energy policy have emerged as major issues for voters in the up and coming federal election. The latest Australian Financial Review-Ipsos poll shows that voters believe that Labor is better equipped to handle climate change than the Coalition. The poll was conducted just after both sides had announced their policies. The results were reported in the Financial Review on 8 April with SMH also running the story.

The poll shows that 42% support Labor’s climate policy compared with only 25% for the Coalition. Only half of the Coalition’s voters believe that the government is the best to manage climate change. This compares with 72% of Labor voters who said that their party had the best policy. In line with internal research of the major parties, Labor’s approach is more popular in capital cities, higher income households and among those with tertiary education. Just over one-third of voters as a whole said they did not know, suggesting that confusion still prevails among many voters.

Labor’s policy aims to cut emissions by 45% on 2005 levels by 2030. The Coalition’s target is 26-28%. The Coalition proposes spending $2 billion over the next decade on ‘direct action’ to buy back emissions and also to expand the Snowy-Hydro power station. Labor’s policy includes setting a 50% renewable energy target and underwriting clean energy baseload generation. It also proposes a baseline and credit scheme for Australia’s 250 heaviest industrial emitters. It further proposes that 50% of all new cars sold in 2030 will be electric. This issue has attracted relentless attacks from the Coalition.

Young people are playing a growing role in invigorating the campaign for a sustainable future. It is hard to ignore the 150,000 students and their supporters who gathered in March at rallies across the country. Coal mining was one of their major targets.

They called on all adults to consider energy policy and the environment priorities in their vote in the federal election. These students joined the many thousands of others who participated in rallies across the world in grassroots action inspired by young Swedish student, Greta Thunberg. Public opinion around student climate ‘strikes’ is also moving in support of the students, as community leaders begin to stand up for the right of young people to advocate for the future of the planet.

Gloria Taylor
Deputy Secretary