Australian Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, who will be sworn this week as Australia’s 31st prime minister, has vowed to “end the climate wars” in the country and boost the share of renewables in the National Electricity Market (NEM), as part of the party’s pledge to combat global warming.
With nearly 71% of the vote counted on Sunday night, the Australian Electoral Commission had Labor ahead in 75 seats, just one short of the 76 needed to secure a majority in the 151-member lower house of parliament. The counting of postal and pre-poll votes over the coming days will determine the final numbers, but Labor appears likely to form a slim majority government, providing an opportunity for the party to turn its climate policy platform into reality.
Albanese used his victory speech in Sydney on Saturday night to reinforce Labor’s commitment to a renewable energy future, saying he would lead a government “worthy of the people of Australia … but we can have an even better future if we seize the opportunities that are right there in front of us. The opportunity to shape change, rather than be shaped by it. Together we can end the climate wars. Together we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower.”
Federal Labor has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 43% by 2030 based on 2005 emissions levels, boost renewables, boost demand for electric vehicles (EVs) through tax breaks and help build community-owned solar power and battery projects. Labor’s Powering Australia Plan would see renewable capacity grow to 26GW, or 82% of all NEM generation by 2030. The plan also assumes that EVs will make up 89% of new car sales in Australia by the end of the decade.
Labor’s approach centers on a AUD 20 billion ($14.2 billion) government intervention to fast-track upgrades to the national electricity grid to accommodate the influx of renewable energy. The policy is designed to bring forward the construction of high-voltage infrastructure by lowering financial and planning barriers to unlock the commercial development of large-scale renewable energy resources.
The party’s Powering Australia Plan also includes AUD 200 million to install 400 community batteries, AUD 100 million for the development of shared “solar banks,” and a commitment to reduce the emissions of the Australian Public Service to net-zero by 2030. It also intends to tighten the country’s emissions “safeguard mechanism,” to gradually tighten limits on pollution by the biggest industrial emitters. That mechanism sets a baseline of allowable emissions for the 215 big mining, energy and materials companies that emit more than 100,000 tonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The party’s federal election victory has been welcomed by many, including mining billionaire Andrew Forrest. Forrest, who made his billions in the iron ore industry but is now betting big on renewable energy, said the election result shows “the majority of Australians are unhappy with Australia’s approach to climate change.”
That viewpoint was shared by Atlassian co-founder and climate activist Mike Cannon-Brookes, who is attempting to block the demerger of AGL Energy. “After bushfires and bullshit, floods and fables … comes hope,” he tweeted.
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