Does the ALP energy policy move us out of the dark ages?

September 7, 2004

The Australian Labour Party today pronounced its energy policy at the World Energy Congress claiming it is a decisive response to our decreasing supply of oil by proposing Australia diversify our energy supply.

But is increasing Australia's share of gas and a marginal increase in renewables sufficient as a national response to the inevitable costs of climate change? Friends of the Earth see such steps are an advance on the Coalitions energy position, but prefer to see mandatory emissions targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and at least 60% by 2050.

Whilst it is great to see environmental sustainability as one of the three key themes guiding the ALP's energy policy the finer print of the policy indicates a greater priority on maintaining short-term economic benefits of fossil fuels and elaborate technical solutions such a geo-sequestration.

"The ALP are still not recognising the enormous economic and social impacts of climate change which are inevitable if we do not reduce our emissions substantially" stated Stephanie Long, Climate Justice Campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "If they were, we would see a much greater proportion of energy coming from renewables and energy efficiency than under this policy."

Munich Re, the world's largest insurance company claimed in 2003 natural disasters cost 65 billion US dollars. This is an increase in costs and deaths related from natural disasters than in previous years and in keeping with a pattern of increased costs from natural disasters since the mid 1990s.

Energy diversity is good in principle to increase surety of supply, however replacing one fossil fuel with another is not an environmental solution to energy generation. Only when mandatory targets for emissions reductions are set in place will the piecemeal offerings of a 5% MRET and carbon tax deliver real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the quantity that we have been advised by the scientific community.

For comment:

Stephanie Long
Friends of the Earth Climate Justice Campaigner
Mobile: 0414 136 461
Landline: 07 3846 5793