Climate Change and Energy

The climate challenge is also an opportunity to transform Australia into a carbon-neutral powerhouse that creates new jobs and a cleaner planet.

Principles

The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. Human-induced climate change poses the greatest threat to our world, civilisation and way of life.
  2. Climate change touches all aspects of modern life, contributing to disruption of human societies through sea level rise, extreme weather events, desertification and changing weather patterns, and threatening food security, water, the economy, social cohesion and the well-being of humans and other living things. These impacts will escalate in the future.
  3. Urgent and sustained local, national and global action is required to avoid catastrophe and ensure a safe climate.
  4. A safe climate will require a return to an atmospheric concentration of 350 parts per million or lower of greenhouse gases (and CO2 equivalents).
  5. Australia’s climate policy should be consistent with our commitment under the Paris Agreement to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this is essential to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
  6. Australia's primary responsibility is to reduce our contribution to emissions; we cannot rely on as-yet undeveloped and undemonstrated draw down mechanisms.
  7. Climate change is resulting in the displacement of people, having a disproportionate impact on people in less developed countries, creating environmental refugees and intensifying the threat of regional and global conflict. Australia has a responsibility to assist in resettling and rehousing displaced populations.
  8. Australia needs to plan for a future that does not rely on fossil fuels for export or domestic use.
  9. Australia is a wealthy nation with extensive renewable energy resources that should be used to benefit all Australians, and it should become a world leader in addressing climate change.
  10. Australia needs to urgently and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, actively support international mitigation measures to reduce global emissions, and plan to adapt to climate change impacts which are now inevitable.
  11. Australia is one of the largest per capita contributors to climate change and must urgently and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, actively support international mitigation measures to reduce global emissions and plan to adapt to climate change which is already starting to have serious impacts.
  12. Many of the harshest impacts of climate change disproportionately affect those already experiencing disadvantage. Addressing climate change and building a just society go hand in hand.
  13. Climate action to include and respond to the differentiated needs, experiences, priorities and capacities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other communities.
  14. Equity must be at the core of climate change negotiations and measures, and the transition to an economy that supports a safe climate.
  15. Climate change necessitates a transition away from an economy reliant on unsustainable consumption and production of greenhouse gases. The cost of creating an economy that adapts to climate change and supports a safe climate must be distributed fairly, both domestically and internationally.
  16. In moving to a low-carbon economy, it is essential to minimise the adverse impacts of that transition on communities that are most at risk and most disadvantaged.
  17. Failing to transition to a low carbon future will have adverse impacts on our economy and society through:
    1. the increased cost of adaptation;
    2. increased risk of extreme weather events and bushfires; and
    3. risks to water resources, agriculture and food security.

      Economic opportunities may be lost or diminished by failing to encourage a rapid transition to a more sustainable economy.
  18. Australia has the capacity to ensure that our electricity needs can be provided by renewable energy.
  19. Australia must develop the capacity to drastically reduce emissions from all sectors, draw down greenhouse gases, and be greenhouse gas neutral or negative within a generation.
  20. Australia's primary responsibility is to reduce our contribution to emissions; we cannot rely on as-yet undeveloped and undemonstrated draw-down mechanisms.
  21. Early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately be fairer and more cost effective than delaying action.
  22. A systematic response by all levels of government is required to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors.
  23. The extraction of fossil fuels for domestic and international consumption, is not consistent with our international commitment to address climate change.
  24. Significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may be achieved by reducing the demand for material goods.
  25. Australia must use its scientific, diplomatic and economic influence to promote the development and deployment of non-polluting alternatives to fossil fuel based energy.
  26. Energy prices should reflect the environmental, social, health and other external costs of its production and use.
  27. Subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, including funding for research and development, should be removed, while investment in the renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable public transport, energy efficient social housing, agriculture and other relevant sectors should be increased.
  28. The major refurbishment of existing coal fired power stations, except for transitions to renewable energy, undermines the effort to increase end-use energy efficiency, demand management and renewable energy.
  29. A just transition for communities and workers affected by closure of fossil fuel based mining and electricity generation industries is essential.
  30. Climate change will have a greater impact on our neighbours in the Pacific and Asia. Australia has a responsibility to assist other nations, particularly in our region, to create safe climate economies, and adapt to climate change through appropriate technology transfer and other forms of assistance.
  31. As an essential utility, regulation of all energy infrastructure must be government controlled, and the ownership of electricity retail, generation and networks should be in public or community hands. 

Aims

The Australian Greens want:

  1. Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2040.
  2. A leading role for Australia in negotiation of a multilateral emission abatement treaty which shares the burden equitably, recognising the proportionately greater historical and current contribution of wealthy industrialised nations to climate change.
  3. Removal of all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
  4. An orderly phase out of fossil fuel mining, fossil fuel based electricity generation and consumption of fossil fuels consistent with the emissions reduction plan.
  5. A just transition to a net zero carbon economy through a range of mechanisms including a plan to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy through strong regulatory intervention and a strong effective price on carbon.
  6. Binding national emission limits for each year through to 2050 supported by a well-funded, comprehensive, integrated and research-based emissions reduction plan with appropriate targets and reporting for all sectors with significant greenhouse emissions.
  7. A legislative framework to ensure that:
    1. addressing climate change is acknowledged as a federal government responsibility;
    2. all relevant legislation and regulations requires that climate change is to be considered;
    3. long-term and interim targets to achieve reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, and reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, are set, adhered to and achieved;
    4. climate is considered in all National Energy Market (NEM) decisions and relevant interim and long-term targets and goals are met;
    5. climate is considered in all decision and approval processes involving the federal government and/or involving matters of national environmental significance as currently set out under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act);
    6. decisions which have implications for climate change, and the considerations on which the decisions were based, are publicly reported; and
    7. the federal government does not divest itself of environmental responsibilities by administrative arrangements.
  8. A national system of energy efficiency targets and stringent Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for products, buildings and infrastructure.
  9. 100% of stationary electricity in Australia to come from renewable sources as soon as possible, by increasing the renewable energy target (RET) as well as measures such as public investment, feed-in tariffs and regulations to support a range of renewable energy generation, storage and conservation technologies.
  10. The pricing of electricity and fossil fuels to reflect their true cost, including externalities such as their impacts on health, water resources, ecosystems, agricultural production, air pollution and climate change.
  11. Exclusion of new large-scale hydroelectric power stations and all electricity from burning native forests from the RET.
  12. Reform of electricity supply system and regulation to remove the bias toward centralised fossil fuel-based generation and encourage demand management and the development of distributed generation and storage of renewable energy.
  13. Improved regulations, monitoring and compliance for all existing unconventional gas operations, particularly in relation to methane emissions, but also in relation to impact on water resources, agricultural land and biodiversity.
  14. To build support in the community for urgent action to achieve a safe climate.
  15. Rapid rollout of smart technology, including meters, appliances, grids and energy storage, with measures to reduce the financial impact on people with low or fixed incomes.
  16. To build capacity within our communities and industries to develop and expand local renewable energy, including through increasing community and public ownership of energy production and storage.
  17. No new coal-fired power stations, gas mines or oil wells, and no expansions to any existing coal- or gas-fired power stations or mines, plus the development of programs to assist fossil fuel-dependent communities to make the transition to other more sustainable sources of economic prosperity.
  18. The adoption of the precautionary principle in relation of carbon capture and storage (geosequestration) by opposing public funding, and ensuring that companies are financially responsible for the risks of greenhouse gas leakage.
  19. To use the Government's vehicle fleet procurement policies to contribute to the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions, including through the use of zero emission vehicles.
  20. Research, development and deployment of sustainable fuels which demonstrably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and do not threaten biodiversity or food security.
  21. Research, development and deployment of carbon neutral technologies for manufacturing and industry, particularly replacing the direct use of fossil fuels in industrial processes.
  22. Research, development and deployment of mechanisms to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from sea and air transport.
  23. To ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from sea and air transport, both domestically and internationally, are calculated and reported under national and international obligations.
  24. Research, development and deployment of mechanisms to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and encourage a move away from a reliance on carbon intensive food production.
  25. Research, development and deployment of processes aimed at converting renewable energy into exportable resources.
  26. The development and expansion of robust distribution networks for sustainable alternative fuels and charging facilities for electric vehicles.
  27. Corporations exporting fossil fuels to be required to include in their annual reports the quantities of greenhouse gases embodied in their exports, whether or not liability for those emissions is covered by the laws of the recipient country.
  28. An Australian government investment policy that divests from all fossil fuel extraction and consumption.
  29. A requirement that all financial institutions, including superannuation and managed investment funds, disclose their investments in companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction, electricity generation and transport.
  30. The development of a mechanism to ensure that the embedded emissions in imported goods are calculated and reported, noting that Australia and other developed countries effectively export their emissions liability by importing goods rather than manufacturing them.
  31. Engagement with the international community to ensure that international reporting of emissions includes imported emissions (not only emissions emanating from activities undertaken in each country), thereby providing a more accurate estimation of each country’s ecological footprint.
  32. Stronger controls and wherever possible, a ban on land clearing, logging of native forest and other activities that reduce carbon storage, including threats to kelp forests and sea grass beds.
  33. Improved planning for coastal communities that could be affected by sea level rises.
  34. Improved planning for agricultural areas that could be impacted by climate variability, extreme weather events and fires.
  35. To promote agricultural, forestry and land use regimes in which photosynthetic sequestration of carbon dioxide exceeds its emission to the atmosphere.

(Resolved: National Conference May 2018)