Christopher Niesche: What Australia's political change means for climate change
Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has promised to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. Photo / Rick Rycroft OPINION: Anthony Albanese's decisive election victory over the weekend and the way Scott Morrison lost his Government means Australia will start to take genuine action on climate change. In Albanese, Australia will have a prime minister who will seek to build consensus and cohesion rather than drive division and who might even have a go at a bit of economic reform. More than three decades after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change first warned that carbon emissions were heating up the planet, Australian businesses look set to have certainty over climate policy after decades of false starts by both sides of politics. Labor has promised to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 compared with a 26 to 28 per cent cut offered by Morrison. The incoming Government wants four-fifths of the power travelling along the power grid to be renewable by 2030. It has also promised to spend A$20 billion to upgrade the transmission network to get renewable energy from windy or sunny sites in rural and regional Australia to the cities. It will also adopt the Morrison Government's Safeguard Mechanism, requiring Australia's largest greenhouse gas emitters to keep their net emissions below a limit set by the Government. Albanese has promised to significantly lower that limit. Labor's policies may not be particularly ambitious, but they're a long way ahead of Morrison's, which pretended to take action on climate change while supporting the coal industry. As counting continued on Sunday it was looking increasingly likely that Albanese had won a decisive victory and will take the 76 seats needed for Labor to form government without support from the independents. Equally significant was the rejection of Liberal Party candidates in inner-city seats in Sydney and Melbourne in favour of as many as seven independents agitating for action on climate change. The election of the "teal independents" a mixture of blue, from the conservative side of politics, and green has put climate change at the centre of Australian politics and put both major parties on notice. If they are to win government they will need to have a genuine plan to reduce emissions. Albanese has promised to end the "climate wars", the divisive battles between, and also inside, the major parties that left businesses unable to plan for the future because of uncertainty over climate policy and the likelihood it would be changed. He has a chance in the next term to lock in emissions reduction as a permanent feature of Australia's social and economic fabric in the same way that universal healthcare and retirement savings are. The vanquished Liberal and National parties will have to start to take climate change seriously if they ever want to regain government. Labor might win enough seats to govern in its own right, but minority government shouldn't prove too difficult if it comes to that. Albanese was in charge of shepherding legislation through the Parliament in Julia Gillard's minority government and proved to be highly effective. He will draw on these skills to build consensus with independents to implement his legislative agenda. Still, what that agenda consists of is a bit of a mystery. After Labor lost the last election by taking bold economic reforms to the electorate, Albanese made sure he was a small target and released a minimal amount of policy. He is a very different man from Morrison. When it came to making decisions by the former prime minister, the first and foremost consideration was what that decision meant for Scott Morrison and his prime ministership, followed by what it meant for the Liberal Party. The impact of a decision on the nation's wellbeing came a distant third. Albanese is of course still a politician and you don't get to be leader of the Labor Party without a healthy dose of self-interest, but at least what's good for Australia might get a bit more consideration when it comes to making decisions. The incoming prime minister has promised economic reforms without providing any detail. We know he plans to introduce universal affordable childcare that provides the opportunity for hundreds of thousands of women to return to the workforce, easing the labour shortage. He plans to encourage domestic manufacturing and turn more Australian science into businesses, with a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund that would invest in new industries with a goal of creating 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030. The new PM also wants to lift wages through increased productivity, but the plan is vague. Albanese will have to do this at the same time as he battles rising inflation, cost of living pressures and higher interest rates, and undertakes a huge budget repair task, including managing debt forecast to hit A$1.2 trillion in the coming years. Climate change will finally be front and centre of the federal government's policy agenda, but we have the incoming climate independents to thank for that. Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. NZ Aerospace Summit in Christchurch hit by protest - which promises escalation tomorrow.