Comment: The one election promise Albanese must break

Interns' Corner

The new government will ignore my generation’s call to climate action at its own (and the planet’s) peril.

It’s three weeks in, and I’m calling it. The 43 per cent emissions reduction goal is the one promise the Albanese government should break.

Right now Australia is the worst-performing country in the developed world. Don't believe me, read The Climate Council's From Paris to Glasgow: A World on the Movereport which compares Australia's performance on greenhouse gas emission reductions and moving beyond fossil fuel use to other countries' performance.

The previous government used to like to point out the CSIRO assessment that Australia was only the world’s 14th highest emitter, contributing just over 1 per cent of global emissions. However, if you look at coal carbon emissions per capita since the Paris agreement, Australia has the highest emissions in the world, at 5.34 tonnes of CO2 per year, five times the global per capita average.

When then Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese set Labor's new emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 in December last year, I wasn't impressed. Now he leads the country and that target is just not good enough. Our country’s greenhouse gas emissions per capita are almost double those of China.

So, my question is why aren’t we doing more? Why aren’t we trying harder? Neither Labor or the Coalition put the spotlight on climate change in their campaigns. It was left to the Greens and the Independents to beat the drum. Albanese is certainly heading in a better direction than the previous government but if we want to see climate change seriously tackled, he needs to step up his game and strengthen his approach to the environmental crisis.

The burning of fossil fuels has significantly contributed to high levels of CO2 in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in the past 800,000 years. It is essential that we move beyond fossil fuels as quickly as possible. According to a report conducted by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change could be irreversible by 2030 across the globe.

Forty-three per cent is not going to cut it. We don't have time for first steps. We need to jump into action now. Without change, by 2030 the world’s coral reefs will be eradicated, and we will see more intense flooding, heat, drought and poverty than ever before.

As a young voter who demands climate action, I am deeply concerned about my generation's future. If the government doesn’t start setting more ambitious goals, we will suffer, our children will suffer and I'm not sure what will remain for our grandchildren.

In the election, we saw the remarkable power of the independent movement, specifically the teal-coloured candidates backed by Climate 200. This is a community crowd-funded initiative that supports political candidates committed to a science-based response to the climate crisis.

The success of the independent teal candidates and the Greens reveals a social awakening by Australians on the need for a bold green agenda. AEC enrolment data showed four of the five electorates with the highest percentage of voters under 30 (18-29 years of age) went to the Greens.

Climate change is an issue that is suddenly tangible to the electorate, when it is almost too late to fight it. Globally, greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are at an all-time high. The earth's temperature is rising exponentially. We can't endure another three year's of political lip service to climate justice. The action needs to be real and bold.

Right now, you think it's more important to hold fast to your 43 per cent pledge, to show you can be trusted to keep an election promise, but this time, a broken promise is exactly what we need.

Prime Minister, for the love of the planet (and the votes to be had in 2025) break that promise.


©2019 UNSW Sydney All Rights Reserved.
Logo for Hamburger menu