The Australian Progressives recognise the consequences of long term environmental exploitation, leading to degradation and pollution are occurring now. Serious political will must be found to arrest environmental catastrophes.
Modern politics has failed the environment so profoundly that no less than a comprehensive suite of transformational policies is essential to arrest feedback loops in climate systems from spiraling out of our ability to control.
These policies must also lay the foundation for a clean, fair, and sustainable Australia that rejuvenates innovation and aids the existing workforce transition to green jobs and restorative environmentalism. As a consequence of these twin objectives, the response to the climate crisis is a profound opportunity to shift the way we think about our relationship with the environment and re-evaluate the drive of private greed for excessive wealth.
Every day we delay meaningful action, we impose that cost on our future.
Policies listed below that require the immediate cessation of activities include transitional periods to recognise overnight shut down of these industries would unnecessarily drive recession. Transitional periods include worker retraining and establishing alternative industries in reliant communities. It does not mean economic bailout for businesses that refuse to adapt their trade for the new reality.
Environmental policies for conservation, biosecurity, tourism and trade can be found in on our Environment or Industry pages
To address all these challenges, the Australian Progressives are committed to:
- A declaration of a climate and ecological emergency, which will:
- Restructure government policy processes to embed climate considerations into all aspects of new and existing programs
- Implement policies to ensure the Australian economy is net zero for carbon emissions production by 2030
- Put in place a framework for net negative carbon emissions soon after; that is, restorative environmental policies will extract more carbon from the atmosphere than carbon intensive industries continue to pollute
- Transition energy sources to renewables, phasing out dependence on fossil fuels
- Invest in renewable energy to a target of 300% Australia’s energy needs to export the surplus for international trade
- Provide leadership internationally for global carbon reduction agreements with the goal of limiting temperature rises to under 2oC
Australia’s ecosystems are expected to become hotter and drier as local climate systems fluctuate with excess energy. To maintain Australia’s unique biodiversity Australians need to embrace restorative environmental practices to build resilience into local ecosystems and focus on restoring degraded environments.
To do this, the Australian Progressives have adopted the following policies:
- Re-hydrate Australian landscapes using watershed management to reduce the effect of drought, improve agricultural and natural biodiversity resilience and catalyse the ability of our soils to sequester carbon.
- Immediately stopping the destruction of native forests, bushland and watersheds and wetlands,
- Develop programs for restoring lost native bushland.
The biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions is the energy sector (comprising electricity generation and transport fuel) for domestic and industrial use. Australia lags well behind the world in renewable energy generation despite having the greatest solar potential. With the widespread adoption of battery technologies, counter arguments about cost and reliability are nothing more than distractions. Transitioning to renewable energy is a huge task, but one that must be done, therefore the Australian Progressives support:
- A 100% renewable energy target for stationary energy by 2025
- A 300% renewable energy target by 2040 to replace our fossil fuel export products
- Financial support to build a national electricity grid capable of supporting 100% renewable and mass rollout of electric vehicles
- Renationalising the electricity sector to a wholly owned federal corporation with specific remit to to ensure the whole country has access to cheap, renewables based energy
- Expand the remit of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to include establishing micro energy grids and provide means-tested financing for
- Residential solar electricity, storage, and hotwater
- Utilising public buildings for community solar
- Retrofitting housing for induction cooktops, insulation, electric vehicle charging
- Banning all new fossil fuel mining licenses
- Repealing all direct and indirect fossil fuel mining subsidies
- Implementing fugitive emissions control policies at existing gas extraction and coal mining sites to reduce the 7% of emissions (mostly methane) caused by leaks and incomplete combustion in these industries
Transport is a major subsector of energy, accounting for 15% of carbon emissions. The tyranny of distance in Australia has also slowed adoption of cleaner technology to date, but this is not sustainable, and new technology and infrastructure now exists for serious transition away from all but the heaviest, long distance freight. Transport also requires significant collaboration between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories, due to those jurisdictions owning and governing local public transport networks. Our initial transport plan includes the following:
- Implement a high speed rail network from Melbourne to Brisbane powered by renewable energy to reduce dependence on air travel along the East coast.
- Immediately commence transition all existing electric rail infrastructure to renewably sourced electricity
- Electrify non-electric rail lines and where this is not possible, ensure the use of zero-emissions (hydrogen, biofuel) trains.
- Work with States and Territories to design a suitable tax scheme to replace revenue lost from falling petrol excise income while still incentivising private EV uptake
- Explore options with states and jurisdictions to implement Beyond Zero Emissions Electric Vehicle’s plan, expanded to alternate vehicles such as -e-bikes, similar to Los Angeles Transport Plan.
- Establish a finance scheme to assist Local Government expand and upgrade bike and pedestrian infrastructure and work with jurisdictions to develop safe and effective cycling networks within major cities
- Provide co-financing to expand light rail within major cities and regional centres.
- Investment in biofuels, especially using CO2 extraction from ambient air using renewable sources, or lab grown algae as biomass.
Agriculture requires more of a balancing act to achieve climate sustainability than decarbonisation in other fields. It has both enormous potential to assist our response to Climate Change and also a pressing need for adaptive innovation to protect our fragile farming lands from the hotter, drier climate Australia is experiencing.
State and Federal Agriculture departments have significant research capacity already tailored to local environments. The Australian Progressives propose:
- Using state based land services agencies to provide farmers with strategic guidance and subsidies to:
- Invest in best practice regenerative agriculture to improve land resilience
- Expand reforestation and protection of critical water resources as part of a carbon sequestration strategy
- Future-proof local farming communities against targeted, local climate variation modelling
- Invest in soil and landscape water holding capacity
- Protect local biodiversity
- Expand crop diversification to both regenerate the land and provide food security and environmental resilience against changed climate conditions
- Provide for a net increase in native bushland with strategic land clearing management - including bush management using indigenous knowledge
- Protecting our most fertile land from built up development
- Support for start ups to commercialise alternative agriculture sources including vertical farming and lab grown meat to supplement existing agricultural yield
Such a dramatic policy suite requires a comprehensive public service to support implementation, which is why the Australian Progressives support:
- Re-establishing the Climate Change Commission to oversee the response and report to a Minister for Climate Change Adaptation
- Restoring funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation to provide guidance on new energy technologies and electricity storage and distribution
- Increase funding to the CSIRO to research solutions to further reduce emissions and recover degraded ecosystems
- Establish a Green Accord between Industry, Labour and Government for a unified whole-of-economy focus on a sustainable, circular economy
- A whole-of-economy review into decarbonisation - including climate appropriate residential housing and other standards, with options for retrofitting existing buildings