This State Election, Vote  for Climate
Photograph by @harry_corcoran
Words By Jocelin Chan
School students around the world went on the School Strike 4 Climate on Friday, urging our politicians to enact meaningful climate action. Without the right to vote, children recognised that protest was the best way to call for parliamentary action.
Their demands reflect contemporary dialogue on how futile individual action alone is in significantly reducing the devastating impacts of human activity on our planet. In light of the news that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions, extraction industries generate half of the world’s carbon emissions and 80% of biodiversity loss, and at least 46% of the plastic in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” comes from discarded fishing nets, we need our governments to enforce systemic change.
For those of us who are voting citizens in this country, we have a responsibility to vote for climate action where those school students cannot.
Fortunately, we have a state election coming up this Saturday (23 March). Below is a compilation of the three major parties’ policies on climate change. If action on climate change will be a deciding factor in how you vote, read on!
Unlike their Federal counterparts, NSW Liberals don’t deny climate change. They aim to have zero net emissions by 2050. The Libs also promise low interest loans for households to buy batteries for solar panels.
However, the Libs’ legacy over the past few years bodes ill for their dedication to environmental issues. Although they have built 9 solar farms and 11 wind farms in NSW, we remain the worst state in Australia in terms of renewable use according to the Climate Council, drawing only 6% of our state electricity from wind and solar. Moreover, the NSW Libs’ tenure has seen fish killed in the Darling, the environmental destruction involved in building WestConnex (which includes felling over 800 trees that activists had rallied to protect), and support for knocking down and rebuilding Allianz Stadium—a profligate of resources.
If voted into State Parliament, NSW Labor wants to introduce a Climate Change Act. What this will entail, however, is still unclear. Labor has also promised a target of 50% renewable energy by 2030, and wish to build 7GW of renewable energy capacity through reverse auctions and creating a state-owned generator. They also want to introduce subsidies for solar panel batteries, aiming to install them in 1 million homes (around a third of homes in NSW) within 6 years, and aim to build more solar gardens and wind farms on rooftops and in communities. The new leader Michael Daley supported the School Strike 4 Climate.
If there is critique to be made, it would be that Labor’s plans could be more ambitious. The focus is largely on renewable energy, and doesn’t encompass action against fossil fuel industries or electric vehicles.
Surprising no one, the Greens have the most comprehensive climate change policy—so comprehensive that it’s impossible to summarise in full in this article. By 2025, they aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in NSW by 50%; then 80% by 2030; and produce zero emissions by 2040. Moreover, they want 100% clean renewable electrical energy in NSW by 2030, which can also be used to power land transport. This entails a price on carbon. The Greens would also ban donations to political parties and candidates from stakeholders in fossil fuel industries.
The NSW Greens’ climate policy page suffers from abstractions (“build support in the community for urgent action to achieve a safe climate”) interspersed between concrete action, but the concrete strategies are the most ambitious on offer. Their support for a price on carbon is dated, given the failure of Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme to lower emissions. Unlike the other two parties, they appear to have no plans to subsidise solar panel batteries.