The Victorian Liberal Party has announced key facets of its climate and energy policy. How ambitious are the policies? Are they strong enough to tackle our climate and environmental crises? Here’s our analysis…
What has been announced?
Opposition leader Matthew Guy and Shadow Minister for Climate Change James Newbury pledged to uphold and legislate the state’s current 2030 Emissions Reduction Target (ERT) of 45-50%. This is the third time this year that the Liberals have signalled a key shift in their stance on the ERTs.
The Liberals’ commitment to the 2030 target is significant, as it creates new policy competition between the two major parties on how they will reach the now-shared 2030 climate target.
This policy announcement effectively builds upon Labor’s Solar Homes Program, allocating $4.8bn of funding through commitments such as:
- Delivering rebates to 1 million households between 2023 and 2035
- Increasing the pace of the rollout from approximately 65,000 to 85,000 per year
- Allowing rebates for both solar and batteries
- Expanding the rebate to at least 100,000 rental properties
- Installing more solar on public infrastructure, such as state schools and social housing
When it comes to the Victorian Liberals’ track record on climate and energy policy in Victoria, recent history is still remembered by communities across Victoria. The last time the Liberals were in power in Victoria, they put in arguably the world’s most regressive anti wind energy laws under Matthew Guy as Minister for Planning. In this same period of government, the Liberals ruled out an orderly closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, which increased the shock to the system when the owners closed it down and left the community to pick up the pieces. Finally, as recently as 2018, the Coalition under Matthew Guy pledged to scrap Victoria’s Emissions Reduction Targets and Renewable Energy Target.
It’s a welcome change to see the Victorian Liberal Party commit to upholding the state’s Emissions Reduction Target of 50% by 2030 and begin to back up that commitment with tangible policies.
However, the Liberals have substantial work to do to build trust with communities on their climate commitments and scale up their ambition to align their policies with the latest climate science.
What more should the Victorian Liberals do?
The Victorian Liberals’ affirmation that the net-zero by 2050 goal is no longer up for debate, and support of the current 2030 climate targets, are welcome steps, in contrast with the internal disputes still present in the federal Coalition.
However, the Liberals’ insistence on opening up new gas reserves is out of step with climate science and would see Victorians continue to be exposed to the health risks of fossil gas usage and cost-of-living pressures associated with gas usage.
The International Energy Agency’s 2021 report on decarbonising the energy sector makes the case that for the world to meet the 1.5°C challenge, ‘there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.’
And of course, the latest climate science clearly tells us that to have a chance at avoiding global warming of more than 1.5°C, the deepest emissions cuts need to be made before 2030.
As the election campaign unfolds, we call on the Victorian Liberals to:
- Publicly commit to upholding the Victorian Climate Change Act in full.
- Set a target for all public buses to be electric by 2030.
- Publicly support the Victorian Renewable Energy Target and commit to kickstarting an offshore wind industry.
- Commit to supporting and funding a Just Transition Plan for the Latrobe Valley.
- Announce a plan to get Victorian homes and businesses off polluting fossil gas usage.
- Rule out the inclusion of hydrogen produced using fossil fuels from the Hydrogen Strategy.
- Commit to supporting a managed transition out of native forest logging before 2030.
- Commit to upgrading Victoria’s public housing by insulating and retrofitting buildings with efficiency measures, and electrifying appliances to get the housing off gas usage.
Policies such as these to drive stronger emissions cuts this decade from the Victorian Liberals would be welcomed by the families, small businesses and communities around the state who are already dealing with the costs of intensifying climate impacts.
It should be noted that neither major party currently has all policies needed to meet the now-shared Emissions Reduction Target of 50% by 2030 or net zero by 2050. We will continue to monitor what policies the Liberals will put on the table to tackle the climate crisis.