climate change basics: Australian Greens policy

Australian Greens Climate Change and Energy Policy                   Nov 2012



The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. Human induced climate change poses the greatest threat to our world, and urgent and sustained local, national and global action is required in this critical decade to 2020 to ensure a safe climate.
  2. A safe climate will require a return to an atmospheric concentration of 350ppm or lower of greenhouse gases (and CO2 equivalents).
  3. Current global climate change is primarily caused by human activities contributing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and is already contributing to disruption of human societies through sea level rise, extreme weather events, desertification and other effects.  This is the overwhelming consensus of international scientific research.
  4. Australia is a wealthy nation and is therefore ideally placed to lead the world in addressing climate change rather than being one of the largest per capita contributors. The Greens are committed to ensuring that Australia takes that lead.
  5. Australia needs to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, actively support international mitigation measures to reduce global emissions, and plan to adapt to climate change impacts which are now inevitable.
  6. Early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately be fairer and more cost effective than delaying action.
  7. The cost of creating an economy that supports a safe climate and adaptation to climate change must be distributed fairly, both domestically and between nations.
  8. The equity principle must be at the core of climate change negotiations and measures and the social impacts of the transition to an economy that supports a safe climate.
  9. Climate change will result in the displacement of people, creating environmental refugees and intensifying the threat of regional and global conflict.
  10. Australia must use its diplomatic and economic influence to promote the development of alternatives to fossil fuel based energy.
  11. Energy prices should reflect the environmental and social costs of production and use.
  12. Subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, including funding for research and development, should be transferred to the renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport sectors.
  13. The major refurbishment of existing coal fired power stations undermines the effort to increase end-use energy efficiency, demand management and renewable energy.
  14. Australia needs to plan for a future that does not rely on fossil fuels for export or electricity generation.
  15. Australia has a responsibility to assist other nations, particularly in our region, to create safe climate economies, and adapt to climate change through appropriate technology transfer and other forms of assistance including resettling and rehousing displaced populations where required.


The Australian Greens want:

  1. Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions within a generation.
  2. A leading role for Australia in negotiation of a multilateral emission abatement treaty which shares the burden equitably.
  3. Binding national emission targets for each year through to 2050 supported by a detailed strategy to reduce emissions from the energy, transport, industry, waste, agriculture and land management sectors.
  4. An equitable transition to a net zero carbon economy through a range of market-based and regulatory mechanisms.
  5. A low greenhouse trigger in the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), ensuring Federal oversight of developments which are liable to have a significant impact on domestic or global greenhouse emissions.
  6. A national system of energy efficiency targets and stringent Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for products, buildings and infrastructure.
  7. 100% stationary electricity in Australia from renewable sources as soon as possible by increasing the renewable energy target (RET) and in addition  measures such as feed-in tariffs and regulations to support a range of prospective new renewable energy technologies.
  8. Exclusion from the RET of new large-scale hydroelectric and native forest fuelled power stations.
  9. Reform of electricity markets to remove the bias towards centralised fossil fuel-based generation and encourage demand management and the development of distributed generation and renewable energy.
  10. Rapid rollout of smart technology, including meters, appliances and grids, with measures to protect people on low or fixed incomes from any associated impacts.
  11. No new coal-fired power stations or coal mines, and no expansions to any existing power stations or mines, plus the development of programs to assist coal dependent communities to make the transition to other more sustainable sources of economic prosperity.
  12. The adoption of the precautionary principle in relation to carbon capture and storage (geosequestration) by opposing public funding, and ensuring that companies are financially responsible for the risks of CO2 leakage.
  13. To use the Government’s vehicle fleet procurement policies to contribute to the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions.
  14. Research, development and commercialisation of sustainable alternative fuels.
  15. The development and expansion of robust distribution networks for sustainable alternative fuels and charging facilities for electric vehicles.
  16. To build support in the community for urgent action to achieve a safe climate.
  17. Corporations exporting fossil fuels to be required to include in their annual reports the quantities of greenhouse gases embodied in their exports.


Authorised and printed by Ben Spies-Butcher and Christine Cunningham, 8-10 Hobart Place Canberra 2601


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