Labor and the Coalition have been warned not to cede climate policy action to the Greens following new rankings that show the two major parties are failing to provide comprehensive plans to lower emissions and boost energy efficiency.
The 2013 Pollute-o-Meter, created by the Climate Institute, provides Labor with 2.5 stars out of five for its climate policies, with the Coalition lagging on one star.
Unsurprisingly, the Greens are rated highly, with five stars. Other smaller parties and independents fare less well, however, Katter’s Australian Party getting a score of zero, the DLP getting 0.5 stars, Andrew Wilkie scoring 1.5 stars and Nick Xenophon getting 0.5 stars.
The rankings rate parties and independents on their commitment to areas such as emissions reductions, support of the Kyoto Protocol, carbon pricing, renewable energy support and energy efficiency.
Labor was ranked highly for carbon pricing and its commitment to Kyoto and renewable energy, but was marked down for a lack of national leadership and its pledge to reduce emissions by 5-25% by 2020, on 2000 levels.
The Coalition scored poorly in most categories, with the report criticising its lack of an absolute limit on emissions, vague detail on its carbon price alternative and uncertain support for renewable energy investment. Both major parties were marked down for failing to encourage transparency from investors in fossil fuels.
The Greens, by contrast, scored top marks on virtually every area. While Labor and the Coalition scored better than at the 2010 election, where they got one star and 0.5 stars respectively, the Climate Institute warned that the two major parties shouldn’t abandon climate policy to the Greens.
John Connor, CEO of the Climate Institute, said: “It would be a big mistake for the two main parties to cede ground on climate action. Attitudes in Australia show that people understand the opportunities for taking action on climate and want to give carbon pricing a go rather than see politicians squabbling about it.”
“This shouldn’t be a left and right issue. David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Arnold Schwarzenegger are conservatives who have taken on this issue, whereas it’s still in the ideological trenches here.”
Christine Milne, leader of the Greens, told Guardian Australia that Labor and the Coalition had both retreated from climate policy.
“Both Labor and the Coalition thought they could get away with going the bare minimum on the climate but as the community has become more informed on the issue, they’ve both gone back to the old resource-based economy,” she said.
“They’ve ceded this ground to the Greens. Their hypocrisy has been exposed and they’ve decided they will do better electorally to side with the resources industry and the climate will be someone else’s problem in the future.”
Milne admitted that any hung parliament or shift in the Senate after the election will be less favourable for climate policy, given the departure of independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott and the Greens’ own flat-lining support in the polls.
“We need the balance of power in our own right,” she said.
“If a Senate seat goes to the Shooters and Fishers [party], they will want to wind back marine protection, while Nick Xenophon will want to reduce the renewable energy target and stop wind energy in its tracks.
“The polls show the overwhelming majority are concerned about climate change but there’s not the level of awareness in the community due to years of the Murdoch press and others running climate deniers.”
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