Bill Shorten at the Melbourne People's Climate March.

Industry groups, environmental bodies and unions have responded positively to federal Labor’s plan to go net zero by 2050, announced on Friday by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Labor also announced it would consult on an interim 2030 emissions reduction target of 45 per cent on 2005 levels, based on a recommendation from the Climate Change Authority.

“This will ensure Australia is in line with the global, bipartisan goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius on pre-industrial levels,” a joint statement by Mr Shorten and shadow environment minister Mark Butler said.

“Labor will use the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation of a 45 per cent reduction as the basis for our consultations with industry, employers, unions and the community.

“We will undertake this process mindful of the consequences for jobs, for regions and for any impacts on households.”

The announcement, which has further isolated the Coalition on climate change policy, received brand support across industry, environmental and union sectors.

The Australian Industry Group said it welcomed the proposal to consult with industry.

“Australia’s longer-term contribution to the global efforts to reduce emissions needs to be stable, effective and have bipartisan support,” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said.

“The Opposition’s initiative is an important step towards these objectives and Ai Group looks forward to a constructive engagement on behalf of our members.”

Environment Victoria said it welcomed the news, however warned that the science required more ambitious short-term targets to stay below the 2°C threshold.

“This target represents a good step towards the national leadership that has been missing for so long,” Environment Victoria safe climate campaign manager Nicholas Aberle said.

“Bill Shorten and the ALP are stepping up to the plate on action to reduce climate pollution while the Turnbull Government still clings desperately to Tony Abbott’s hopeless policies.”

He called on both major parties to set more ambitious short-term goals.

Both the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and the Electrical Trades Union supported the announcement, but said that workers must not be left behind.

“There is no sense in abandoning the current workforce, who have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge about how the industry operates,” Electrical Trades Union national secretary Allen Hicks said. “We want to see a comprehensive transition and support plan for these workers so that they can drive Australia’s foray into the renewable energy technologies of the future. In the absence of such a plan, Labor’s proposal is nothing but idle dreaming.”’s Blair Palese said the targets were a huge improvement on current policy.

“If Malcolm Turnbull is as serious about climate action as he says he is, his government will match or exceed the Opposition’s increasingly ambitious climate policies,” she said.

Both Mr Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull are now in Paris, where there is an expectation that Australia will increase its current climate pledge.

Mr Shorten said, however, that Mr Turnbull, who decried Labor’s policy as costly and hollow, was travelling with “Tony Abbott’s climate-sceptic baggage”.

“The Prime Minister knows what he ought to do, but he doesn’t have the courage to do it,” Mr Shorten said.

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published.

  1. All coal fired power stations will have to close, as the UK has just announced. But Big Coal has a stranglehold on the media in Oz so he’s probably trying not to frighten them. What that stranglehold has done is delay meaningful action on climate change for 10 years, making Australia close to a pariah state in some circles (speaking from abroad).

  2. Watched him on TV tonight, he made no sense at all. He’s either uneducated or a liar, promising to reduce emissions by 50% in twenty years time and not to close all our Coal fired power stations. Oil consumption is 30% of our emissions, gas consumption is 10%, throw in a bit of Agriculture it’s quite clear to reduce our emissions by half ALL COAL FIRED POWER STATIONS will need to be closed.