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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Can Labor wedge the Coalition on #climatechange in #ausvotes2016?

Original article published at

Action on climate change is a live issue at the 2016 election, but it is still divisive. The Australian Labor Party unveiled it's climate action plan to take to the Federal Election, likely to be on July 2. A lot of deliberative thought and nuanced politics have gone into this plan with targeted changes in different sectors.

Environment and community groups, along with the Business Council of Australia, broadly said the plan was positive, although there were criticisms raised about the need for climate policy to become bipartisan to ensure stability in the economic transitions needed. Environment groups stressed that it was a useful starting point and much better than the Coalition government targets and policy, but didn't go nearly far enough to meet the obligations now enshrined in the Paris Agreement of limiting warming to well below 2 degrees and aspire to 1.5 degrees limit on warming.

There were particular criticisms from environment groups at the silence on export coal and new coal mines. Last November His Excellency Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, called for a global moratorium on new coal mines. His call was backed by an international open letter expressing that new coal mines were inconsistent with limiting warming to below 2 degrees. The other issue ignored by the plan are the fossil fuel subsidies worth conservatively $7.7 billion per year. Environmental groups are running a campaign this election on Pollution Free Politics, urging MPs to take a pledge to refuse donations from fossil fuel interests and support a ban on subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

Wedging the Coalition on climate change

Former Liberal leader John Hewson, now an Economics professor at the Australian National University, believes that Bill Shorten can wedge Malcolm Turnbull on climate change. The problem for the Prime Minister is he is beholden to the climate deniers in the Liberal and National Parties with ineffectual policies and some of the lowest climate targets in the developed world. His predecessor Tony Abbott has done major damage to the renewables investment business climate, and the new CSIRO head has inflicted reputational damage on climate science research undertaken in Australia by CSIRO through the CSIRO staff cuts.

Just recently Attorney General George Brandis commented that climate science is not settled, closely followed by Nationals NSW senator Fiona Nash. Townsville Liberal MP Ewen Jones pushed for massive government subsidies to build a coal power station in the Galilee basin, ignoring the 59,000 jobs and $6 billion Tourism industry dependent on the Great Barrier Reef suffering the most severe coral bleaching due to climate change.

Here is what Malcolm Turnbull had to say in parliament on emissions trading after he was deposed as opposition leader by Tony Abbott, which highlights comments he made in a blog post in December 2009 "The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is “crap” and you don’t need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing. After all, as Nick Minchin observed, in his view the majority of the Party Room do not believe in human caused global warming at all."

Malcolm Turbull voting for an ETS, as amended, in 2010.

As early as February 2015 the rumours were rife that Malcolm Turnbull had squashed any climate action ambition to gain support from climate deniers in the party for his tilt as Prime Minister. When he became Prime Minister in September, sure enough, there was no change in climate policy. Professor Peter Christoff from Melbourne University suggested then Turnbull should should go back to his old self on climate if he wants to win an election.

The propensity for climate denial in the Liberal and National Parties is at sharp odds with public opinion. Opinion poll survey done in March by Essential Vision shows that 63 per cent of Australians of voting age believe that there is substantial evidence for human caused climate change. Fifty seven per cent of people support increased climate action. Even among Coalition supporters there are slightly more who say Australia is not doing enough than are happy with the present government policies.

While Labor's plan is reasonably comprehensive they are also reaching out an olive branch to Turnbull for bipartisan support. Personally, I don't see this as being able to be accepted. Turnbull has been wedged by a moderate ALP climate policy and the right wing climate deniers in the Liberal and National Parties. Climate denial has become part of the neo-liberal ideology.

"Labor is putting a Climate Change Action Plan before the Australian people that will get Australia back on to the path to a clean energy future; but it’s also the type of Plan that Malcolm Turnbull should embrace – forging the consensus for change we need in this country instead of kow-towing to the Abbott-right in the Liberal Party. In his heart, Mr Turnbull knows that Direct Action isn’t working, that he needs a plan for renewable energy to grow beyond 2020, and that we need to get broad-scale land clearing back under control." Mark Butler said in a speech.

You can read an edited extract of a conversation between shadow environment minister Mark Butler with Radio National’s Geraldine Doogue about Labor’s new climate change action plan.

So what does the Labor climate plan entail? What follows is my analysis and opinion incorporating the views of community and business organisations, scientists and academics, and opposition parties.

Climate Targets

On climate targets Labor are sticking with a 45 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, consistent with advice from the Climate Change Authority. This is double the current 26 to 28 per cent target by 2030 of the Coalition Government. But it is really the bare minimal target and still be on a 2 degree C emissions reduction pathway. Almost certainly it is too little for Australia's equitable share for 1.5C pathways.

Modelling by the Federal Government's own consultant Warwick McKibbin showed that increasing the target to 45 per cent would have minimal impact on GDP growth. Labor also endorsed a target of Net Zero Pollution by 2050 consistent with the Paris Agreement to achieve a balance between emissions generated and those offset, sequestered or removed in the second half of this century.

The Paris agreement (article 24) also called for countries that have submitted targets for 2030, to also supply an interim target for 2025. Labor has committed to release 2025 emissions reduction targets within one year of being elected. As the Paris Agreement mandates 5 year reviews to increase ambition, Labor also seeks to incorporate 5 year reviews to ensure policy goals are updated consistent with science and comparative international action.

The Climate Change Authority will continue to be funded for $17.4 million over the forward estimates to provide independent expert advice on targets and policies.

There is silence in this climate policy about increasing Australia's 2020 climate target. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, as part of the Copenhagen Accord, committed Australia to 5 per cent emissions reduction, unconditionally, but also promised an increase to 15 per cent or 25 per cent reduction targets if certain conditions were met such as an ambitious global agreement (which we now have with the Paris Agreement). The Abbott/Turnbull Government, kept with the 5 per cent target, but the higher ranges were never dropped from our UNFCCC commitment. Both the Government and Labor have been silent on this commitment since Greg Hunt signed the Paris Agreement in New York on 22 April 2016.

The Climate Change Authority argued in March 2014 that the conditions had already been met to move Australia's 2020 targets to an intermediate level putting forward 19 per cent as an equitable target for Australia.

Energy efficiency and vehicle emissions

The plan aims to double energy productivity by 2030. Light vehicle emission standards would be upgraded to bring us into line with United States standards.

Increasing resilience of cities and investing in active transport solutions connecting with public transport, education and employment hubs is also supported. Infrastructure Australia would have more broader assessment criteria to include smart infrastructure and sustainability.

Policy incentives for uptake of electric and hydrogen vehicles will also be examined.

This is positive, although change is happening rapidly in challenging the combustion engine and vehicle emissions. A tipping point has been reached early this year in the transition from the combustion engine to electric vehicles with the Tesla launch of its Model 3 with an unprecedented level of demand. Other announcements this year included: India wants petrol cars off the road by 2030; Norway wants petrol cars gone by 2025 and the Dutch deciding only EVs will be for sale as new vehicles by 2025. RenewEconomy articulates Six reasons why Australia should accelerate uptake of electric vehicles.

Replace ageing coal generation with renewables

With the energy sector being a large source of our emissions and 70 per cent of our electricity derived from polluting coal, Labor has concentrated key policies in managing this energy industry transition. Our coal fired power stations are ageing and need to be replaced. Labor emphasises a 'just transition' to renewables should be planned, with closure of existing coal plants being industry funded, and workers and communities be supported in this process.

Labor has a range of plans to bolster renewable energy, and the plan reiterates Bill Shorten already announced goal of 50 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2030.

Professor Andrew Blakers, Director, ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, said this 50 per cent by 2030 goal should be easy to beat. "The ALP goal of 50 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 is unambitious – current deployment rates of about one gigawatt (GW) per year each of wind and photovoltaics gets us there. Doubling the current deployment rate to two GW per year each gets us to 80 per cent renewable electricity – and a halving of total greenhouse gas emissions."

Labor will also provide more certainty and flexibility to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to operate according to it's charter. Specific funding of $206.6 million will be provided to ARENA for funding of a Concentrated Solar Thermal power station. Port Augusta was considered for a state of the art solar thermal power station with storage to replace coal, with a fully costed proposal, but to date has not received enough Government support for the project to go ahead.

This comes as the Leigh Creek coal mine sends its last coal delivery to the Port Augusta coal power station run by Alinta, due to close in May 2016 making 185 workers redundant. This is a salutory lesson that energy transition needs to be planned and supported by Government in conjunction with local communities.

The climate plan will invest in nearly $100 million in Community Power networks and regional hubs. This will investigate methods of renewable solutions and local grids for social and community housing, rental properties and apartments.

Under Labor the Federal Government will also lead by example and be a direct purchaser of renewable power.

The National electricity Market will get a modernisation review to ensure the grid meets the needs of consumers, many of which will also be contributing as residential suppliers from solar PV systems along with battery storage as it becomes available. The review will provide an important opportunity to reflect on the gold plating that occurred in the grid by network operators at the expense of electricity consumers.

With a decarbonisation target of 2050 Labor have also proposed a "Just Transition" plan in the phase-out of coal fired power. It has established eight framework principles for this just transition. Point 3 advocates a market based approach to industry restructure as proposed in an ANU Working paper by Frank Jotzo and Salim Mazouz whereby costs associated with closure of a generator are born equally by other fossil fuel generators (See this explained at The Conversation).

Establishment of a Just Transition Unit in the Department of Environment will also help deal with the impact of economic change on workers and communities. Along with this, Labor will develop a regional approach to employment issues, and a pro-active program of economic diversification for communities heavily impacted by energy transition.

A strategic Industries taskforce will be developed to support emissions intensive trade exposed (EITE) industries. This will include a Reserve fund of $300 million over three years.

Targeted Emissions Trading schemes

Labor is proposing not one but two emissions trading schemes: the first targeting just the electricity sector, and the second the general large scale industrial carbon polluters. These schemes were carefully designed to have a minimal impact on consumer cost of living to counter the anticipated scare campaign.

If anything, the schemes are far too timid and reliant on offset credits, but this is probably a reflection of the toxic politics over carbon pricing in Australia over the last 10 years. Labor has done what was thought to be politically feasible at this point in time to get a market mechanism that can be ratchetted up and tweaked over time as ambition is called for.

Just for the electricity sector Labor is proposing an electricity emissions trading scheme to place a cap on carbon pollution. This will be based on a model proposed by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) for electricity generators. This scheme provides for a fully internal market in carbon. According to the AEMC the ETS will operate "without a significant effect on absolute price levels faced by consumers".

The ETS design is very similar to one that Malcolm Turnbull and Nick Xenophon championed in 2009, according to Lenore Taylor writing in the Guardian: Labor's electricity ETS 'exactly' same as designed for Turnbull, economist says.

A second Emissions Trading Scheme, outside of electricity, will target just big corporate industrial polluters. Phase one will run from 2018 to 2020 and run in tandem with the Kyoto Protocol phase two targets to 2020. A cap will apply to corporations emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon pollution per year. These companies will not be required to purchase or receive permits to operate, but when they exceed their cap, they will need to buy carbon offsets for that year. These carbon offsets may be Australian or international and come very cheap with current prices around one dollar per tonne.

The second phase of this industrial ETS will start in 2020 with a cap that is reduced regularly in line with international climate commitments and government climate policy. The precise design of the scheme will be determined during the 2016-2019 parliament.

The Clean Energy Regulator will publish rules governing types of offsets that can be used. This is quite important as New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme allowed use of international offset credits from the Ukraine and Russia which proved to be junk and actually helped financed criminal organisations. Read the Morgan Foundation report, Climate Cheats, into New Zealand use of fraudulent offset credits.

Associate Professor Frank Jotzo, Director, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy argued that Labor's emissions trading scheme for electricity is very similar to what the government may bring in anyway.

"It is not economically optimal, rather it is fashioned to deal with the difficult politics of the issue. The emissions trading scheme for the broader economy seems geared to help meet the strong national emissions targets through industry-funded purchases of international permits. Before 2020 however the emissions trading scheme would be ineffective and heavy industry would have little incentive for action." Jotzo said.

Dr Paul Burke, Fellow, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, highlighted the problem with offsets, "Labor has signalled that their approach would have a quite heavy reliance on emissions offsets, both international and local. There is a good reason why offsets are cheap: they can be of low quality. It would be preferable to move to a system with a more limited role for offsets." he said.

Carbon Farming and land use emissions

Labor is committed to reviving the Carbon Farming initiative for projects such as reafforestation and soil carbon farming, which will also supply offset credits. Agriculture and land management are key areas to bring emissions under control, both in terms of land clearing and the potential for carbon sinks and carbon sequestration. They do not want to get farmers off-side, but work with them so that farming practices provide solutions for managing emissions and contributing to decarbonisation.

But with emissions from broad-scale land clearing, particularly in Queensland during the reign of the Newman Government when vegetation management regulation was rolled back, Federal intervention is sometimes needed for managing damaging large scale emissions from poorly regulated land clearing.

Labor wants to reinvigorate National Vegetation management Framework and adopt consistent reporting of tree clearing across all states. "Labor will ensure that State land clearing laws are consistent with Australia’s international obligations and commitments." declares their plan.

Labor will try to pass legislation, possibly an amendment to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) as a climate trigger related to broad-scale land clearing. "This will ensure proper and rigorous investigation of broad-scale land clearing impact on Australia’s ability to meet its agreed climate change commitment to keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius."

It is clear that emissions from broad scale land clearing can wipe out gains in other areas. For example, Queensland emissions from tree clearing in the state in 2013-14 under the Newman Government soared to 36 MtCO2e. (See for example this article from The Conversation: Land clearing in Queensland triples after policy ping pong)

The Nationals will run a scare campaign against this feature that it is an 'imposition of red tape', and that it 'denies farmers their freedom to manage their land'. But the reality is farmers face a greater impost from coal and CSG mining companies taking over farming land and affecting regional groundwater supplies.

Neither major party has sort to address the legal imbalance between mining companies ability to gain access and approval for mining and disenfranchise those who manage the land and produce our food. The Nationals, in particular, have become more aligned to the mining industry than supporting farmers, their key constituents.

Here is Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce already speaking up in Farm Weekly: Joyce slams ALP climate action policy. But more on the Coalition response later.

Community and NGO Response to the policy

Environment groups pointed out a couple of substantial black holes in the policy. There was silence on coal and fossil fuel export, such as the coal in the Galilee Basin, unconventional gas, and offshore oil from the Great Australian Bight.

Australia's emissions are just 1.49 per cent of global emissions. But when you add export coal and LNG this adds up to about 5 per cent of global emissions. (See Christoff (2012)) The science says that about 90 per cent of Australia's fossil fuels: coal, gas, oil, needs to stay in the ground, unburnt. (See McGlade and Ekins (2015))

There was also no mention of fossil fuel taxation subsidies that conservatively amount to about $7 billion per annum. Kellie Caught from WWF-Australia called on the ALP "to use the upcoming federal budget to commit to a phase out of wasteful fossil fuels subsidies, and instead use the $7.7 billion plus savings per year to accelerate this Climate Change Action Plan.”

Greenpeace Australia were the most critical of the climate plan. They warned in a media relase that the policy does not go nearly far enough to protect our environment from the rapid and unpredictable damage of global warming and is a missed opportunity.

“Now is not the time for half measures on climate change,” said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner, Nikola Čašule. “The Great Barrier Reef is dying before our eyes. We are experiencing record temperatures, month after month.”

Last week Greenpeace released its Exporting climate change, killing the Reef (PDF) report, in which they detail that Australia’s carbon emissions exports, via the coal mining industry, are almost double its domestic emissions and are destroying the reef through climate change.

“The ALP has differentiated itself from the Coalition with encouraging policy positions on renewables and domestic energy, but it has failed to address Australia’s biggest contribution to dangerous global warming: our expanding coal exports. To meet the ambition of the Paris climate agreement, over 90 per cent of Australia’s coal will need to stay in the ground. The time for weak policies, written under the shadow of the fossil fuel industry, is over.”

“While a clear improvement on the status quo, Labor’s domestic emissions target itself remains insufficient to prevent dangerous levels of warming. The ALP has also missed the opportunity to deliver a bold, powerful policy to end taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels once and for all.” said Nikola Čašule. "It’s time to leave dirty 19th century coal behind, and embrace the 21st century’s clean, renewable energy. It’s time for a Coal Free Australia that will protect our environment, our climate, and the Great Barrier Reef.”

Other groups, besides Greenpeace, were more positive and conciliatory while indicating there was room and indeed the necessity to go further to meet the ambition obligations and goals under the UN Paris Agreement.

WWF-Australia articulated that decarbonization pathways will require all countries to do more, sooner and faster, including Australia. Especially the 1.5C pathways. I attended a seminar this week featuring Dr Joeri Rogelj discussing Is #1o5C #ParisAgreement temperature pathway possible? The task seems incredibly difficult without rapid near term emission cuts to start us on the pathway.

“A recent ClimateWorks and WWF report showed that Australia is well positioned to make at least 50% cuts to our domestic pollution, and at least 65% with international offsets by 2030, while our economy still motors along at similar rates of growth we’ve enjoyed over the last five years,” Ms Caught from WWF-Australia said.

The WWF called for the 5 year reviews to focus on increasing pollution targets, and accelerating the renewable energy transition. "This will put Australia in a stronger position to protect the people and places we love, and build a sustainable prosperous future." Ms Caught said.

Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave urged the Government to meet and beat the Opposition’s plan for maximising Australia renewable energy resource. “As the global energy economy transitions to zero emissions, renewable energy can clearly be Australia's superpower – the ALP is quite correct to state that in their policy,” Dr Bygrave said. "The ALP’s new policy commitment to the renewable energy transition is significantly both higher and deeper than the Coalition’s current targets and plans. This is at least the kind of ambition we need to be seeing in this country, but more will be needed.”

Australian Conservation Foundation CEO, Kelly O’Shanassy welcomed Labor’s target for zero net emissions by 2050, but urged a stronger 2030 target. "But even Labor’s interim target is a significant leap forward from the Turnbull government’s plan to cut pollution by 26–28 per cent by 2030, which leaves Australia with one of the weakest targets among developed nations."

Protecting the Great Barrier Reef from further damage was a prominent concern, "All parties will need to go further if we’re going to protect Australian communities from worse droughts and bushfires and give the Great Barrier Reef a genuine chance." said Ms O’Shanassy.

There was also disappointment that new coal mines hadn't been ruled out in the climate plan, "If one particular proposed coal mine – Adani’s massive Carmichael project – proceeds, it will create billions of tonnes of pollution, contributing massively to climate change. Cutting pollution from coal-fired power stations and coal mines, and supporting clean energy, should be key issues for all parties at this federal election,” she said.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke highlighted the hope of limiting warming to 1.5C and what Australia should be doing, but was disappointed the plan did not rule out new coal mines. "The reality is that 90 per cent of Australia’s coal reserves would need to be left unburned to secure even a 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 C." she said.

“To have a hope of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5C – a limit rightly demanded by the world’s most vulnerable countries – a country like Australia needs to be reducing its carbon pollution by at least 65-80% by 2030 and reaching zero emissions well before mid-century." said Szoke.

Szoke also raised the necessity for a vision and plan to support developing countries in adapting to the challenges of climate change and for all parties to increase Australia’s support to developing countries adapting to climate impacts.

“Australia is surrounded by some of the most vulnerable countries on earth to the impacts of climate change. For our neighbours in the Pacific, the impacts of shifting weather patterns, rising seas and destructive storms are already stark. The months since Paris have delivered forceful reminders of what is at stake – news of temperature records shattered, devastating bleaching of the reef, and the second category five cyclone to make landfall in the Pacific in as many years.

The plan also received support from the Business Council of Australia, with Business Council Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott saying "it could provide a platform for bipartisanship to deliver the energy and climate change policy durability needed to support the critical transformation to a lower emission future,”

“The Opposition’s differentiated approach to key sectors of the Australian economy is welcome and the Business Council would work with a Labor government to maintain the competitiveness of the Australian economy." said Westacott.

Doctors for the Environment issued a statement that also lamented Labor’s lack of mention of new coalmines citing the impact of coal on climate change and health. The statement outlines that pollution from coal burning causes cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological diseases, as well as lung cancers and contributes to the reduced life expectancy of residents in coal-producing areas. It also targeted the increasing emissions from unconventional gas developments and Labor's silence in this area of the climate plan.

“The health impacts of climate change are already evident, and will increasingly be felt in GP surgeries and emergency rooms across the nation,” says DEA spokesperson Dr David Shearman.

Professor Mark Howden, Director, ANU Climate Change Institute, identified that an adaptation role was missing from the climate plan. "Climate adaptation is another string to the innovation bow and it will bring major economic, social and environmental advantages if done well. To acknowledge the need for climate adaptation does not undermine the positive options in Labor’s Plan for reducing emissions. It is simply a practical and pragmatic response to the realities of change as it unfolds." he said.

Miriam Lyons, climate and energy policy expert with GetUp!, drew attention to the ideological attacks from the government causing renewables investment to tank, jobs lost and opportunities go overseas. "The Turnbull government now needs to step up with its own credible, pro-renewable plan if it wants to prove that it has moved away from Tony Abbott’s attempts to destroy the one of the biggest growth industries of the century." she said.

“Poll after poll shows Australians want more renewables and a managed transition away from coal-burning power." Ms Lyons said, "We want the jobs, the reduced pollution and the cleaner, more affordable power. Communities adjacent to coal mining and burning are sick of the air pollution that causes respiratory illness. 100 per cent renewable power by 2030 is achievable and comes with billions a year in fuel-cost savings, as demonstrated in the Homegrown Power Plan we released jointly last week".

Response from the Coalition

As expected, the Government and individual Coalition candidates are reacting to Labor's nuanced climate plan with a scare campaign. Their attack focuses on labelling the climate plan as a new 'carbon tax' that will 'increase electricity costs astronomically', with a scare campaign for farmers on not being allowed to cut down trees.

This is despite the fact that Labor's plan explicitly does not include a carbon tax or a fixed price on pollution. Greg Hunt should know the difference between an Emissions Trading Scheme and a carbon tax. His 1990 university thesis was on 'A tax to make the polluter pay'. Yet now he conflates an ETS with a carbon tax. Lenore Taylor at The Guardian argues Why Coalition climate scare campaign is not credible and makes no sense.

Read more from Michael Koziol at the Sydney Morning Herald how Malcolm Turnbull reprises elements of Tony Abbott's scare campaign to fight Labor plan.

An example of scare tactics is the statement by Marty Corboy, Nationals candidate in the Victorian seat of Indi. He categorised Labor's climate plan as "another new Labor tax on hardworking Australians".

"Their plan to bring back an ETS and increase the target to 45% will increase power prices by 78% by 2030, according to modelling by the Climate Change Authority..." he stated.

Please Mr Corboy, check your facts. The Climate Change Authority said itself that it is “incorrect” and “wrong” to interpret its report this way. This is misleading and distorting the truth. Read Lenore Taylor on this.

Even better, look at the modelling done by consultant Warwick McKibbin for the Coalition Government when setting the 2030 climate targets revealed a negligible difference between 26 per cent and 45 per cent emissions reduction on GDP growth. “The core target scenarios estimate that targets ranging from -26 to -45 per cent would result in GDP being 0.6 to 1.0 per cent lower in 2030 compared to without a target” says the report.

Corboy conflates the inclusion of broad-scale land clearing activities and it's affect on Australia's emissions in Labor's climate plan, as an attack on farmers freedom to cut down trees.

"Their plan to restrict land clearing and overrule state government tree clearing policies will mean that not only will we have state vegetation police, but in future a new form of federal vegetation police as well." Corboy says.

But Labor's policy isn't directed against individual and small scale tree management, but at landscape scale deforrestation and bush clearing. Activities at a scale that impact Australia's emissions such as in Queensland.

Please no more old metaphors, Mr Corboy, of drowning in 'red tape'. If farmers are doing broad-scale land clearing without proper assessment of such changes on emissions, erosion impact and biodiversity loss, they are out of step with modern farming and land management practices, not to mention global sensibilities and practices with climate change.

It is clear that most farmers work hard in preserving the wealth of the soil and land to pass on to future generations. A climate trigger against broad-scale land clearing isn't directed against small-acre farmers caring for the land and needing to cut down a tree or two on occasion, but agribusiness that are keen to pillage the land for short term profits at longer term expense to the land, environment and climate.

Murdoch media response

Don't you 'love' the politically biased headlines in Murdoch's media empire?

So. Will Labor's climate policy be a plus or minus for voters? Will the Coalition scare campaign work second time round?

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