At an event last night to mark the 10th anniversary of the carbon price being legislated, Greens Leader Adam Bandt - whose victory in the seat of Melbourne led to the establishment of a Multi-Party Climate Change Committee that developed a world-leading suite of climate policies - has released modelling showing the carbon price was operating so effectively that had it not been repealed, the Liberals weak 2030 targets would have been met in 2020, a full decade early.
As another power-sharing minority Parliament looms, Mr Bandt said Labor should be proud of their cross-party achievement under Julia Gillard instead of continually trying to airbrush the period out of history, and should instead join the Greens in directing their criticisms at the real enemy - the Liberals - who tore down the only climate policy in this country that actually worked.
QUOTES FROM MR BANDT’S SPEECH
In just its first year of operations, the Clean Energy Act cut emissions by 10 million tonnes.
If the Liberals hadn’t torn up the carbon price, Australia would have stopped an additional 256 million tonnes of pollution going into the atmosphere.
Every tonne counts.
We’ve modelled it. If the price on pollution had not been murdered on the floor of the Parliament, we would have cut over a quarter of a billion tonnes extra of pollution over the last six years.
In 2020, pollution would be 464 million tonnes a year, compared with the 512 Mt we reached under the Liberals and the 529-585 Mt forecast under Kevin Rudd’s own poor first draft of a climate policy.
If we had kept the price on pollution, we would have met the Coalition’s weak 2030 targets in 2020.
Australia’s pollution would already be 26% below 2005 levels, meeting the Government’s insufficient 2030 target 10 years early.
We would be ten years ahead of where we are now.
We would not face, as a country, the humiliation and shame on the international stageScott Morrison inflicted on us these past weeks.
We would not be putting Pacific Islands at risk of going under.
We would be able to honestly and credibly say we are doing a fair share of what needs to be done to keep people safe.
We would be able to stand with our allies, the USA and the UK, to increase our 2030 commitments.
We could condemn the actions of Russia, but instead Scott Morrison has had Australia join them, holding back the rest of the world’s efforts to keep people safe.
The carbon price package wasn’t perfect and nor did everyone get everything they wanted. But it not only worked, it strengthened the economy, solved big problems we faced, and set us up for the future.
Julia Gillard’s achievements here are often ignored.
Not only by the political media, but often by the ALP too.
Ten years on, we can see clearly how these policies would have worked to reduce millions of tonnes of pollution.
Instead of spending all their time telling tall tales about the one that got away, Labor needs to be proud of the climate legislation we actually landed.
The real villains in this piece are the Liberal Party, the Murdoch media and the coal and gas corporations, who all joined together to tear down the only climate policy that actually worked.
As we head towards another minority Parliament, it’s a reminder of what we can achieve for the country when the Greens, Labor and independents work together.
Coal and gas corporations still have deep pockets, but the tide has turned.
As a result, at the next election, we will kick the Liberals out.
And the Greens are once again in a position to be in the balance of power.
If history and current polling are a guide, the Greens could hold the balance of power in the Lower House and the Senate too.
Indeed, pushing Scott Morrison into minority Parliament will only take a few hundred people shifting their votes, but Labor needs to defy recent history to win a majority in their own right.
So a power-sharing parliament is the most likely outcome.
In balance of power, the Greens will kick the Liberals out and push the next government to take climate action.
What we can push the next government to adopt remains to be seen.
Distressingly, in a time of climate crisis, Labor wants more coal and gas. And they still take donations from coal and gas corporations. Where they’re in power in the states and territories they’re opening up new coal and gas mines and federally they’re backing the Liberals to do the same.
Pushing Labor to act on coal and gas will be a priority for us.
The Liberals won’t act at all, but Labor won’t act on coal and gas unless the Greens are there to push them.
For amongst all the tales of alternative history that get told in politics, all the ‘if onlys’ and ‘could have beens’, one stark, historical fact stands out.
The only time that pollution has meaningfully come down was when the Greens were in the balance of power.
Fortunately, if only a few hundred people change their vote, that’s where we’ll be again after the next election.