Leading Emission Reduction Challenges: (a) Dependence on fossil fuels as energy sources, especially coal; (b) Political opposition to climate change legislation
Emission Reduction Challenges
Australia has a long history of coal mining, and many jobs are tied to the coal industry. This has created concern over the economic effects of moving toward cleaner energy sources. However this could be addressed by focusing on the development of renewables in areas that are currently heavily tied to coal. Coal workers could still be involved in the energy sector through manufacturing and maintenance of other sources such as solar, geothermal, wind and oceanic/tide wave energy capture.
Coal currently provides 73% of Australia’s energy supply, and Australia is the fourth largest producer of coal in the world. Employment in the coal industry directly employs 59,000 people and indirectly employs over 100,000. However, the growth of new jobs has slowed and some existing jobs have been lost mainly due to price declines. One report from the Climate Council stated that reaching 50% renewable energy production by 2030 would lead to 28,000 new jobs but there are still economic concerns about the existing industries and transition to renewables.
Politics also plays a role in reluctance to move forward with the Paris agreement. Conservation and environmental regulation is seen as a political issue divided over party lines. More conservative members of government have established records of being opposed to regulation and may be seen as flip flopping or betraying their constituents if they show support for increased regulations, especially those that come from an external source, i.e., the Paris Agreement.
Once environmental concerns have become a partisan issue it can be difficult to move forward on proactive environmental legislation. However, a greater effort could be made to show that responding to environmental concerns is not at odds with some of the core values of conservatism in order to gain the support of Australians who may have political reasons for opposing the Paris Agreement.
–Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Hannah Campi