This article was written by the Labour Environment Action Network regarding the ALP National Conference 2021 held on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, by zoom.
LEAN (Labour Environment Action Network) members across Australia worked hard late last year on the Policy Platform development process to deliver gains in the Draft Platform.
Most significantly they won a commitment to setting medium term targets on the way to net zero by 2050, a commitment to environmental law reform and the establishment of a federal EPA. They also supported unions in getting strong commitments to back communities impacted by the energy transition. The Labor Party is now in a strong position on environmental law reform, as the SMH put it: “The platform lays the ground for a battle with the federal government over environmental laws, calling for new national standards, policed by an independent regulator, and enhanced protections for threatened species.”
You can read about those gains here, as well as see the final draft platform that was the basis for debate this week.
Chapter 3, Climate Change, Energy and the Environment was up for debate first thing on Wednesday morning. Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen took the opportunity to announce great policy to speed the adoption of electric vehicles by making them more affordable and policy to support households to make the most of their rood-top solar with community scale batteries.
David Tierney, the National Co-convenor and Felicity both made speeches endorsing Labor’s commitment to act to arrest climate change, create jobs and opportunity in a low carbon economy and to intervene to turn around the decline of our natural environment. You can read them here – they were only 2 minutes long! Or you can check out videos on LEAN’s facebook page.
LEAN did not endorse some of the positions taken by Platform in relation to fossil fuels. This was disappointing, but Felicity ensured members’ concerns about gas were heard. This is how the speech ended:
Delegates, gas is not a low emissions fuel. It is a fossil fuel and a major source of greenhouse emissions.
While cheaper gas is a priority for manufacturers and electricity consumers, domestic reservation, market reform and fuel switching are the solutions – not new gas fields. The community does not support fracking and LEAN stands with them.
Furthermore, fossil fuels are a mature industry, fossil fuel projects and their associated infrastructure should not receive public funding or subsidy. That’s what the Morrison Government are proposing. We know that public funding to lock in dangerous climate change contravenes core Labor values.
I want to thank the shadow ministers for their constructive engagement with LEAN.
I want to acknowledge all the LEAN activists across the country who worked hard to improve this chapter and constantly show up to make Labor a better party – organized rank and file are a powerful force.
Now to the work of ensuring Labor’s election policies are strong and deliver their dual aims of delivering ambitious emission reductions and protecting communities impacted by the transition! As well as look after the natural environment.