The environment in the federal election

With the federal election coming up quickly, the policies of the various political parties are in the spotlight.

Climate change policies have been focused upon for both labor and the coalition as many Australians seek clarification in light of high electricity prices and the worry of environmental degradation.

The Climate Institute, an independent, climate change-focused research organisation, has been tracking and rating each political party's environmental performance.

This is something that the Climate Institute does every time there is a federal election, using a qualitative assessment strategy. The assessment is based around what is required for Australia to contribute to global climate change solutions while remaining prosperous in all aspects of society.

It analyses whether policy helps or impedes solutions to climate change, encourages the continuation of the historic decline in domestic carbon emissions, accelerates development of low carbon technologies and boosts prep for unavoidable extreme weather.

The latest update was released on August 26. This release showed that the labour party has three and a half stars out of five for its climate policies, while the coalition lags behind with just one and a half stars, after being given a slight nudge forward after lending support to a national climate risk research centre. The green party, however, is far ahead of the pack, with four and a half stars out of five.

"Climate and carbon policy has flared occasionally into this election campaign but policy movement has been mostly glacial," said John Connor, chief executive officer of the Climate Institute.

"In the last week we have received greater detail from Andrew Wilkie and Bob Katter’s party and there was a welcome announcement from the Coalition over the weekend, which has marginally improved their position to a nevertheless still disappointing one and a half star out of five."

The final assessment of the parties and policies will be released sometime this week. For now, labor is far ahead when it comes to factors such as renewable energy, carbon pricing, national policy integration, participation in the Kyoto scheme and more, whereas in comparison the coalition lags behind in many of these areas.

In the end, for the Climate Institute the final result comes down to who can cut carbon pollution, prepare for the impacts of climate change and accelerate investments in low carbon technology the best.

Posted by Charlie Moore