More than half of Australians back the opposition Labor party’s proposal to raise the nation’s 2030 CO2 target and introduce an emissions trading scheme, a poll showed Tuesday.
Labor maintained its 52-48 majority on a two-party preferred basis from last month ahead of the likely July 2 election, the Essential poll showed.
Climate change is emerging as one of the major issues yet again in an Australian election campaign after Labor’s policy release last week, which included setting up two emissions trading schemes.
“The Labor Party recently announced their policy to tackle climate change which includes a target of reducing Australia’s carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 (compared to the Coalition Government’s target of 26-28%) and introducing an emissions trading scheme. Do you approve or disapprove of this policy?” the pollsters asked.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents approved, while 21% disapproved, the poll results showed.
The policy enjoyed particularly strong backing by Labor (76%) and Greens (88%) voters, while only 36% of Coalition voters backed it.
The poll also found that 70% of voters aged 18-34 supported Labor’s climate plan, while it was opposed by 39% of those 55 or older.
The ruling Coalition’s response to the proposal has been a repeat of the “anti-carbon tax” campaign run by the Liberal party’s Tony Abbott ahead of the previous election, which eventually saw him take office in 2013 after a landslide victory.
However, many commentators in Australia say current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is struggling to sell the same message to voters after he in 2010 described the Coalition’s Direct Action policy as a “fig leaf”.
When Turnbull ousted Abbott last year, some observers expected the government’s climate policy to change due to Turnbull’s well-documented opposition to it.
But he has been held back by a right-wing faction in his party that opposes restrictions on the nation’s fossil-fuel industry.
The government’s climate policy revolves around its Direct Action Plan and Emissions Reductions Fund, through which the government buys offsets, and a Safeguard Mechanism that limits CO2 emissions from the biggest polluters at historically high levels.
The Coalition has pledged to undertake a climate policy review next year if it wins the upcoming election.
Many observers expect that review would gradually turn the Direct Action Plan into a baseline-and-crediting scheme, though that would depend on the post-election balance of power within the Coalition.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said he expects the review to conclude that Australia will make a U-turn in climate policy, and allow for the use of international units to meet its targets.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org