Roundup: Australian Opposition reveals ambitious climate change action plan

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CANBERRA, April 1 (Xinhua) -- The opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) has revealed its plan to cut the nation’s emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

The ALP on Monday released its Climate Change Action Plan, a 10-point plan to reduce emissions and increase Australia’s reliance on renewable energy to 50 percent by 2030.

It also includes an ambitious target for 50 percent of national vehicle sales to be of electric vehicles by 2030 and tax incentives for businesses who buy electric vehicles.

If victorious in May’s general election, Labor will expand the existing safeguard mechanism that holds companies to strict emissions caps and will apply it to 250 businesses.

“Labor will take real action on climate change, by working with industries to bring down pollution, protect competitiveness and jobs, and build the industries of the future,” the action plan said.

Climate policy will be a major issue in the lead-up to May’s general election, with the ALP hopeful it can capitalize on some voters’ dissatisfaction with the incumbent Liberal-National Party Coalition (LNP) on the issue.

Ahead of releasing the action plan, ALP leader Bill Shorten said in a statement that “climate change is real, and it’s doing real damage to our environment and our economy.”

“Australians know the truth of this. Farmers understand that if we don’t act on climate change, there will be more frequent and more protracted droughts, floods, dust storms and hail storms,” he said.

“All Australians are aware that if we don’t act on climate change, we’re passing on a tougher problem and a worse environment to our children and grandchildren.

“For the sake of our economy, for the sake of our environment and for the sake of the country we want to hand on to the next generation, Labor has a clear plan to take real action on climate change.”

Responding to the policy proposal, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann compared it to the previous Labor government’s "carbon tax," a policy which was key in Labor losing the 2013 election.

“What they have put out would harm the economy, would harm families, would cost jobs, would drive up unemployment and, indeed, Labor would bring back a carbon tax, they would force people across Australia to pay tens of billions of dollars in higher taxes, only for them to send that money overseas to pay for international carbon credits,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio.

The electric vehicle policy would be the first of its kind in Australia and has won the support of the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), which went even further in calling for a ban on the sale of petrol vehicles as early as 2025.

"I would expect to start seeing targets that are between 2025, 2030 for banning (the sale of new) petrol-driven cars in this country,” NRMA Chief Executive Rohan Lund told the ABC.

"We don't manufacture cars here. We're recipients of the cars coming from Europe and from Asia.

"I think in many ways we won't have a choice in this country." Enditem

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