News | 30th Nov, 2010

Coalition has explaining to do on climate targets

Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Adam Morton, Environment Victoria

The Baillieu government will face calls to explain how it will meet the state's legislated target of a 20 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions this decade following confusion over its position during the election campaign.

In a pre-election interview with The Age, premier-elect Ted Baillieu said he doubted the target – which passed Parliament without opposition in September – could be achieved.

He later clarified that the Coalition supported the target but believed it would only be met through federal support.

Environment spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge said the Coalition was committed to the target and had made commitments to help meet it covering energy, transport, biodiversity and waste.

But she said it could not be met without national help through a carbon price.

Environment Victoria, the state's main green lobby group, said there were many gaps in the new government's environment and climate policy stance as it had not outlined its full plans before the election as promised.

The Coalition came under heavy criticism from the environment movement during the campaign, scoring just 22 out of 100 on a subjective rating of its policies. Labor scored 52 and the Greens 93. (More on the state election scorecard here)

Environment Victoria chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy said the Coalition had made some positive commitments, including increasing water recycling and returning flows to rivers, but had also suggested it lacked staff in opposition to develop detailed policy.

''Now they have been elected they will have to take a responsibility to develop policies to meet the 20 per cent target,'' she said.

Mr Baillieu has said he will abandon Labor's plan for a staged closure of the Hazelwood coal power station through a compensation deal negotiated with its owners, International Power.

Other Coalition policies include allowing native forest logging to continue at current levels and introducing tougher planning regulations that would prevent wind turbines being erected in tourist areas and within two kilometres of a home without permission.

It also adopted several of the government's climate commitments, including a goal of 5 per cent of electricity coming from large-scale solar power plants by 2020, doubling the state's energy efficiency target and effectively banning new power plants using traditional brown coal technology.