Environment Concerns in Australia
Environment is of great concern to many countries and Australia is not left out. Change in climate both globally and locally (Australia) has caught the attention of political parties in Australia. Australia is facing serious climate and environmental issues due to pollution from gas and coal mining (Hobday, A. J et al.,2014). More than 3000 Australians die every year due to air pollution and thousands others suffer health related diseases due to environmental pollution. The main source of air pollution in Australia is the coal-fired power stations (Fenna et al, 2014). The coal powered stations injects Sulphur dioxides and nitrogen dioxides to the environment in large quantities, more than what is recommended by world health organization. Australia’s climate and environment is not well managed, and is lagging behind other developed countries (Zhang, Y., et al., 2018). Climate change is a serious issue to Australia’s government, it is faced with deforestation due to overgrazing and intensive farming. The waters are also affected with pollution. Climate change in Australia has been a subject for politicians and have dominated Australia politics for the decade (Bacon, W., 2013). Climate change challenges are serious issues for political parties and each party has come up with recommendations to address such challenges. The labor party has positioned itself has pro-environmentalist party and proposes development of clean energies whereas, prime minister, Scott Morrison, is seen as an anti-environmentalist and champions for the use of coal.
Addressing climate change challenges
Climate change if not effectively managed, can cause serious problems to the environment and general well-being of the people such health issues, drought and scarcity in food. Effects of environment and climate change can be managed effectively by putting in place strategies and policies aimed at addressing the issues (Maddison & Denniss, 2013). The following are strategies to address the climate change
Emissions can be reduced to significant levels. It can be achieved by providing incentives to businesses, manufactures and even general community. Emission reduction targets should be put in place to help in monitoring the reduction process. The use of renewable energy should be encouraged to reduce emissions and growing of more trees to curb the effects of deforestation.
Energy productivity, especially clean energy should be prioritized to help reduce emissions. Improving on vehicle efficiency as well as installing solar systems on buildings and homes. Adopting renewable energy is important in reducing emissions, especially those emissions from the coal factories which produce more than half of total emissions in Australia.
Climate advisory bodies
Creating, funding and strengthening climate advisories agencies and bodies to keep on reviewing of the climate change policies and coming up with other necessary policies to address the issues. These climate agencies and bodies can also be conducting research and informing the general public on matters related to climate change as well as directing the government on effective measures (McClelland & Smyth, 2014).
Measures and policies
The government should come up with policies and measures that will encourage the use of renewable energy as well as measures and penalties that can see further reduction of emissions such as hydrofluorocarbons. Measures and policies on improving fuel efficiency to reduce road emissions and measures to improve quality of fuel.
There is a strong co-relation between political ideologies and conservation of environment in Australia. Political ideologies that the major parties have come up with aims to support and conserve the environment. However, the ideologies differ from party to party. LNP, a conservative party, advocates for better environment by championing for economic liberalism through economic interventions and protectionism. Liberal party is pro-traditional industry, and has been seen as anti-environmentalist. Labor party, socialist and laborism, ideologies include proposals to development of new clean energy technologies and intense reduction of emissions (up to 45% by 2030) and therefore, positioning itself as pro-environmentalist party.
Climate change has been a subject of political parties in Australia for the past decade and even some political parties used climate change has a campaign tool. Major political parties had to come up with measures and policies on how to address climate change challenges and issues. Managing climate change is expensive and calls for political good will and commitments (Beeson, M. et al., 2013). The two major political parties, Liberal national party (NLP) and the Australia labor party (ALP), ideologies on how to address climate change are discussed based on policies on emissions reduction targets, net zero emissions, renewable energy, energy efficiency, gas and coal, agriculture and land management, transport, industry and price of carbon.
Emissions reduction targets – NLP party has put a policy that will see Australia reduce emissions by 26 – 28 % by the year 2030 based on the 2005 levels. ALP emission reduction target policy is to reduce emissions by 45% on the 2005 levels by the year 2030
Net zero emissions – Australia is a member signatory to Paris Agreement on climate change and targets to reach zero emissions by 2050 (Arabena, K., et al., 2018) and the policy is adopted by the two parties.
Renewable energy – NLP party has put a policy that targets large scale production of renewable energy and targets at least 33,000 gigawatts and 23.5 % renewable energy by 2020. NLP has policies to provide financial incentives for small scale renewable energy and targets use of rooftop solar as well as solar heaters. ALP party policy on renewable energy targets 50% renewables by the year 2030, establishing independent $5 billion energy modernization and security fund. ALP policy is to double the original investment on renewable energy, rebates solar batteries to with a target of 1 million by 2025, and invest $100 million in renewable programs and investing on bioenergy.
Coal – LNP party has no plans of phasing out coal, needs federal environmental approvals by the government on Adani’s Carmichael coal. ALP party also doesn’t have plans of phasing out coal however, it recognizes that coal plants will eventually clos, no plans or intensions of reviewing federal approvals of Adani’s Carmichael coal, seeks to establish just transition authority to address inevitable station closures and requires a three year notice on closures of generators.
Gas – LNP party has no plans of phasing out the use of gas and has come up with 12 generational investments including 5 gas plants to benefit from taxpayer’s fund. ALP party on the hand considers gas as transitional fuel and has no plans of phasing it out. ALP party has pledged to spend $1.5 billion in unlocking and facilitating gas supply
Energy efficiency – NLP policy on energy efficiency is to provide tools and resources as well as facilitating training to enable Australians to reduce energy whereas ALP party will increase energy efficiency through efficiency reviews and comprehensive energy productivity.
Clean energy export industry – NLP party intends to develop a national hydrogen strategy. ALP party has policies to kick start hydrogen as a source of renewable energy with $ 1billion.
Agriculture and land management – NLP party will reduce greenhouse emissions, support farmers on revegetating degraded land. ALP part will reduce pollution through reinvigoration, deal with broad land clearing and put in place federal legislations to control large scale land clearing.
Transport – NLP party will develop national electric vehicles strategy and transition to electric vehicles. ALP party will establish a national electric vehicle target to achieve 50 % of electric cars by 2030.
Industry – NLP party will work with industries to improve energy efficiency. ALP will extend the safeguard mechanism to industries, exposing of emissions and establishing strategic industries task force to manage emissions
Price of carbon – LNP party has no plans of fixing the price of carbon. ALP party doesn’t have carbon tax and pricing mechanism.
Policies on climate change by Australia’s major political parties has direct impacts on how social workers should perform their duties. Policies on fuel efficiency, use of electric cars, and net zero emissions by the year 2050 has direct impact on the practice of social worker. Social workers will carry out his or her practice so as to conform to this measures and policies. Social workers in different fields are affected with these policies and play a big part in achieving the targets set by climate change policies.
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Arabena, K., Armstrong, F., Berry, H., Brooks, P., Capon, T., Crabb, B., … & Lopez, A. (2018). Australian health professionals’ statement on climate change and health. The Lancet, 392(10160), 2169-2170.
Bacon, W. (2013). Climate Science in Australian Newspapers.
Beeson, M., & McDonald, M. (2013). The politics of climate change in Australia. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 59(3), 331-348.
Hobday, A. J., & McDonald, J. (2014). Environmental issues in Australia. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 39, 1-28.
Zhang, Y., Beggs, P. J., Bambrick, H., Berry, H. L., Linnenluecke, M. K., Trueck, S., … & Guo, Y. (2018). The MJA–Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: Australian policy inaction threatens lives. Medical Journal of Australia, 209(11), 474-474.
Maddison, S., & Denniss, R. (2013). An introduction to Australian public policy: Theory and practice (2nd ed). Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.
McClelland, A., & Smyth, P. (Eds.) (2014). Social policy in Australia: Understanding for action (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
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