The prime minister has again insisted the government is taking action on climate change despite the Liberal Party president saying there needs to be a “robust” policy in place before the election.
Although government data indicates otherwise, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia will meet its 2030 emissions reduction target – a decrease of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels – “in a canter”.
“We’ve set our targets, we’re meeting them,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“Australians expect their government to take action on climate change and we are.”
But Liberal Party president Nick Greiner has hinted at the need for further policy.
“I accept the fact that having no sustainability policy would not be an appropriate way to go to an election,” he told ABC News on Tuesday.
“We do need a robust climate change policy, of course we do, and I believe there will be one, yes, before the election.”
Meanwhile, a new report into the effects of climate change has found insurance companies paid out more than $1.2 billion in claims arising from extreme weather events last year.
The Climate Council has observed an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather, and the past four years have been the four hottest on record for global surface temperatures.
Its findings come as hundreds of people remain holed up in evacuation centres across Townsville waiting for floodwaters to recede and bushfires ravaged almost 200,000 hectares of land in Tasmania.
The council’s head of research, Martin Rice, says there’s a tiny window left to tackle climate change, urging the government to take action.
“Greenhouse gas pollution is warming the climate system, increasing the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. This leads to heavier rainfall,” he said.
“The federal government’s current climate policy is an abject failure, with greenhouse gas pollution increasing over the past four years.”
Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler said the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO had warned for years that the risk of bushfires has increased due to climate change.
“There will be more fires, they will be more intense,” he told ABC radio.
“The fire season will be longer and it’s time we had governments willing to take action to start to deal with the threat of climate change.”
Mr Butler says Labor will unveil a “very comprehensive” climate change policy ahead of the federal election, building on the opposition’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target and 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
Climate change is poised to be a key policy battleground ahead of the expected May election, with a number of independent candidates naming it as a focus of their campaigns to oust sitting Liberal MPs.