Victoria’s Opposition has promised to reintroduce a state-based emissions reduction target if it is elected on Saturday.
The pledge is part of of the state Labor’s newly-released environmental platform.
The Opposition said it would bring back the target, which was introduced in by Labor in 2006 before being wound back in 2009 after the federal renewable energy target was extended.
The Victorian Coalition Government removed the state’s target of 20 per cent by 2020 from the Climate Change Act in 2012
A report by the Climate Council released earlier this month found that Victoria and New South Wales had the worst approach to renewable energy in the country.
Labor environment spokeswoman Lisa Neville said she wanted Victoria to play a leading role in tackling climate change.
“When we were last in Government we put in place an emissions reductions target to reduce emissions and contribute to reducing the risk of climate change in Victoria,” Ms Neville said.
“So we’ll go through a process with the Victorian community again to put in place a program that will actually reduce emissions.”
Ms Neville said Labor would also establish a $20 million fund to encourage investment in renewables.
“[The fund] will co-invest with the private sector to drive wind and solar energy, and new technologies,” she said.
“We’ve also said that we’ll use the planning laws to actually encourage and promote renewable energies like wind farms in Victoria.”
But Victorian Environment Minister Ryan Smith said a target would put pressure on manufacturers and industry.
“An emissions target would cost Victorians and we have not yet seen any costings on any of Labor’s policies and certainly not this one,” Mr Ryan said.
“An emissions target in Victoria would mean that Victorians were under more pressure to achieve a target over and above that which has been set by the Federal Government.”
Wind farm supplier slashes jobs
Victorian wind farm manufacturers have blamed uncertainty around the Federal Government’s renewable energy target (RET) for job losses.
The ABC understands a Portland-based electrical company has been forced to slash jobs, as investment in large-scale renewable energy has ground to a halt.
R and M Menzel Electrical, a company which provides internal wiring in wind towers, is understood to have dropped its workforce from around 50 people to fewer than 20 in around three months.
It is understood a lack of wind farm construction work led to the reduction after projects in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales were finalised.
Portland-based wind tower maker Keppel Prince Engineering last month announced it was mothballing its wind division and axing dozens of staff.
Keppel Prince blamed uncertainty over the RET, which the Federal Government wants to cut in real terms by more than third.
The State Government lobbied the Federal Coalition over the RET.
CFMEU to have a say in creation of national park
Labor said it would also allow unions and the forestry industry be part of a taskforce to determine whether a new national park should be formed in Victoria’s central highlands to protect the endangered Leadbeater’s possum.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union opposed proposals for a new national park because of its impact on jobs.
Ms Neville said a Labor government would form a taskforce of union members, forestry workers, environmental groups and other stakeholders to decide the best way forward.
“We believe very strongly that we need to continue to extend our national park reserves but the best way to make sure of that is to work together with the timber industry and with environment groups and get a good outcome for both workers and our environment,” she said.
In a statement, the Greens said Labor’s environment policy was not worth the paper it was written on.
Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the Government has already invested $11 million in the possum’s survival, while Labor’s plan just puts the CFMEU in charge.
“Labor did nothing under 11 years, formally, and we’ve already done the round table taskforce that they claim to do the only difference is they want to put the CFMEU at the table as well,” he said.
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