Climate shuffles forward as a major election priority

Kat Wong and Dominic Giannini |

The federal government has been criticised for not winding down coal-generated power fast enough.
The federal government has been criticised for not winding down coal-generated power fast enough.

Australians could be in for another election fought on climate and how the country reaches net-zero as parties hint at policies and strategies a year out from polling day.

The nation is in a strong position to create “substantial amounts” of renewable energy from solar and wind given the abundance of available space, according to Anthony Albanese in criticising the opposition’s “opposition to renewables”.

“We need to transition and we need to transition quickly, I’m convinced we can do that,” the prime minister told the Democracy Sausage podcast which aired on Saturday.

Wind turbines near Goulburn
The use of renewable energy is shaping as a major issue at the federal election in 2025. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

But the government has been criticised for relying on gas as a transition fuel and not winding down coal fast enough. 

It’s against this backdrop that independents backed by Climate 200 are hoping to build on their success at the last federal election. 

Billionaire businessman Simon Holmes a Court helped fund campaigns for various ‘teal’ independents and successfully backed six new MPs and one new senator through the fund.

Climate 200 now has its next targets in sight, with the battleground set for the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Bradfield in Sydney’s wealthy north shore and the former Nationals stronghold of Cowper on the NSW mid-north coast.

Independent campaigns in those electorates received $42,000 and $17,000 respectively as the focus shifts to where previous challengers lost narrowly, executive director Byron Fay said.

In 2022, Liberal Paul Fletcher copped a more than 15 per cent swing against him in Bradfield and only held onto the seat by about four per cent after being challenged by conservationist Nicolette Boele.

The Nationals also had a more than seven per cent against swing in Cowper, with Pat Conaghan just staving off grassroots independent Caz Heise.

Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton
Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton will promote different climate strategies before the next poll. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

As the organisation prepares to target coalition seats after branding them a threat to climate action, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is on the precipice of unveiling his nuclear-heavy climate policy.

Mr Dutton has been critical of the government for failing to bring down power prices with its renewables targets.

He will unveil a costed plan that would put nuclear sites at half a dozen places across Australia in areas that already have coal and gas stations. 

“If you’ve got an end-of-life coal-fired power station, it’s already got the poles and wires there. So, when the energy is generated, you can distribute that on the existing poles and wires,” he said. 

“The latest technology, zero-emissions technology, nuclear, is something that’s now used by 19 of the 20 biggest economies in the world, except for Australia.”

The plan has already drawn criticism from the government and independent MPs.

Labor argues renewables are the cheapest form of energy and nuclear power would be too expensive.

Independent MP Allegra Spender
Independent MP Allegra Spender is critical of the expansion of the gas industry. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Independent Allegra Spender branded the policy “a Trojan horse for more coal and gas, not a serious energy and climate policy”.

“Unfortunately, the major parties are on a unity ticket when it comes to expanding the gas industry at a time when we urgently need to reduce our reliance on expensive fossil fuels,” she told AAP.

Amid speculation of an election before the end of 2024, Mr Albanese indicated her would see out his three year term.

Australians must go to the polls by May 2025.

He flagged a ministerial reshuffle “at some stage, if we re-elected or perhaps even before” but spruiked his team’s stability with no ministerial resignations or dumping two years in.

AAP