Compare the climate-related policies of the Greens, Labor and Coalition

Voter's choice

The 2016 federal election was held on Saturday 2 July. There were many issues for Australian voters to consider: health, education, superannuation, income tax, housing affordability, asylum seekers, and the list goes on. The purpose of this page was to compare the policies related to climate change taken to the election by the Australian Greens, the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal–National Coalition.

Looking for information about the ACT election? Compare ACT party policies here.

This information was sourced from the parties’ own websites and policy documents. See the bottom of the page for the list of sources. We as much as possible simply quoted directly from the sources, but paraphrased where necessary to reduce the number of words or present information in a comparable format. Also, it was difficult to determine in some instances whether funding for particular programs or initiatives was already included in or was additional to broader programs, and, particularly in the case of existing Australian Government programs, whether proposed policies were for new or continuing funding. Refer to the parties’ own websites for the full original text and detail.
Note: This information has not been updated since the election so may no longer be consistent with party websites.

Want some help understanding what the policies mean for Australia? Check out our blog for commentary.

We did our best to group policies together in themes to allow for easier comparison, but many policies are relevant to multiple themes so we included some cross-references where this occurs.
Browse the table or jump straight to a theme: Party values, Overall view of climate change, Emissions reduction and fossil fuel transition, Renewable energy, Transport and infrastructure, Land management and conservation, Great Barrier Reef, Adaptation

A summary of each party’s climate-related policies


Australian Greens

Australian Labor Party

Liberal–National Coalition


Richard Di Natale

Bill Shorten

Malcolm Turnbull

Political spectrum




Party values, election platform

Four key principles: ecological sustainability, grassroots democracy, social justice, and peace and non-violence.

We put people and our future first: meaningful and smart solutions to ensure future generations of Australians have clean air, clean water and clean soil.

We champion integrity, decency and fairness, speaking on behalf of those who wouldn’t otherwise get much of a say inside parliament: children, refugees, students, individuals and families living in poverty and, of course, our natural environment.

Labor represents people, middle and working class people – people who otherwise would not have their voices properly heard. A Shorten Labor Government will stand up for middle and working class families across Australia.

At this election we will offer Australians a real choice: on fair taxation, on Australian jobs, on a properly-funded Medicare, on renewable energy and importantly – on quality education.”

We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.

In this very uncertain world, Australia needs political stability and a strong economic plan for jobs and families. Australia is transitioning from the mining construction boom to a new and more diverse economy. The Coalition’s Plan for a Strong New Economy is supporting this transition. Our Plan will provide growth, jobs and a secure future for Australian families.

Overall view of climate change

Climate change poses the greatest threat to our world in human history and requires urgent local, national and global action. The preservation of human life is paramount.

Play our part in stablising global warming at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

This is the critical decade for combating climate change. The amount of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere necessitates not only urgent, substantial mitigation but also prompt adaptation to climate change. Early action to reduce greenhouse emissions, including carbon pollution, is cheaper and fairer than delaying action. Climate change policy should be based on the best available science. Climate change policy should inform and frame all other policies.

If we do not act, Australia will continue to experience an increase in extreme weather events, more severe droughts and rising sea levels. All of which will come at an incredibly high cost to our economy, our environment and our way of life.

Labor accepts the science that limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius is necessary to avert dangerous climate change. That commitment requires Australia to be a net zero pollution economy by the middle of the century.

To protect our environment for future generations, we need to tackle climate change.

As a country, we are playing our part in the global challenge on climate change. Australia signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement in April 2016 and will seek to ratify it this year.

Some climate change impacts will be unavoidable. Australia is well positioned to manage the risks of a variable and changing climate.

All levels of government, business and the community have a role to play in preparing for future climate change impacts. One of the most important roles of the Australian Government is to provide national climate change science and adaptation information to guide decision-making.

Emissions/ pollution reduction, fossil fuel transition

By 2030: 60–80% emissions cuts on 2000 levels*

By 2040: net zero pollution

$500m to establish a new energy authority RenewAustralia to: plan and drive transition to clean energy, to leverage $5b of construction in new energy generation over 4 years; and work with CSIRO, ARENA, CEFC and energy companies for innovation, commercial deployment and export of clean technology

$250m Clean Energy Transition Fund to assist coal workers and communities

Implement pollution intensity standards to enable the gradual, staged closure of coal-fired power stations, starting with the dirtiest (Hazlewood)

Market-based trading scheme, with coal and gas exporters to pay the full cost of greenhouse gases that leak from mining operations, no more free permits

Establish independent auditing taskforce to determine the gap between State government-secured rehabilitation bonds and the actual cost of mine rehabilitation

Secure rehabilitation money from mining companies into a Federal Trust Fund now to provide transition employment for mine workers in mine rehabilitation and cover the cost of rehabilitation

No new coal mines and unconventional gas

Make coal miners pay the full 39 cent/litre excise on fuel instead of getting it tax-free, saving $6b per year

Impose a thermal coal export levy of $3 per tonne for coal exported to countries without an effective price on pollution, raising $650m per year to fund transition to clean energy, natural disaster preparedness and recovery, and climate finance for developing nations

By 2030: 45% reduction in carbon pollution on 2005 levels*, the minimum required to remain below two degrees of warming

By 2050: net zero pollution

Decarbonisation pathway with five year pledge and review to assess progress

Industry-wide framework for modernisation of and orderly transition from coal-fired power stations that:

  • considers the emissions intensity of each plant and reliability and affordability of supply in the market,
  • will not use taxpayer money to pay companies to withdraw from the market
  • takes a market-based approach to place responsibility of costs on industry
  • ensures a ‘just transition’ for workers and communities, coordinated by a new Just Transition Unit, with a regional approach to employment impacts and economic diversification

Emissions trading scheme:
Phase 1 2018–2020 to align with Kyoto Protocol
Phase 2 2020 onwards to cap and reduce emissions of large polluters in line with Paris agreement

Abolish Abbott/Turnbull Government’s Direct Action policies (ie Emissions Reduction Fund)

$300m Strategic Industries Taskforce and Reserve Fund to undertake in-depth engagement with emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries and identify options to support future competitiveness and support transition of key industries

Introduce a Domestic Gas National Interest Test for new liquefied natural gas facilities to ensure that all economic costs and benefits, including those impacting manufacturers, are considered when assessing LNG project expansions

Six-point plan for Australian Metals Manufacturing and Jobs to secure the long-term future of local metal industries, including: ensure Australian standards are upheld and locally-produced steel is used in federal government funded projects, halve the thresholds for projects required to have an Australian Industry Participation Plan (AIP) to drive more opportunities for local businesses, double funding for AIP Authority and appoint an AIP board, ensure Australia’s anti-dumping system has the right powers and penalties, and create a National Steel Supplier Advocate

By 2020: 5% reduction below 2000 levels*

By 2030: 26–28% emissions reduction based on 2005 levels*

$2.55b to incentivise business to reduce their emissions through our Emissions Reduction Fund (expanded from the Carbon Farming Initiative in 2014), under which the Australian Government purchases emissions reductions from companies through a reverse auction administered by the Clean Energy Regulator; projects include revegetation, capturing fugitive emissions, using biogas from organic waste to generate renewable electricity, and bushfire control

By 2030: 40% improvement in energy productivity (ie the amount of energy used for every dollar of economic activity) under the National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP)

By 2036: 85% reduction in emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol

Renewable energy

By 2030: 90% of energy generated from renewable sources, reversing current reliance on fossil fuels from 84% of our energy mix today

By 2030: double our energy efficiency (ie use half the electricity we currently use to achieve the same results) to cope with projected energy use increase from 247 TWH now to 358 TWh in 2030

Democratisation and decentralisation of energy system, renewing old, centralised and dirty energy infrastructure to a smart, shared and affordable system, through roof-top solar panels, battery storage, solar thermal and off-river pumped hydro systems, and removing network companies as monopoly gatekeepers of the grid

Support continued operation of LRET and SRES (large and small scale renewable energy schemes)

RenewAustralia to conduct reverse auctions to mobilise investment in renewable energy projects, with tens of thousands of jobs in design and construction of new renewable energy generation

By 2030: grow roof-top solar from 5 884 GWh today to between 25 800 GWh and 39 700 GWh

Introduce a 50% refundable tax credit to assist with the cost of household solar energy storage (battery) systems, a grant scheme for those on low incomes, supporting up to 1.2 million homes over five years and 30 000 businesses over four years, funded by savings from the reform of accelerated depreciation concessions for fossil fuels intensive industries

By 2030: 50% of electricity sourced from renewable energy

$206.6m to ARENA for Concentrated Solar Thermal

Conduct an Electricity Modernisation Review of the National Electricity Market

By 2030: double Australia’s energy productivity to reduce pollution, reduce energy costs for households and businesses, and drive growth in the national economy

$98.7m over 4 years to develop a Community Power Network and regional hubs

By 2030: Australian government to purchase 50% renewable energy through Purchase Power Agreements

$300m funding for Strategic Industries Task Force to maximise job opportunities from clean technology

Separate emissions trading scheme for electricity sector to apply downward pressure on power prices

Support continued operation of LRET and SRES (large and small scale renewable energy schemes)

Support roof-top solar panel installation and battery storage technology

Strong renewable energy targets will give investors confidence

By 2020: more than 23% of Australia’s electricity will come from renewable energy under the Renewable Energy Target, supporting large scale projects, and making solar more affordable for households

Refocused the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to drive innovation in clean energy technologies and create the jobs of the future

$1b Clean Energy Innovation Fund to encourage new technology to assist in the transition to clean energy, targeting projects such as large-scale solar

Delivering a $350m solar strategy, and $100m for deployment of new large-scale solar projects, with 22 projects being assessed by ARENA

Australia has joined with the United States, China and 17 other countries in seeking to double investment in clean energy innovation over the next five years through the Mission Innovation initiative

See also NEPP under Emissions reduction

Transport, infrastructure, buildings, cities

$10b over four years as the first instalment in a ten year $25b commitment to prioritise public transport over more urban mega-roads, including:

  • $1bn for Sydney light rail connections
  • $1bn for Airport Rail in Melbourne
  • $500m for MAX Light Rail in Perth
  • $500m for the AdeLINK tram network
  • $82m for Hobart Light Rail
  • $2bn for Brisbane Cross River Rail
  • $400m for Canberra Light Rail stage 2
  • $500m for bus operators to upgrade fleets with hybrid or electric buses
  • $200m invested in local manufacturing of light rail vehicles by contributing up to half the cost of state and territory government purchases of new trams manufactured in Australia

$250m per year Active Transport Fund for cycling and walking infrastructure, and inclusion of active transport infrastructure in the federal transport plan at all three levels of government

Fast track high speed rail

$500m additional funding to shift freight onto rail through new freight lines

$250m additional funding in arterial road works to maximise efficient traffic flow and enable better bus services to suburban and outer-urban communities

$201m in infrastructure and fleet grants, and five years’ worth of free registration for new fully electric vehicles to accelerate uptake of clean electric vehicle technologies by consumers, businesses and government

Increase luxury car tax to 50% for conventional fossil fuel vehicles over $100 000

Include firms involved in electric vehicle manufacturing in the government’s Automotive Transformation Scheme to grow the jobs and skills in the new electric vehicle industry

The financing for our transport funding package comes from the Greens’ Australian Infrastructure Bank facility, which will provide a long-term revenue plan and decouple long-range infrastructure financing from the annual budget cycle, increasing investment in infrastructure by up to $75b

Make savings by redirecting unspent funds allocated for polluting toll roads, including WestConnex and Perth Freight Link, and by reversing the Abbott-era privatisation agenda to reinvest the ‘asset recycling’ fund toward infrastructure built in the public interest

The Greens propose an infrastructure project selection model that would make the political dimensions of any decisions transparent, project proposals to be evaluated by Infrastructure Australia

Implement new emissions standards for motor vehicles

$1b contribution to planning and construction of Metronet for Perth

$500m to kick start AdeLINK tram network for Adelaide

$175m to unclog freight rail bottlenecks at Port Botany, aiming to take 300 000 trucks off the road each year by shifting containers to rail, subject to Infrastructure Australia assessment

Broaden Infrastructure Australia’s role to include new assessment criteria of smart infrastructure and sustainability, with $10b financing facility to broker infrastructure projects, and jumpstart projects including Cross River Rail project in Brisbance, ‘G’ Light Rail on the Gold Coast, Perth Metronet, Gawler Line electrification

Establish a High Speed Rail Authority to work through a process for gathering international expressions of interest over the construction of a high speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra

$1.25m for the Australian Bicycle Council to ensure ongoing development of a national cycling strategy, funding under Turnbull government is due to end in December 2016

10 point plan for productive, sustainable and liveable cities, comprises:

  • Investing in properly integrated transport systems involving public transport and roads
  • Investing in active transport solutions which connect up with public transport, education and employment hubs;
  • Addressing housing affordability through the use of urban planning, land supply and use of incentives;
  • Aligning greater housing density with public transport corridors;
  • Promoting jobs growth in outer suburbs. This could be through direct investment such as Badgerys Creek Airport and Moorebank Intermodal project, or by giving consideration to incentives for location of business;
  • Promoting jobs growth in middle rings around cities by investing in research precincts around universities and hospitals;
  • Supporting connectivity and productivity through fibre-to-the-premise National Broadband Network;
  • Supporting renewable energy including buildings and precincts that produce their own power in new developments;
  • Enhancing sustainability and resilience of household and industrial water supply and rehabilitating our urban waterways which for too long were used for industrial waste;
  • Cooperation between Governments to promote the development of second or third CBDs to decentralise jobs growth.

Support policies that reduce per capita environmental impacts in our cities, including more efficient building design

Established a ministerial forum to explore options for improving the fuel efficiency of Australia’s vehicle fleet, including consideration of Euro 6 standards, improved fuel quality standards and measures to increase the fuel efficiency of light vehicles. The outcome will be a detailed plan to reduce vehicle emissions and help consumers lower the cost of running their vehicles. The Emissions Reduction Fund (see Emissions reduction) offers opportunities to improve the efficiency of heavy vehicles in Australia, and further work is being progressed internationally on heavy vehicle efficiency through the G20 Transportation Task Group.

Investing in important public transport projects, including the $95m Gold Coast Light Rail, the Sydney Metro and the Melbourne Metro to improve access, amenity and liveability

Commitment to the Murray Basin Inland Rail will transform freight movements through Victoria, NSW and South East Queensland and stimulate growth and prosperity in these regions

Infrastructure Australia has delivered the first ever 15 Year National Infrastructure Plan

Actions under the NEPP (see Emissions reduction) include expanding the successful Commercial Building Disclosure program to cover mid-size buildings, expanding National Australian Built Environment Rating System tools, and working on new standards under the National Construction Code, working with industry leaders to improve performance, and finalising a new strategy on Government energy use

Expanding the National Carbon Offset Standard so that precincts, cities and buildings can be certified as carbon neutral

Agriculture, forestry, land/natural resource management, conservation

$20m over three years for wood products industries, with a plan for plantation-based industry, and research and development to promote innovation, efficiency and sustainability in plantation wood and fibre production and processing

$3m seed funding to contribute to the establishment of a national farm forestry cooperative for farmers

Development of a comprehensive plan for the management of our forests, ensuring the long-term economic future for regional communities

Reinstate the ICT Sustainability Plan requirement for government paper to be 100% recycled that the Abbott/Turnbull Government did not act on

Require Forests Stewardship Council (FSC)^ certification for all wood and paper products purchased by federal government agencies

Native forest protections package to be announced, to facilitate transition of logging from native forests

Work with stakeholders to develop an appropriate “trigger” in federal environmental protection laws to cover Australia’s national and international commitments around climate change

Require the adoption of consistent reporting of land and tree clearing across States and the Commonwealth

Reinvigorate the COAG National Vegetation Management Framework

Reinvigorate the Carbon Farming Initiative to store carbon in agriculture

Establish independent Office of Animal Welfare and $1m/year for Inspector-General of Animal Welfare

Renew Australian Animal Welfare Strategy with states and territories

Review Export Supply Chain Assurance System

$200m over five years to double the number of Indigenous rangers in the Working on Country program for environmental management, cultural conservation and tackling Indigenous disadvantage

See ‘Emissions Reduction Fund’ under Emissions/pollution reduction

$360m over four years (from July 2015) for 500 Green Army teams aged 17–24 years to continue delivering environmental projects in their communities

$1b for natural resource management through the National Landcare Programme, including support for Landcare Networks, $50m to plant 20 million trees by 2020, and support for 56 regional NRM organisations

Appointed Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner and launched Australia’s first Threatened Species Strategy (2015) including targeting feral cats, and $30m Threatened Species Recovery Hub under the $142.5m National Science Environmental Science Programme (NESP) (see Scientific research for details), with $80m already invested

Established (2013) a One-Stop Shop for environmental assessments with every state and territory, maintaining environmental standards whilst reducing the red tape, cutting the double handling of assessments for projects species outcomes

Great Barrier Reef

Use the $6b per year saved by making coal miners pay the full 39 cent/litre excise on fuel to fund high-tech water quality projects, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute for Marine Science for the long-term health of the reef

$500m Great Barrier Reef Plan for collaborative approach to address all the pressure facing the reef, including improving research and monitoring through the CSIRO, direct environmental investment, and improving reef management

Implement recommendations of the May 2016 Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce report

$2b over 10 years for the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan, implementation began in 2015, including: banning capital dredge disposal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park ending a 100-year-old practice; projects that include improving water quality, reducing pesticide, sediment and nitrogen run off, removing crown of thorns starfish and improving our scientific knowledge of the reef, tough laws against poaching of turtles and dugongs, improved sustainability agreements with Indigenous communities and local land managers

Scientific research, policy advice, adaptation

By 2030: Double the number of paid firefighters: $120m over the first four years, ramping up over the next 10 years from an additional $25m per year in 2016–17 to $200m per year by 2025–26, with further increases to 2030. In the first year, the Greens’ plan would more than double the current federal contribution to firefighting resources ($18m in 2014–15) to $43m per year in total

Increase of $200m for a new National Partnership Agreement on Climate Adaptation and Disaster Preparedness: $50m per year for the first four years (a more than fivefold increase on the current funding of $9m per year), gradually ramping up to $200m per year, meeting the Productivity Commission’s recommendation

$50m over five years for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) to continue (funding due to expire in 2017), including: improving and trialling the decision-support tool CoastAdapt to improve local planning; helping Australia’s Asia Pacific neighbours like Indonesia and PNG who are exposed to sea level rise to make good planning decisions, reducing the risk of severe displacement and disruption in the future; and continuing to work with rural and regional communities on issues such as water security and bushfire risk

$5m per year for a new national coordinating body, the Office for Climate Adaptation and Sea Level Rise to support State, Territory and local governments to plan for rising seas. The office would lead ongoing assessments of the long-term implications of larger-than-expected sea level rise, including the concept of “planned retreat”.

$17.4m over 3 years to reverse the Abbott Government’s abolition of the independent, expert-led Climate Change Authority

$142.5m National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) is being delivered through six research hubs:

  • $8.88m Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub supports environmental quality in urban areas through the University of Melbourne
  • $23.9m Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub is furthering our understanding of the drivers of Australia’s climate through the CSIRO
  • $23.88m Marine Biodiversity Hub is researching Australian oceans and marine environments, including temperate coastal water quality and marine species, through the University of Tasmania
  • $23.88m Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub is supporting the sustainable development of our northern landscapes through Charles Darwin University
  • $29.98m Threatened Species Recovery Hub is supporting the management of threats and improving recovery of threatened species through the University of Queensland
  • $31.98m Tropical Water Quality Hub is researching coastal water quality and coastal management focused on the Great Barrier Reef and other tropical waters through the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre

$9m committed to the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF). This facility will produce CoastAdapt, an online tool to help local governments and other decision-makers plan for sea level rise and other coastal risks. The facility is also producing essential information to support adaptation planning for Australia’s ecosystems, settlements and infrastructure, economy and institutions, and vulnerable communities.

$200m pledged over four years to the Green Climate Fund to support developing countries to grow their economies in a sustainable way and help adapt to climate change; more broadly, Australia is working with partner countries to build their capacity to take domestic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, backed by a commitment to spend at least $1b in climate finance over the next five years

* The actual amount of emissions indicated by a percentage reduction depends on the base year that the reduction is being compared to. Australia’s total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (excluding land use change) increased from 483 445.83 Gt in 2000 to 518 850.76 Gt in 2005. Thus a reduction of 60% on 2000 levels (proposed by the Greens) would have Australia emitting approximately 193 378 Gt in 2030, a reduction of 45% on 2005 levels (proposed by Labor) would have Australia emitting approximately 285 367 Gt in 2030, and a reduction of 28% on 2005 levels (proposed by the Coalition) would have Australia emitting approximately 373 572 Gt in 2030. (Source of emissions data: National Greenhouse Gas Inventory

^ Forests Stewardship Council (FSC) certification protects biodiversity, climate and water, whereas Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) certification (the Australian version of the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC)) is an industry self-approval which allows industrial native forest logging practices like clearfell logging of old growth forests. The WWF withdrew support for the AFS on the grounds of inadequate governance arrangements, standards setting procedures and certification assessment requirements. No native forest logging operations on public land in Australia have FSC certification. In contrast, most Australian plantations have FSC certification. (Source: Securing a sustainable future for Australia’s wood products industries, The Greens



Australian Greens website

Renew Australia

An economy in transition: caring for coal workers: The Green’s plan for guaranteeing a future for coal mine workers

Living reefs, dying coal: After coal: the clean economy: protecting the jobs of the future from an industry of the past

Building our clean transport future: Infrastructure to reduce pollution and get us moving: clean, connected, liveable cities and communities

Living with global warming: backing firefighters and communities: preparing for fires, droughts, rising seas, extreme weather


Australian Labor Party website

Overview of climate change policies

Climate Change Action Plan Policy Paper


Liberal Party website

The Australian Government’s action on climate change

Protecting our environment

Emissions Reduction Fund

Carbon Farming Initiative project transition into the Emissions Reduction Fund

National Landcare Programme

National Energy Productivity Plan

Green Army

Threatened Species Strategy

Highlights of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan

Building Australia’s Infrastructure

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