Confused by different parties' climate policies? This will help

For many of us, comparing different election policies can be confusing, laborious and overwhelming. We want to be good stewards of our vote, but can get lost in the detail and easily swayed by political propaganda.

So, as Eternity readers approach the upcoming federal election and consider how to cast their ballot, we have asked Thea Omerod, President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, to walk us all through the various parties’ policies on climate.

An honest look at climate policies for Election 2022

‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ These precious words are from the prayer given to us by Jesus himself. As we approach the coming Federal Election, we Christians can help bring about the Kingdom by giving thought to how we vote and what policies we advocate for.

In this article, I will attempt to honestly examine how well the policies of the major political parties align with widely accepted Christian values in two climate-related areas. It risks appearing partisan, but here’s why I believe it remains important.

Why try this?

I agree that it is a misstep when Christians align themselves closely with a political party or politician. One of the clearest current examples is the Russian Orthodox Church endorsing Putin’s claim on Ukraine.

I also agree that no politician or group of politicians aligns perfectly with the Christian message.

What is not true, even if sounds worldly-wise, is that ‘there’s no real difference between the major parties’ or that ‘all politicians are all the same’. There are real differences and a responsible, caring citizen will take the time to understand them.

Why prioritise voting on climate policy when there are other important areas of policy for Christians such as reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, more and better Overseas Aid, homelessness and refugee rights?

Without a stable life-sustaining climate, other problems will be much more difficult to solve in the medium to long-term. The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report offers the most comprehensive and compelling case ever for robust action to be taken in this decade, starting now.

For Christians and other people of faith, conserving the earth’s climate is a pro-life issue. Without a stable climate, life as we know it will not be possible. It is also a matter of compassion towards the poor and marginalised, on whom the impacts fall most heavily but who have few resources to cope.

See the Eternity Election 2022 page for resources regarding a range of social issues.

Emission reduction targets

There are critical differences in the priority given to climate by each of the major parties and groups of candidates. Nothing symbolises this quite so starkly as their chosen emissions reduction targets for 2030.

For a baseline, the Climate Council recommends that: “Australia should aim to reduce emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035.”

Certain Christian networks and organisations have offered surprisingly similar goals for the major parties specifically for this election, based on their understanding of the Christian message.

Statements by a network of Christian leaders organised by the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, the Uniting Church and a Catholic Justice and Peace network all propose a reduction target of around 50 per cent at a minimum. (The Uniting Church also suggests working towards a target closer to 70 per cent.)

The multi-faith organisation to which I belong, ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change) advocates for the same target.

For the reader’s appraisal, the following are the emissions reduction targets on 2005 levels of the major parties and groups of candidates. (From here on, by the ‘independents’ I mean ‘Voices Of’ and ‘Climate 200-backed’ candidates.)

  • Coalition – 26 – 28 per cent by 2030
  • Labor – 43 per cent by 2030
  • Greens – Net Zero or Net Negative (100 per cent or more) by 2035 or sooner
  • Independents – varies but  Zali Steggall, Helen Haines and Rebekha Sharkie seek 60 per cent emissions reduction by 2030.

Under the Paris Accord as revised in Glasgow, participating countries (including Australia) have committed to reviewing these targets annually with a view to increasing them. The Coalition has already rejected the possibility of following through on this commitment.

Support for workers in coal and gas industries

The need to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy has raised concern among Christians for another group that stands to lose: workers in the coal and gas industries who are being displaced.

An economic transformation is inexorably underway, but instead of it being ad hoc and leaving whole communities behind, Christians and other people of goodwill want government policies to make it fair, planned and publicly supported.

To assist with making comparisons, the following is a succinct outline of the relevant policies of the major parties and climate-interested independents.

Coalition – proactively pursues continuity for coal and gas industries. Their Technology Investment Roadmap refers regularly to creating jobs in regional areas, however the main focus is on research and development of certain new technologies rather than support for an orderly transition.

Labor – understands that there are many more jobs in renewables and low carbon industries and plans to use regulations and public money to build these up. (See ALP website.)

Greens – will work with communities to find industries that will provide meaningful, long-term jobs as the economy changes. They plan to reskill workers into similar industries, and provide grants to help new employers get off the ground. (See Greens Climate Platform.)

Independents – are broadly supportive of a just transition for coal and gas dependent communities. See, for example, Helen Haines’ Issue Paper – Climate Change.

Moving to 100% renewable energy

For years, Christians have been advocating for the transformation of our energy systems such that we depend on 100 per cent renewable electricity. How well do the various parties do in this regard?


  • Continues to fund low emissions technologies through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, but ‘will look to the private sector to lead investment’ in solar and wind. (Source: Technology Investment Roadmap)
  • The Government’s Renewable Energy Target of 20 per cent was reached in 2020, but there are no plans to revise the RET.
  • Has committed $2.1 billion to partner with industry to support the uptake of electric vehicles.


  • Plans to legislate 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
  • Has committed to using regulations and public money to boost the up-take of electric vehicles (EVs), invest $20 billion to rebuild and modernise the grid so it can manage more renewable energy, install 400 community batteries, and so on. (Source: ALP website).


  • Plans to get to 100 per cent of electricity demand generated by renewables ASAP; then get to 700 per cent through public investment, feed-in tariffs and regulations to support renewable energy infrastructure.


  • Independents have a long-standing commitment to public investment and regulations to develop clean energy infrastructure.
An invitation

At the next Election, I share with many others the hope that voters elect decision-makers who can steer our nation to a safer climate future.

But whether this hope is realised or not, our role as Christians in the long-term is to help shift the culture of this country so that robust climate action receives bipartisan support, as it does in a number of other countries. Let’s encourage our communities and our federal MPs to give greater priority towards re-balancing the climate, regardless of who wins power.

For more detail on the climate-related policies of the various parties, I have put together this summary available via ARRCC’s website.

Thea is a Catholic Christian, a retired social worker, grandmother and climate justice advocate. She has long been involved in a range of social justice issues, mainly concerning global poverty. Established in 2007, ARRCC is a multi-faith Charity working for a safe climate in which all of life can flourish.