Labor's carbon target stacks up: Burke

Labor's Tony Burke says the party shouldn't dump its ambitious carbon emissions reduction target.
Labor's Tony Burke says the party shouldn't dump its ambitious carbon emissions reduction target.

Federal Labor should not dump its ambitious target to cut Australia's carbon emissions by 45 per cent, the party's environment spokesman Tony Burke says.

However, Mr Burke says the party needs to go back to the drawing board on how it would reach the goal, after the coalition's convincing election victory.

Labor had gone to the polls promising to create a cap-and-trade system for industrial polluters, by extending a scheme introduced under former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Under the proposal, the 250 biggest polluters would have been required to cut their emissions or buy credits to offset emissions above a baseline level, which could be purchased through international markets.

Labor is reviewing all of its policies after losing Saturday's national vote.

Mr Burke says they won't waver from their target to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, because doing so would be disregarding science.

"The planet is not going to turn up and say, 'Let's have a compromise, there will be less climate change and we'll cut a deal'," he told ABC TV on Thursday.

But how Labor plans to reach the target will have to change, he argues, with Australians or the parliament rejecting Labor's climate tactics for the past 12 years.

"We now need to be at the table of working through what are the other ways of reaching targets, beyond simply saying we'll have a market mechanism."

Despite every economic theory showing that a market mechanism is the most efficient way to deal with the issue, Mr Burke says Labor might now need to consider a "direct action" approach.

That's the approach being taken by the coalition, which has committed $3.5 billion to a range of emission reduction policies over the coming decade.

"There are a series of problems with their design," Mr Burke said.

The coalition has a 26 per cent emissions reduction target on 2005 levels by 2030, which it is confident it can achieve despite emissions increasing in recent years.

Australian Associated Press