National

Labor MP’s speech stokes climate tension

By AAP Newswire

A Labor frontbencher's call to match the Morrison government's carbon emissions target has exposed divisions within the party on climate change policy.

Opposition resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon believes Labor should aim for a 28 per cent reduction of 2005 emissions by 2030, in line with the higher end of the coalition's target.

The opposition went to the federal election this year with a 45 per cent carbon emissions reduction target, while the government set a 26 to 28 per cent reduction goal.

"Labor needs to reach a sensible settlement on climate change. How many times are we going to let it kill us? Indeed, how many leaders do we want to lose to it," Mr Fitzgibbon will tell the Sydney Institute on Wednesday night.

He says emissions are rising every year under the Morrison government, arguing the case to work with the coalition to deliver a 28 per cent reduction.

"The prime minister has largely avoided scrutiny and accountability on this subject because all the focus has been on Labor's more ambitious targets."

A less ambitious target would allow Labor to be "more ambitious on the road to 2050", he says.

But Labor's climate change spokesman Mark Butler slapped down the proposal, telling media outlets it would breach Australia's Paris climate change agreements.

He said the government's targets were dreamed up by former prime minister Tony Abbott and if adopted worldwide would lead to global warming of three degrees.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese also weighed in, saying he was proud Labor had consistently supported strong action on climate change based on science.

"That action will not only protect our environment but is also good for our economy," he tweeted.

Labor backbencher Peter Khalil, whose seat of Wills is in Melbourne's inner-north, also warned against watering down climate change commitments.

"I know that my electorate wants action on climate change, wants to actually tackle this problem," he told Sky.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor was keen to capitalise on the split.

"Labor went to the last election with a 45 per cent emission reduction target which was going to slash jobs, slash wages and slash the economy," he told reporters in Sydney.

"The are clearly now recognising the error of their ways, but they're in chaos. There are different points of view coming out from different people in Labor every day."

Greens MP Adam Bandt said Mr Fitzgibbon was a Labor factional warlord and usually got his way within the party.

"What you've heard from Joel Fitzgibbon today is what Labor will do if it wins the next election," he told reporters.

Mr Fitzgibbon copped a hefty swing away from him at the last election in his NSW regional seat of Hunter, a significant coal mining region.