23/11/2017 11:53 AM AEDT | Updated 23/11/2017 11:53 AM AEDT

Why Climate Change Is A Key Issue In The Queensland Election

I have no doubt that every Queenslander wants the Great Barrier Reef to be there for future generations.

Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media

Too often commentators fail to recognise climate change and nature are critical concerns in the minds of voters when they head to the ballot box. But the Queensland election is once again proving these are vote-changing issues.

We are currently witnessing an intense campaign, with the debate about whether we will continue to enjoy a safe climate and thriving planet at its heart -- Adani's dirty coal mine project being no exception.

The problem is that in the world of the Tim Nicholls-led LNP you can apparently save the Great Barrier Reef and cut greenhouse gas emissions by building a new coal-fired power station and allowing massive land clearing.

I have no doubt that every Queenslander wants the Great Barrier Reef to be there for future generations. But as we endlessly equivocate on ways to save the reef, it is suffering a slow death under our watch.

While two consecutive bleaching events hit the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017, Queensland continues to export more than 60 million tonnes of thermal coal every year.

Governments need to be agile and adaptive, and capitalise on the natural advantages of the Sunshine State.

If the Galilee Basin is opened by Adani's massive dirty coal mine and other projects, it has the potential to add more than 700 million tonnes of climate pollution to the atmosphere each year of its operational life. Enough to cook the Great Barrier Reef.

The idea that taxpayers might help this environmental disaster with a Commonwealth loan is an affront to both transparent government and all future generations of Australians. To use public funds to underwrite the private destruction of our climate, clean water and precious reef is indefensible.

On climate, land clearing and now a loan to Adani there are major points of difference between the major parties.

While the Palaszczuk Government wrongly supports the mine, it has ruled out any state funding for the Carmichael rail line or support for a Commonwealth loan. A Nicholls-led LNP not only supports the mine, it has vowed to provide ongoing support for the coal industry and support the opening of the Galilee Basin with taxpayer dollars.

On clean energy, the LNP is devoid of any ambition and has vowed to scrap Queensland's existing targets, whereas the Palaszczuk Government has committed to delivering 50 percent of Queensland's energy from the sun and the wind by 2030.

The Palaszczuk Government's innovative clean energy projects include solar-hydro hybrid systems in abandoned mine sites. In stark contrast, a new coal-fired power station of dubious economic merit appears to be the LNP's answer to the Sunshine State's future energy needs.

The LNP also appears happy to continue Queensland's appalling track record as one of the world's worst offenders for deforestation.

It is a national disgrace that more than 1 million hectares of Queensland forests and woodlands have been cleared in four years under the Newman Government's changes to vegetation laws. This legacy includes approvals to clear around 70,000 hectares of native forest within catchments of the Great Barrier Reef and the habitat for many threatened species including koalas.

While the Palaszczuk Government has vowed to again try to fix Queensland's land clearing laws, the Nicholls-led LNP is perfectly happy to see more critical habitat for our wildlife destroyed. The promise by the LNP to plant 3 million trees is like reaching for a band aid when you just lost your leg.

Sadly, the prognosis for Queensland's environment should the LNP form government is grim.

Queensland can prosper without destroying our forests, rivers and reefs. Governments need to be agile and adaptive, and capitalise on the natural advantages of the Sunshine State.

The parties need to respond because increasing numbers of people from diverse walks of life are speaking out in support of our clean air, clean water and liveable planet.

Climate change is the single-most important issue facing our planet and will remain so for decades. Coal is tired and toxic energy and the way of the future is innovation, adaptation and new jobs in the expanding clean energy sector.

These are truths that all parties in the Queensland election must recognise. If only because increasing numbers of Queensland voters do.