National

Parties battle in climate change election

By AAP Newswire

When Australians head to the polls on Saturday they won't just be met with a sausage sizzle, but may come face-to-face with climate protesters.

This year's political battle has been dubbed the climate change election, with independent candidates using inaction on the issue to propel their campaigns against incumbent MPs.

Olympian Zali Steggall has emerged as a serious contender for the NSW seat of Warringah against Tony Abbott, vowing to take strong action on climate change if she wins on May 18.

And it's an issue which has fuelled the political drive of Australians who can't yet vote, with multiple school strikes for climate change, including a global day of action where more than one million students took part.

The protesting students will target polling booths across the nation on Saturday, putting pressure on adults to vote for the climate.

Climate change has been one of the most Googled election issues, although it momentarily dipped for a few days when Adani became the most searched topic.

Despite climate and energy policy took the scalp of his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made note of climate change in the Liberal Party's official campaign launch on Sunday.

But he made sure to give a nod to those more concerned with the health of the economy.

He spruiked the coalition's $3.5 billion climate solutions package, which includes money for Snowy Hydro 2.0 and reverse auctions for abatement programs through a climate solutions fund.

However, emissions have been rising since the policy was introduced.

"We are doing our bit as we should as a global citizen, but I'm not going to do it and put our kids economic future at risk," he said.

The coalition has focused the climate debate on the cost it will have on businesses, although an accurate figure has evaded both parties.

Mr Morrison has used modelling from former government economist Brian Fisher to say Labor's policies could shrink the nation's economic growth by 0.8 per cent.

But left-leaning think-tank, the Australia Institute, compared the modelling to 22 other reports, finding it to be an outlier.

Labor has more ambitious renewable energy and emissions reduction targets compared to the coalition, and are planning to abolish the government's signature climate solutions fund.

The opposition says this will save $448 million over four years, which will instead be part of the more than $1 billion invested in other climate policies.

Although questions over the cost of Labor's climate plans have hounded Mr Shorten throughout the campaign, he has shielded major damage by focusing on the price of inaction.

"Australia's political adults have yet again failed the future so we're really interested in taking action on climate change," he told high school students on the NSW Central Coast on Monday.