Australia’s Labor Party has ended a decade of dominance by conservatives in an election that political analysts believe to have been swayed by a desire among many voters to see their country tackling climate change and developing a renewable energy potential that many reckon to be world-beating.

The defeat for the Liberal-National coalition government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was not a Labor landslide because support for smaller parties, especially the Greens, also grew significantly.

There were plenty of other issues in play as the election campaign came to a close, especially the rising cost of living, but climate change was the one that Labor leader Anthony Albanese chose to brandish from the victory podium when he sought to strike an optimistic note.

“Together we can end the climate wars. Together we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower,” Albanese said in his victory speech.

The issue of climate change is highly-charged in Canberra because a powerful lobby has little difficulty in convincing Australians that mining and fossil fuels production are key providers of their wealth.

However, devastating bushfires and floods have shown the country to be especially vulnerable to the destructive impacts of climate change.

Albanese was at pains to point out that he is as hawkish as Morrison on issues such as defence and resisting the pressures of a rising China, but he made climate a key difference when convincing voters to reject another conservative administration.

At first sight, Albanese's ambitions on climate action seem relatively modest, including cutting emissions to 43% of 2005 levels by by 2030 and giving this target the force of law through a promised climate change bill.

This compared to the Liberal-National coalition’s goal of a reduction in the 26% to 28% range.

The Labor Party said before the election that its plan regarding energy policy was to “create jobs, cut power bills and reduce emissions by boosting renewable energy”.

Pledges included A$20 billion (US$14 billion) of investment in the nation’s transmission grid to prepare the ground for future opportunities to invest in renewable power generation.

The Australian oil and gas industry held out the olive branch by congratulating Albanese on his victory in the 21 May election, but sent an early message expressing a collective hope that Australian liquefied natural gas will play a vital and lasting role in the energy transition.

Industry association APPEA said: “We urge any new administration to continue to recognise the critical role of gas in the future decarbonised energy mix and the development of our region, as well as focusing policy efforts on improving the competitiveness of the nation’s investment environment.

“We are committed to economy-wide net zero by 2050 and APPEA members are already spending billions of dollars on decarbonisation tools such as carbon capture and storage [CCS] and hydrogen-related technologies.”

The Liberal-National coalition government had been in power for nine years, but was beaten comprehensively in the election.

Labor made no pledges about actually curbing fossil fuels during the election campaign, so Australia's plans for decarbonisation seem to be more likely to increase the focus on mitigation and abatement.

This may change, however. The Greens Party achieved its best ever result and local media reported that a new generation of green and independent members of parliament will push for more aggressive emissions cuts in a country that has often been seen as lagging behind on climate action.

“We will be the most powerful third party in the next parliament,” Greens Party leader Adam Bandt said.

“People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality.

“To the massive group of young people who are demanding climate action, many who voted for the first time and have backed the Greens, I say this: We’ll be there fighting for you inside parliament, today is just a step in the journey we are on together, we will continue to fight and we will win.”

Renewable energy currently accounts for about one-third of national generation, but Labor's election manifesto targeted an 82% share of input to Australia’s main grid by the end of the decade.

Hopes are highest for the new administration when it comes to realising Australia's ambitions of becoming a global player in renewables, especially green hydrogen and ammonia produced from wind and solar power.

Many of these projects are located in Western Australia, including the colossal 50-gigawatt Western Green Energy Hub (WGEH) and the 26-gigawatt Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH).

Backers for these projects so far include InterContinenal Energy, CWP Global, Mirning Green Energy, Macquarie and OEM Vestas.

However, The Australian newspaper reported earlier this month that UK supermajor BP is poised to take a 30% lead developer stake in AREH, which according to Upstream’s sister renewable energy publication Recharge, plans to tap 16 GW of onshore wind and 10 GW of photovoltaic energy for production of renewable hydrogen and ammonia.

Albanese was sworn in as prime minister on 23 May, along with four senior ministers — deputy Richard Marles, Penny Wong in foreign affairs, Jim Chalmers as treasurer and Katy Gallagher in finance.

Local media reported that a third “force” emerged in the election in the shape of independents, mainly women, who won seats on platforms of climate action, integrity and gender equality.