Last week, Independent member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, introduced her Climate Change Bill to Federal Parliament.

Ms Stegall requested that the Bill be referred to Committee, in order to recognise the importance of a bipartisan approach to long term climate policy. The House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy has now opened a public inquiry into the Bill with submissions closing on Friday 27 November. So not long to get your feedback in.

“This will be the first parliamentary inquiry into why Australia should commit and legislate Net-Zero by 2050. It will also examine why the legal framework proposed in the Climate Change Bill will assist every sector in assessing the risks, adaptation and resilience planning that is needed,” Ms Steggall said.

“I encourage all businesses, organisations and individuals to make a submission to the inquiry so that we can demonstrate to Government and Parliament the need to legislate Net-Zero by 2050.”

The Bill is modeled on existing legislation in Britain, New Zealand and Ireland. If passed, it would require the Government to set a rolling emissions budget and introduce risk assessment and adaptation plans, establish an independent climate change commission and incorporate the Government’s technology investment roadmap. 

Members of the Brisbane-based group Workers for Climate Justice (W4CJ) support the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and thank Ms Steggall for her work. 

The Morrison government has indicated it does not support the Bill. The opposition has welcomed Ms Steggall’s effort to progress climate action and will continue to engage with her about her Climate Change Bill. 

The Bill specifies the basic National actions required to change current climate trajectories and to try to keep the planet below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

The W4CJ response to the Bill is outlined below.

Objectives and long-term emissions reduction commitment:

  • Australia needs to commit to emissions to Net Zero by 2050. This Bill, with its cornerstone target for 2050 and its scaffolding of implementation mechanisms brings us in line with other nations. The commitment has to be global, and our disregard for global efforts to specify and implement global emissions reduction targets has set Australia back nationally and internationally for the last decade. This Bill rectifies that and aligns us with the international effort on the climate emergency.
  • The narrative that Australia’s economy will suffer is misguided. Australia will suffer hugely without climate action on 2 fronts: through market forces as the global economy decarbonises and resulting missed opportunities in the next leap forward into whole new energy, industry, agriculture and transport systems, and also in the enormous costs of extreme weather events. Unlike COVID, where we do not have a vaccine, with climate change Australia has renewable energies ‘to burn’. We can move on from fossil fuels and we need a transition process to ensure this happens with minimal disruption to our economy and to reduce weather-related emergencies. 

Why legislating Net-Zero by 2050 and regular 5-year budgets is important:

  • These targets are global and national imperatives, and having them in legislation would strengthen government commitment to this long-term objective. Short-term interference on emissions reduction targets cannot be allowed to happen, and this broad target, allowing for five-yearly interim targets, should be the cornerstone for directing our efforts to decarbonise nationally.  

Guiding principles to be applied:

  • The guiding principles are essential for implementing the intent of the Act. These principles would  ensure social, economic, environmental, and governance arrangements for acting on climate change in a way to promote a just, fair, and timely transition. The guiding principles provide a surety for future generations who are presently voiceless. 
  • Ecological sustainability must be the core principle: nine of our 15 global ecosystems are at 50% of their survivability. 
  • Fairness in the transition process for workers and their communities must be a core principle. Fairness includes a focus on resource regions, and their participation in the next economy, or on appropriate compensation and assistance as needed.  

Risk and adaptation assessments for all sectors:

  • The Bill outlines implementation mechanisms for transitioning us into a re-set of all our systems. Risk Assessments and adaptation plans by all part of our economy, government, and the community, must become standard practice. Climate policies should be a governance requirement for every entity.

Technology readiness assessment:

  • Technology Readiness Assessments are an essential tool for decarbonising our economy and developing effective energy, transport, health, and education services for the future. Emerging technologies must be fully reviewed for their benefits and risks, including identifying who may be vulnerable to displacement or disadvantage through their use. 

Independent climate change commission and skills needed on the commission:

  • We must act with fairness, and the Bill must specify who should be at the table of the Independent Advisory Commission on Climate Change.  Independence is crucial, and it must be resourced to enable it to monitor, audit and report annually to Parliament on progress and to recommend interventions where interim goals are not being delivered on. 

We encourage others to make submissions. 

To read more on the submission process, click HERE

Contributed by Mary Maher and Amanda Ross for W4CJ