Hope for Australian Climate Policy? The Climate Change Bill 2020

Updated: Apr 1

#ClimateActNow


Independent MP, Zali Steggall, plans to introduce The Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 into federal parliament. The bill aims to provide climate change framework legislation at a National level. This legislation will be game changer for climate policy in Australia… if it becomes law. Here’s what you need to know, and why you should support it.




What Is The Bill?


If passed this Bill would give Australia national binding climate change law. The bill sets out a clear framework for national plans to be put in place and be updated by the Australian Government, and provides transparent monitoring, reporting and accountability.


The proposed Climate Act will mandate:


  • A National Climate Risk Assessment

  • A National Adaptation Program

  • A Net-zero target by 2050, transitioning Australia to a decarbonized economy

  • The establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission



Do other countries have similar legislation?


The bill is based off the UK’s Climate Change Act. Many countries have similar legislation to the Climate Change Bill and are preforming better than Australia at lowering their greenhouse gas emissions.


The United Kingdom adopted theirs in 2008, South Korea in 2010 and New Zealand in 2019. These are just 3 of more than 20 nations that have climate change legislation in place.


What climate legislation does Australia already have?


The Australian government has been criticised for not having effective, overarching climate policy, instead having a “piece-meal approach”.


In Feb 2019, the Australian government announced the $3.5 billion “Climate Solutions Package”, an extension of a previous policy, aimed to reduce the nations emissions. $2 billion of this will pay industry and farmers to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions, through the Climate Solutions Fund, from 2020 to 2030. It is criticised as failing to contribute to any significant emissions reductions.


The Australian government also highlights its use of these policies and projects:


  • Energy Efficiency Measures,

  • Government investment into a “Battery of a Nation” project (new links between Tasmania and mainland),

  • A future Electric Vehicle Strategy,

  • Energy performance (air-conditioning and refrigeration),

  • Previous policies and projects such as Snowy 2.0, and

  • “Technology improvements”.


How is the Bill being promoted?


Zali Staggall is aiming to harness people power for the Climate Change Bill 2020. The MP started a public campaign in favour of the bill called Climate Act Now which has been greatly successful in spreading the word and gaining public support.


When will the Bill be introduced?


This bill was initially planned to be introduced to parliament on 23 March 2020 but was postponed as COVID-19 took precedence in parliament. It is yet to be confirmed when the bill will be presented. Zali Staggall says she is as dedicated as ever to the need of Australia to take urgent and sensible action on climate change and will continue to advocate and lobby for the proposed legislation.


The public campaign to support the bill is still active, giving everyone more time to show support and campaign in favour of the bill.


Why do we need the bill?


1. Australia is not on track to meet its Paris commitments.

2. Australia ranked worst in Climate Policy of all 57 nations included in the Climate Change Performance Index 2020 and in climate change performance overall only 5 nations of the 57 ranked worse.


3. Because the bill includes long-term targets and interim emissions budgets, it would give politicians, businesses, professionals and communities across Australia long-needed clarity and certainty in our path towards carbon neutrality.


4. It is widely recognised that Climate Change has been a toxic and weaponized topic in Australian politics for perhaps the last decade. Framework legislation used overseas has advanced the climate change debate by making it bipartisan and taking the politics out of it.


5. The bill will help get state and federal governments, Australia and the world, and science and politics, on the same page. The zero emissions by 2050 reduction target in the Bill is consistent with State Government policies, Australia’s Paris commitments and the recommendations of the IPCC.


Who Supports the Bill


On the campaign website, signups have been broken down into each electorate, so you and you MP can see how much support there is for the bill in your electorate.


As of time of writing, 30 March 2020, 77,555 people have confirmed their support for the bill.


Many individuals, groups and companies have publicly expressed their support of the bill. A selection of these are listed below.



Expert opinions


  • Ross Garnaut, author of the recent book - Superpower: Australia’s low-carbon opportunity

  • Former Chief Scientist of Australia Dr Penny Sackett

  • Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief who oversaw the negotiation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and convenor of the Mission 2020 climate campaign.

  • Climate Scientist Michael Mann


Climate, Environmental, Humanitarian Groups


  • Climate Council

  • Citizens Climate Lobby

  • Greenpeace

  • Oxfam

  • 2040 Film and Damon Gameau

  • WWF Australia

  • Doctors for the Environment

  • Climate and Health Alliance

  • Global Health Alliance

  • One Million Women

  • Australian Parents for Climate Action

  • Australian Religious Response to Climate Change

  • Catholic Earthcare

  • Climate4Change


Representatives of the Australian Business, Finance and Energy Sector


  • Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes

  • Australian Business Council

  • Australian Energy Council

  • B-Corp

  • Impact Investment Group

  • Energy Savings Industry Association

  • Investor Group for Climate Change


Politicians


  • Kerryn Phelps

  • Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore


Will the Bill be passed?


There’s no doubt, it will be tough for this bill to be made law, with the resistance of the Prime Minister to embrace enhanced climate action and internal conflict within the coalition regarding climate change. However, the bill is well endorsed by representatives from the business, finance and energy sectors, is popular amongst the public, is well designed and politically palatable and is well timed as climate change concern builds among Australians.


It is hoped that a conscience vote will allow MPs to represent their constituents on the matter of climate change, rather than the usual toeing of their party line. The bill hopes to receive bipartisan support.


Staggall has lobbied MPs of both major parties to allow a conscience vote, has locked in the support of her fellow crossbenchers and has called on ‘modern liberals’ to back the Bill.


What needs to happen for the Bill to make it through parliament:


  1. A conscience vote must be allowed.

  2. For the Bill to have a chance, the Prime Minister will need to allow the Bill to be debated.

  3. To get the bill through parliament, the Bill will need the Australian Labor Party's caucus on board and at least 4 conscience votes from moderate Liberals.


Is the Bill strong enough to adequately address climate change?


Climate Council reports that carbon neutrality in Australia by 2050 is not adequate and we must instead reach net-zero emissions before 2040. However, it is widely recognised that this bill is a good fit for Australia right now and is palatable enough to become law. Targets can be increased, and time frames shortened, in line with science, under the Act. It is widely agreed that the bill should be actively pursued, rather than waiting for a ‘better deal’.


Learn more and take action:


Add your name to show support on the Official Site: https://www.climateactnow.com.au/

Find actions you can take to support this campaign on Outdoors People for Climate Action's Task Hub page.

#ClimateActNow Explainer Video by Sarah Wilson:


https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3499755486766341



References


#OutdoorsPeopleForClimateAction

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