Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020
In November 2020, Zali Steggall MP introduced the Private Member’s Bill into Parliament.
The Climate Change Bill was then referred to a Parliamentary Inquiry through the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy.
The Bill is supported by hundreds of business, science and environmental organisations and over 93,000 Australians.
If made law the Climate Change Act 2020 will ensure that Australia has:
• A Net Zero emissions target by 2050, getting there through emissions reduction plans and emissions budgets
• Risk assessments and adaptation plans, so that the different parts of our continent and economy know the risks of climate change and can prepare for them
• Technology readiness assessment, so that we know the existing and emerging ways we can reduce emissions, with the least risk and cost
• An independent advisory commission (IAC), that can advise the Government, transparently and independently, on our national needs and plans.
House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy
PO Box 6021
Canberra ACT 2600
Outdoors People for Climate Action
25 November 2020
RE: Submission to the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy in respect of the Climate Change (National Framework and Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation)(Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020
Dear Committee members,
Outdoors People for Climate Action welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Inquiry into the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill
Outdoors People for Climate Action is a group of outdoor recreation enthusiasts, workers and businesses who are concerned about the state of the climate and how it will impact on outdoor recreation. Our mission is to empower the people in the outdoor community to take action on climate change. Formed in March 2020, we currently have 178 members and 11 business supporters, and we believe this number will continue to grow as we expand our reach and capabilities. We represent outdoors educators, enthusiasts, instructors and guides, nature therapists, outdoor education teachers, rangers and field officers and outdoor equipment retailers, and we encompass all outdoors activities ranging from bushwalking, skiing, rock climbing, paddling, mountain biking, surfing and trail running.
RECOMMENDATION: That the Committee consider the effect that climate change
and global warming will have on outdoor recreation in Australia, particularly in
regard to the survival of the industry and the mental, physical and social health of Australians when assessing the need for the Bill.
Outdoors People for Climate Action support the Bill in its entirety. A net zero emissions target, combined with risk assessment and adaptation plans, technology readiness assessments and an independent advisory commission, is vital to ensure the ongoing viability of Australia’s outdoors sector and outdoor recreation.
Protection of outdoor places is so important to us because they enrich our lives and provide many of us with meaningful employment. Outdoor places also benefit the Australian public more broadly by aiding mental, physical and social wellbeing, and providing opportunities for volunteering, employment and leisure.
However, these places where outdoors people work and recreate are under at risk from the effects of climate change and global warming.
As extreme weather events like bushfires, floods, droughts, and storms become more common, we will see more destruction of the areas in which outdoor recreation takes place. In NSW alone, 2.7 million hectares of National Park land was burnt in the 2019-20 bushfires, which represents 37% of the entire NSW Parks system.¹ This included significant amounts of premier outdoor recreation areas like the Blue Mountains National Park and Kosciusko National Park. This destruction of National Parks was not limited to NSW – we saw Gondwana Rainforests being burnt in Lamington National Park in Queensland,² and 80% of Namadgi National Park burnt in the ACT.³ As these extreme weather events become more likely, we are at risk of our outdoor areas being increasingly compromised. In addition, the higher frequency of these extreme weather events increases the risk to people participating in outdoor recreation.
Rising sea levels and coastal erosion are predicted to have a serious impact on the beaches where Australians love to relax, swim, surf, and walk. Over 50% of Australia’s coastline is vulnerable to erosion from rising sea levels.⁴ Rising sea levels is also threatening low-lying inland wetlands like the World-Heritage listed Kakadu National Park,⁵ and increasing ocean temperatures will continue to bleach coral reefs across Australia,⁶ resulting in drastic consequences for outdoor recreation in these areas.
Increasing air temperatures will result in declining snow cover and shorter snow seasons,⁷ limiting the opportunity for skiing, snowboarding and other snow-related activities. CSIRO’s climate-driven snow model shows that there may not be a ski season in Australia by 2050 if there is 2.9°C increase in average temperature in the Alpine region.⁸ Not only this, increasing average temperatures will reduce the suitability of outdoor activities due to extreme heat, particularly in central and northern Australia, and in summer across Australia.⁹
Lower rainfall and higher water scarcity will decrease the opportunities for paddling and kayaking in Australia. Lower water availability in outdoor areas, particularly remote areas, will increase the risk of recreating outdoors in remote areas, and hence decrease the appeal of outdoor activities.
Finally, general biodiversity loss and habitat degradation reduces the overall appeal and enjoyment of outdoor recreation due to the distress caused by seeing beloved environments in poor health.
The COVID pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions have shown how important the outdoors is to Australians. There have been more people out walking, running and bike riding in their local nature reserve and National Parks,¹⁰ so much so that parks around Melbourne have had to be closed due to the high visitor numbers.¹¹
Outdoors people need the Federal government to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050 in order to ensure the longevity of outdoor recreation in Australia. Rising temperatures have already had devastating effects on our outdoor recreation environments, and these will continue to worsen if action is not taken. We urge the committee to consider the impacts that climate change will have on outdoor recreation in Australia when reviewing the need for the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020.
Thank you for your consideration of our submission.
Philippa Callan and Victoria Adams on behalf of Outdoors People for Climate Action
¹ NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Understanding the effects of the 2019-20 fires, (22 May 2020) .
² NASA, Smoke and Fires in Australia’s Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests, (11 October 2019) .
³ ACT Government, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, Orroral Valley Fire Impact Report, (2020) .
⁴ Climate Council, Icons at Risk: Climate Change threatening Australian Tourism (2018) 28.
⁵ Ibid, 18, 26.
⁶ Ibid, 37.
⁷ Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Climate Change impacts on snow in Victoria (December 2012)
⁸ CSIRO, The impact of climate change on snow conditions in mainland Australia (August 2003) 4.
⁹ Climate Council, Icons at Risk: Climate Change threatening Australian Tourism (2018) 23.
¹⁰ Malcolm Sutton, ‘Coronavirus restrictions see Australians head outdoors in big numbers to stay healthy’, ABC (online), 15 April 2020 .
¹¹ David Estcourt, ‘State authorities close parks over distancing fears’, ABC (online), 30 May 2020 .