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Last week we talked about what is in the government’s Climate Change Bill. Which was to say, not much, really. In this post we look more broadly at what sort of climate legislation Australian Parents for Climate Action would like to see, based on what we proposed in our submission to the Senate Inquiry.
Image Credit: Tingey Injury Law firm via Unsplash
There are a couple of different types of climate legislation. One is known as framework legislation, which establishes the rules around the implementation of broad policy statements. Another approach implements specific policies relating to emissions reduction or adaptation, by allocating funding via appropriations, and/or establishing market regulation (carrots and/or sticks) to drive desired outcomes.
The United States’ government’s brand new Inflation Reduction Act is an example of the latter. It includes hundreds of billions in funding for renewable energy, EVs and charging infrastructure, heat pumps in homes and a host of other very targeted initiatives. The legislation runs to 700 pages.
The Climate Change Bill 2022 is an example of framework legislation, but it’s particularly narrow compared with examples from countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Weighing in at about six pages of actual content, all it does is set a target for emissions reduction, and require the government to obtain non-binding advice from the quasi-independent Climate Change Authority (CCA) on progress against the target, and whether it should be strengthened.
In 2020, Independent MP Zali Steggall tabled a Private Members Bill, which not only set (stronger) targets, but also, like the international examples it was modelled on, required:
These are important additions that would considerably broaden the scope of the Bill and improve accountability.
The ALP's Bill requires an annual climate change statement. However, that statement does not specifically require the statement to advise whether Australia’s efforts are consistent with what the science tells us is necessary to avert a particular level of warming in accordance with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In AP4CA’s submission, we recommended that this requirement be made explicit and that such advice is put in the context of expectations for key climate outcomes such as, but not limited to:
Calling out these types of objectively bad outcomes would help more people realise the dangerous costs of climate inaction, which would make it easier to justify greater ambition.
The elephant in the room is that the Climate Bill is silent on the Australian government’s continued commitment to the expansion of coal and gas extraction. The not inconsiderable domestic emissions associated with new coal and gas export projects are included in the emissions reduction target, which might cause headaches for some projects.
For example, a typical LNG (liquified fossil methane) export project uses about 10% of the total gas extracted right here in Australia! They use gas as the main energy source during processing, transporting and liquifying the gas that is eventually exported. And that’s only part of the project’s domestic emissions.
However, the vast exported emissions are not counted, despite the fact that those emissions worsen climate change for all countries. In another post we’ll dive into this issue in more detail. But Greens leader Adam Bandt summed it up nicely when he likened ignoring scope 3 and allowing the industry to continue, as akin to trying to put out a fire in your house with a bucket while simultaneously pouring petrol on it.
We believe it is critical that the Australian Government quickly supplements the Climate Change Bill with additional legislation, amendments and regulations that:
Obviously that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Join us in the weeks to come as we unpack more of the types of climate policies we’d like to see at Federal, State and local government level. If you are interested in learning more about a particular aspect, or disagree with our position on anything, please let us know via comments when we post these posts on our socials.
David McEwen is a father of teenage boys who leads the all volunteer AP4CA Policy & Submissions team.Share Tweet
Australian Parents for Climate Action meet and work on the lands of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and respect that sovereignty of those lands was never ceded. We pay respect to Elders, past and present and emerging, and acknowledge the pivotal role that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within the Australian community.