9 November 2020
NSWCCL warmly welcomes the introduction to Parliament of the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 (“the Bill”) by the independent member for Warringah Zali Steggall.
We are living in a climate emergency. Calling the multifaceted and serious crises a warming planet is precipitating “global warming” or “climate change” no longer does justice to the urgency of our circumstances. As we gradually move out of one global emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic, we should reflect on the value of rapid, high-quality emergency governance in defeating large scale, complex problems facing our societies. We should ask why we have not seen similar quality governance in Australia with respect to the climate emergency.
Sadly, Australia’s climate policy has been hopelessly inadequate for many years and out of line with the actions of many of our key allies and trading partners. Our Prime Minister has recently refused to sign up to a net zero emissions target by 2050, despite increasing international isolation on the issue.
At our 2019 Annual General Meeting, NSWCCL recognised, in line with a growing number of human rights bodies, that climate change is a central civil liberties and human rights issue.
Passage of Ms Steggall’s Bill would be a crucial first step in building political consensus and providing stability, transparency and parliamentary scrutiny in the area of climate policy, which will facilitate the introduction of more ambitious proposals by government. The Bill does not dictate any one climate policy to the government. As framework legislation, it recognises that the executive may require flexibility and choice in the formulation and implementation of climate policy. However, if passed, it would represent an expression of the elected Parliament’s intention to only permit the development of reasonable, science-based climate policy. As is abundantly clear from the science, if Australia is to reach its Paris target of limiting warming to 1.5°C and thus play its part in averting the worst consequences of climate change, our government’s policies and decision-making must conduce to the meeting of a target of zero net accounting emissions by around 2050. All States and Territories have zero net emissions by 2050 targets, as do many leading overseas jurisdictions.
NSWCCL stresses that this legislative model alone is insufficient to meet the exigencies of our climate emergency. Our governments can and should be doing more, including aiming for a target of 45% emissions reduction on 2010 levels by 2030, 100% renewable energy by 2030, not supporting any new coal and gas projects, and funding a just transition to a green economy.
Nevertheless, NSWCCL commends Ms Steggall’s Bill as a good start and will participate in the campaign to secure its passage.
To read NSWCCL’s views on the Bill in March of this year, please view our previous statement at: https://www.nswccl.org.au/climate_change_bill_2020.
- Zali Steggall's summary of the Bill and Climate Act Now website
- Our submission
 https://www.atse.org.au/news-and-events/article/emissions-targets-are-we-on-track/; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/31/net-zero-what-if-australia-misses-the-moment-on-climate-action; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/08/australia-warned-it-could-be-isolated-over-climate-inaction-after-joe-biden-victory