A Climate Change Act for Australia would create structure and transparency at the national level so that the nation can meet the goals of the Paris Agreement in an effective manner.
In December 2020 ClimateWorks had the opportunity to submit to the enquiry on the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020.
The Climate Change Bill was submitted to parliament on November 9 by the Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall. In May 2019 in a piece published in The Conversation ClimateWorks’ Anna Skarbek and Anna Malos with the University of Oxford’s Cameron Hepburn and Matthew Carl Ives called on the Australian government to adopt a climate change act as the UK had done, stating:
We have national targets, but not yet ongoing systems embedded in departments. These systems would include measures to ensure continuous target-setting every five years (as used in other jurisdictions) with guidelines and progress reporting obligations. A lack of national legislation means the community and businesses lack transparency about Australia’s long-term direction, pace and progress.
It is with this in mind that ClimateWorks welcomes the proposed Act, viewing the impacts as fourfold:
- ensure that Australia is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to reach net zero emissions in a fair and effective way
- assist with an orderly transition away from emissions intensive economic activities. The global shift away from emissions intensive goods is underway and Australia needs to be proactive in its response. The processes detailed in this bill would help ensure benefits to trade-exposed regions (often rural communities with fewer alternative employment options).
- prepare for unavoidable impacts of locked in climate change
- Set Australia up to make the most of its clean energy resources and create competitive advantage in key areas of the emerging net zero economy