Climate Change and Energy

Key Issues

These include agriculture and forestry sector issues as they relate to global change)
  • Working with Members and other contacts who work in this area;
  • Working on submissions around the Zero Carbon Bill, climate change response and renewable energy.
  • Working on solutions and submissions on climate change, energy and related land use including agriculture, forestry, biodiversity and soils
  • Promoting policies and attitudes to reduce carbon emissions and foster carbon sinks and reservoirs.
  • Communicating climate and energy policy and behaviour change
  • Promotion of protection of native biodiversity and social justice in the pursuit of climate policies.
  • Ocean acidification and a precautionary approach to geoengineering.

URGENT : Zero Carbon Bill - submissions close 16 July

The Zero Carbon Bill - formally known as the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill is before the Environment Committee of Parliament, to be reported back by 21 October 2019. The Bill was supported in it first reading by all Political Parties except ACT.

Information on the bill can be found on the Parliamentary website #HaveYourSay on the Zero Carbon Bill. This page includes video information from the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Environment Select Committee which includes information on how to make a submission.
The bill proposes to place a set of greenhouse gas reduction targets into law and require that future governments continue these efforts into the future. It also includes provisions to:

  • Set up the Climate Change Commission, originally conceived of as an independent body that will advise and support the government to reach the targets;
  • Create a requirement that the government sets emission budgets every five years that will act as ‘stepping stones’ towards the ultimate goal of zero greenhouse gases by 2050;
  • Sets a 2050 zero net emissions target for all gases apart from methane from agriculture and waste (biogenic emissions) which has a target of: "(i) are 10% less than 2017 emissions by the calendar year beginning n 1 January 2030; and  (ii) are at least 24% to 47% less than 2017 emissions by the calendar year beginning on 1 January 2050 and for each subsequent calendar year".  The Commission will have no power to amend the 2030 target or suggest 2030 targets for other gases.  The 2017 base year, rather than the usual 1990, favours the dairy industry over other sectors in agriculture.
  • Create a requirement that the government understands the risk of climate change (for example, rising sea levels) and produces plans to address these.

The Bill is an amendment to the existing Climate Change Response Act 2002, meaning that all of the key climate-related legislation is covered under one Act.  The Bill includes a fourth purpose to that Act consistent with a 1.5oC Paris Agreement target which creates a confusing purpose requirement.

Among the issues that need strengthening or changing includes:

  • targets for methane in 2030 and 2050 and the base year on which it was based eg 2017 vs 2005 or 1990.
  • making the 1.5oC target the clear purpose for the Act;
  • strengthening the role and independence of the Climate Change Commission;
  • requiring all Government entities and Local Government to implement carbon reduction plans and act consistently with those plans;
  • make all the plans and decisions enforceable.

ECO invites members to make submissions to Parliament and also to send us your thoughts on the Bill.  We think it is probably a bad idea for the Independent Climate Change Commission to report to a Minister rather than to Parliament as a whole as in the Bill. Reporting to Parliament not a Minister would lessen political partisanship. 
Submissions close on 16 July 2019 with the Environment Committee of Parliament.