The federal government has fired the starter’s gun on the emissions-reduction debate with the introduction of the bill that will prescribe a 2030 emissions-reduction target of 43%.
Minister for climate change and energy Chris Bowen told parliament during his second reading speech on the bill that the legislation deals with “one of the most urgent and pressing issues of our time”.
“For too long, too much time has been devoted in the newspaper columns of this country and in this place to fighting the climate wars,” Bowen said.
“The political infighting has seen Australia not just pause progress but go backwards, to miss the economic and jobs opportunities that come from real action on climate change.”
He said the bill sets out the emission targets for 2030 and 2050 with provisions that permit the government to bump up the emissions reduction targets as and when required.
“I want to make an important point to the House — 43% is not a limit on our emissions ambition. On the contrary, as we’ve said repeatedly, we see 43% as a floor on what our country can achieve,” Bowen said.
“We said it in our nationally determined contribution that we’ve already sent the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: it is our hope that our commitments and the commitments of industry, states and territories and local government will yield even greater emissions reductions in the coming decade and into the future.”
The Bill requires the relevant minister with responsibility for climate change to make an annual statement on climate change to parliament.
This statement will contain updated information on Australia’s progress in meeting emissions targets set down in legislation.
The annual ministerial statement foreshadowed in the bill will be prepared with advice from the Climate Change Authority, which will be involved in giving the government independent advice on how Australia is meeting its obligations on climate change reduction.
“The Climate Change Authority’s advice will provide an independent, expert, authoritative assessment of Australia’s contribution to global action,” Bowen said.
“The Climate Change Authority will consult on the advice that it gives to the government on targets, which will mean that the Australian community will be able to contribute to that advice, and it will provide an independent, expert assessment of Australia’s proper contribution to global action.”
Bowen said the government had support from the corporate sector for the legislation.
“Both the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have urged bipartisan support for the approach and targets adopted in the bill before us today,” he said.