House debates

Thursday, 4 August 2022


Climate Change Bill 2022, Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022; Consideration in Detail

12:02 pm

Photo of Zali SteggallZali Steggall (Warringah, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I move amendment (1) to the Climate Change Bill 2022 as circulated in my name:

(1) Clause 15, page 10 (after line 2), after subclause (2), insert:

(2A) The Commonwealth must only communicate a new nationally determined contribution in accordance with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement that first includes a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2035, 2040 or 2045 if:

(a) the Climate Change Authority has given advice under subsection (1) on the target; or

(b) the Minister, after consultation with the Climate Change Authority, is satisfied that the new nationally determined contribution needs to be communicated urgently to further the matters set out in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement.

Note: This requirement does not apply to adjustments of nationally determined contributions. Such adjustments must represent an enhancement of Australia's level of ambition under subsection 10(6) and advice on such adjustments may be requested under paragraph 15(1)(b).

For those who have not read that amendment, the intent of the amendment is to ensure that the future of targets and emissions budgets is informed by science—something which for far too long has not really been the source of the debate in this place. This is achieved through requiring the minister to seek the advice of the Climate Change Authority in advance of lodging a new nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement. This is important because we know the world is moving towards net zero, and we need to ensure that we are compliant with our obligations under the Paris Agreement and are focused on the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to achieve limiting global warming to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible. This amendment also clarifies that future greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are required for 2035, for 2040 and for 2045. This provides a very clear road map to net zero.

The note included in the amendment further reinforces that, while the new Climate Change Authority advice isn't necessarily required for adjustments to nationally determined contributions, any adjustment must represent an enhancement of ambition towards emissions reduction. This means we cannot slide backwards following any change of government, and I would call this our future insurance policy. It says that, once an NDC has been made, it cannot be amended to go backwards.

Whilst, of course, this means also that the government does not have to seek the advice of the Climate Change Authority to review its 2030 target, I would urge the government, when the evidence is in, when we see how well the international community and industry and business invest in our transition, to be more ambitious. We can send the message that we are up for more. Australians have always, on the world stage, in so many areas, punched above our weight. In sport, in industry, in business, we always manage to overachieve. So I would encourage the government, when it's possible, when advice is available, to do that.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask the minister a clarifying question on the consequential amendments bill. I appreciate the minister's commitment to continue reviewing further acts for inclusion in the consequential amendments. Minister, could you please confirm that this review process will also consider strengthening the operation of the current set of amendments, such as for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, and require, in time, a shift from 'may consider the climate change impacts' to 'must consider the climate change impacts'. Clearly, 'may' provides a huge loophole, from a legal background, for further projects to be approved and the climate impacts just ignored. 'Must' provides a much greater liability to consider climate impacts on funding and approvals and projects. It's clear that that's needed if we want to achieve the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.


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