Monday, 20 March 2023
Private Members' Business
We've all heard many times from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that the effect of climate change on our environment and on the situation globally can only be ameliorated by strong, immediate and effective action on our carbon emissions. We know that the Albanese government has in front of this parliament at this time a piece of legislation, the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill, which is aimed at decreasing carbon emissions over the next 10 to 15 years. But the problem with that piece of legislation and with most of the pieces of legislation we've seen on this to date, is that they're too small, they're too iterative, they lack the vision that we need to see and they're not going to be effective in producing the immediate reduction in carbon emissions that we need to see.
The issue with the safeguard mechanism as it currently stands is that it makes it possible for the high emitters to completely offset their carbon emissions by means of initiatives like the Australian carbon credit units—the ACCU scheme—or the safeguard mechanism credits, which we know, and which were proven most recently in the review undertaken by Professor Ian Chubb, to be ineffective. Essentially what we're doing is fancy maths and creative accounting with our future. The steps that have been suggested by the Albanese government with the safeguard mechanism and similar pieces of legislation will not be effective to the extent that we need them to be effective.
I do thank the member for Werriwa for this motion, and I acknowledge the fact that we really do need strong action in this area, but the reality is that the initiatives that have been suggested by the government to date are insufficiently strong. We know that there are means by which we can support industry in decreasing its emissions more effectively over time, but the mitigation strategies that have been suggested to date are, unfortunately, unlikely to be effective enough to produce the changes that we need to see.
Knowing that we need to decrease our emissions by more than the 43 per cent that this current government has set out by 2030—that we need to go to 75 per cent by 2035—we need to have more vision. We need to have more courage. We need to be more steadfast in the face of the pressures placed on us by the fossil fuel industries and other lobby groups. We need to demonstrate an understanding of the science and an ability to move with that science in a more effective way than we have to date. I support the member's motion, but I encourage the government to act with more courage, with more consideration of the science of these matters, and more quickly and effectively to protect all of our futures.