House debates

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Bills

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

9:58 am

Monique Ryan (Kooyong, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—On behalf of the member for Curtin, I move amendments (1) and (2) in respect of the Climate Change Bill 2022, as circulated in her name:

(1) Clause 3, page 2 (before line 15), before paragraph (a), insert:

(aa) to advance an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change drawing on the best available scientific knowledge; and

(2) Clause 3, page 2 (line 21), after "accountability", insert "and ambition".

The member for Curtin is, unfortunately, unable to attend today because of COVID. Clause 3 of the Climate Change Bill sets out the objects of the bill. This clause, in its current form, has been included after discussions between the crossbench and the government and is a welcome addition to the bill.

The bill in its current form sets out three objects of the bill: to set out targets, to promote accountability and to ensure that advice from the Climate Change Authority informs the settings of targets and annual climate statements.

The proposed amendment adds another object:

… to advance an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change drawing on the best available scientific knowledge …

This amendment aims to broaden the legislation beyond the setting of a number to reflect that the parliament's intention is that this legislation be an effective, symbolic start to real climate action.

This amendment clarifies the underlying climate goals of the bill, the urgency of action and a link to scientific knowledge. An acknowledgement of the object's clause of the urgency of action and a link to scientific knowledge should give business certainty that this is a new era in climate policy and that the Australian parliament has an intention to be guided by the science and to decarbonise our economy. The setting of a numerical target is the first step in this significant shift.

A related amendment is also proposed to amend clause 3(b) so that it promotes accountability and ambition to reflect that this is the start of a significant journey ahead.

Objects clauses serve a few purposes in legislation. Firstly, they provide a statement of the policy objective of the legislation that enables the parliament and the public to gauge the success of legislation in achieving its policy goals. This bill contains provision for periodic reviews of the operation of the act under clause 17. If the purpose is narrowly defined as the setting of a target and not to the underlying climate goal, reviews could be limited in scope accordingly. A review might say, 'Yes, the legislation was effective in setting a target,' irrespective of whether or not those targets were met. It would be a reasonable community expectation that the review should examine the effectiveness of the legislation in driving climate change mitigation, rather than just the setting of a target.

Secondly, objects clauses assist in statutory interpretation, especially for broadly worded provisions. Proposed sections 12, 14 and 17 contain broadly worded obligations. An objects clause that refers to the underlying climate objectives assists in ensuring that these obligations are interpreted consistently with those climate objectives and that that advice, those reports and those reviews have substance to them.

This amendment is consistent with community expectations of the government's mandate to legislate a target, making it clear that the purpose is to drive real and urgent action on climate in line with the science.

10:02 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Kooyong, and, in her absence, I thank the member for Curtin, for this contribution. The member for Curtin is unwell and I know she would be a very strong participant in this debate if she were here.

I might just say, by way of summary, there have been a range of discussions of good faith between the government and the crossbench. As we have said publicly, where there are suggestions which are entirely in keeping with the government's mandate and approach and which make things clearer or more explicit, we are more than happy to work in good faith with the crossbench. This is one instance of a sensible suggestion to make a change in the objects, and it would be unusual for anyone to oppose such a basic object to comply and to work for the thing that's been laid out by the honourable member's amendment. The government will support it.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that amendments (1) and (2) moved by the member for Kooyong on behalf of the member for Curtin be agreed to.

10:13 am

Zoe Daniel (Goldstein, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

DANIEL () (): In respect of the Climate Change Bill 2022, I move:

(1) Clause 10, page 5 (lines 17 and 18), omit the note, substitute:

Note: The achievement of a target involves reducing Australia's net greenhouse gas emissions to a level that is at or below the target. Accordingly, nothing in subsection (1) limits Australia's ability to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions beyond 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.

I've moved this amendment because the science says that we should be hitting at least 50 per cent, preferably 60 per cent, by 2030 to help keep global temperatures below two degrees and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. I went to the election believing, based on modelling and evidence, that 60 per cent is a realistic target within that time frame, but I appreciate the consideration that the minister has given me and other members of the crossbench and this opportunity to move an amendment that I believe strengthens the language of this legislation.

In the course of conversations with the minister about this bill, I advocated strongly for 43 per cent to be explicitly noted as a floor, not a ceiling, when it comes to carbon emissions. This plain language is necessary I believe to prevent ambition from being thwarted, to make sure that there are no unintended consequences of this law that limit our future capacity to be brave and innovative, and to lead on climate policy. I'm pleased that the minister has indicated his readiness to accept this suggestion of the addition of a note on page 5 to make it clear that the legislation does not limit Australia's ability to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions beyond 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This will have some legal force, but, as the Supreme Court of Victoria has stated:

Although a note such as this forms part of the Act, it is subordinate to the substantive provisions, of which it is merely explanatory or illustrative.

Nonetheless, the amendment that I am proposing makes it clearer that there is opportunity to go beyond the 43 per cent cut in carbon emissions supported by this government.

I urge the minister to take a further look at the initial proposal when considering further legislation, but for now this is a substantial step forward. To those members of my community who wanted a more ambitious target, I say this: this bill provides a means for that ambition; without a guiding principle, it is difficult to progress. So, in my mind, this is very much a start, not a finish.

I thank the minister and the government for the collaboration, and I look forward to being ambitious and brave together. I commend this amendment to the House.

10:15 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I also thank the honourable member for Goldstein for her very strong and good-faith collaboration with the government. In the NDC that has already been sent to the UNFCCC, it makes it clear that the government regards 43 per cent as a floor to our ambition, that we think that, with industry and governments—state, federal and local—working together, the country can do even better. That is explicit in the bill. The honourable member's amendment makes it even more explicit. The government is happy to support it.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by the member for Goldstein be agreed to.

10:31 am

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

Just to advise the House: the Federation Chamber has tried a few times to start. It goes for a couple of minutes and then there's a division. I suggest that the Federation Chamber remains suspended while this legislation is being dealt with in the House. Then, once we see how long this is taking, a decision can be made by the Presiding Officer as to whether it starts up again today.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

In light of the business before the House, the Federation Chamber may resume once we have dealt with these bills. I will move on to the next amendments.

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

At the request of the member for Indi, I move amendments (1) and (2) to the Climate Change Bill 2022 and amendments (1) and (2) to the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022, as circulated in her name:

(1) Clause 12, page 7 (line 18), at the end of subclause (1), add:

; and (e) the impact of the Commonwealth's climate change policies to achieve Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets on rural and regional Australia, including the social, employment and economic benefits being delivered by those policies in rural and regional Australia.

(2) Clause 15, page 9 (after line 34), after subclause (1), insert:

(1A) The advice given under subsection (1) must include advice on:

(a) the social, employment and economic benefits of any new or adjusted greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and associated policies, including for rural and regional Australia; and

(b) the physical impacts of climate change on Australia, including on rural and regional Australia.

I rise on behalf of the member for Indi, who has asked that I move these amendments on her behalf. The member has provided speaking points to the amendments, which I will now read out:

I am deeply disappointed that I have tested positive for COVID and will be unable to vote in favour of this Bill in the House.

Because this is a Bill that is good for regional Australia, and which will drive the economic future of regional Australia.

This Bill sets in law a commitment that the vast majority of Australians support—that we will decarbonize our economy by the middle of the century.

And today, I seek four simple changes to make a good Bill an even better one, by inserting regional Australia at the heart of our climate policy framework.

First, I propose to amend the Climate Change Authority to make sure that Australia's climate policies boost economic, employment and social benefits for rural and regional Australia.

In the Government's Bill, the Climate Change Authority is the body charged with advising on climate targets and climate policies.

I believe that renewable energy and the new industries it will unlock could become the next goldrush for regional Australia—but only if we plan it right.

Second, I am proposing to expand the list of eligible qualifications for appointments to the Climate Change Authority.

These are the people who will be advising on Australia's targets and tracking our progress to achieving those.

We need regional voices at that table. And we need people who understand how to make renewable energy actually deliver for regional communities.

Third, my amendment requires the Minister to outline the benefits that their policies are delivering to the regions.

A key part of the Government's Bill is that the Climate Change Minister must, each year, deliver a statement to the Parliament on Australia's progress in reaching our targets and the effectiveness of our climate policies.

Under my amendment, that statement must specifically outline the social, employment, and economic benefits that those policies are delivering to the regions.

This is an accountability mechanism.

It means that no Government can get away with a climate policy that does not specifically address the unique circumstances of and opportunities for regional Australia.

And finally, my amendment requires regions to be explicitly considered when setting new emissions targets.

Under the Government's Bill, the Climate Change Authority must provide advice on any new or revised emissions targets. Under my amendment, when advising on those targets, the Authority must advise the Minister on the benefits to regional communities that a higher target would deliver, and the physical impacts of climate change on regional Australia.

This means that in three years, when the Government sets our next target for 2035, it will be forced to reckon with two facts: that climate change is damaging the regions, and that decarbonizing the economy must deliver for the regions.

It is only sensible that Australia's climate policy framework has a particular focus on the regions because we regional Australians are at the forefront of the changing climate.

We regional Australians endure the brunt of the droughts, the floods and the bushfires that are becoming increasingly intense.

And it is the regions that will host almost all of the new renewable energy, all the new transmission lines and a huge part of the new industries Australia must build to truly take advantage of the net zero economic opportunity.

This transition will happen primarily in the regions, so it only makes sense that our climate policy keeps a special focus on the regions.

I thank the Member for Mayo for moving these amendments on my behalf and I thank the Minister for Climate Change and Energy for working with me constructively to improve the Government's Bill.

The Coalition right now has a choice—to support these amendments and support regional people, or to put old politics ahead of regional people and prosperity.

I urge all Members to vote for these amendments. By putting the regions back into the centre of the climate debate, we are making this Bill something that can work for every part of our country.

I was very pleased to read that speech and put forward those amendments on behalf of the member for Indi.

10:36 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I am sure the member for Indi is watching, and I am sure the whole House wishes her a speedy recovery from COVID. On behalf of the government, I appreciate the member for Indi's strong interaction with me and with the government on matters of regional affairs. The member for Mayo is a strong advocate for regions, and I am sure the member for Mayo would agree that the member for Indi is a particularly strong advocate for regions.

The member for Indi's amendments, as the member for Mayo has indicated, really do four things. They require that the annual climate change statement to the parliament made by the minister of the day include reference to regional Australia and the impacts on regional Australia and also that this be included in the advice to government by the Climate Change Authority on the setting of future targets. Also, this adds to the performance of functions and, I think, importantly, adds rural and regional development and community energy as qualifications for appointment to the Climate Change Authority. These are very sensible amendments, and I am pleased to indicate on behalf of the government that we will support them.

I would be shocked if any member opposed these. If the National Party is opposing—we will see in a few moments—the inclusion of regional affairs in these things, it would really indicate just how low this debate has fallen. I hope I am on the pessimistic side of the spectrum and that the National Party will be supporting these.

10:38 am

Photo of David LittleproudDavid Littleproud (Maranoa, National Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Indi as well as the member for Mayo for putting these amendments up. While it is well intended, unfortunately it doesn't go to the heart of the issue. In fact, as a coalition government, we put in place a structured process of review that had independence. It had an independent review by the Productivity Commission, who are better equipped to undertake these reviews than the Climate Change Authority are. This is like having the Climate Change Authority assess their own homework. Why wouldn't we have an independent authority come in and understand the economic impact on regional and rural Australia?

So to be constructive, as the National Party always are, which is at the heart of representing regional and rural Australia and understanding the impacts this will have on regional and rural Australia, we will be working through the Senate committee process to make sure that we can work constructively to get back to the core principle of independence and having transparency on what impact this will have on regional and rural Australia and those people we represent that have borne most of the bill in us meeting Kyoto and Paris, so that that burden is not unfairly put on regional and rural Australia. We will work constructively on that, but we feel that these amendments are ill equipped to ensure the security for regional and rural Australia to participate in any climate change debate.

10:39 am

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I too thank the member for Indi for her amendments and hope she is feeling a little bit better. I also thank the member for Mayo for speaking on her behalf in the chamber. I appreciate the concern that the member for Indi has for regional communities. It's certainly a concern shared at least by everybody on this side of the chamber. I appreciate also the fact that she is seeking to protect regional communities from impacts of this bill because, rest assured, there will be impacts from this bill.

As I said in the second reading speech, it is an indictment on the government that it has utterly failed to include any safeguards in these bills and has, indeed, actively removed safeguards from the nationally determined contribution—the NDC. The coalition's 2021 NDC included a requirement for regular reviews of the impact of the government's climate change policies on regional communities, on jobs and investment, on energy prices and on agricultural land. The new Albanese Labor government have stripped all of these safeguards from the NDC. That is exactly the act that they have taken.

With respect to the amendments from the member for Indi, it is not good enough to have the Climate Change Authority do this work. The leader of the National Party is right; it is the equivalent of them marking their own homework. Worse still, it is like the minister himself marking his own homework. That's what these amendments would effectively enable. That's why we have decided, as an opposition, to also oppose this amendment. It's not good enough for a climate change policy body with a narrow field of expertise to be considering the very broad impacts that these bills would likely have on regional Australia. And so the coalition's approach in government was to have reviews conducted independently—reviews undertaken independent of government by the Productivity Commission. While I thank the member for Indi for her contribution today—I really do—the coalition will oppose these amendments. But we will explore further, through the committee process in the other place, how further safeguards can be placed around these bills.

10:42 am

Sophie Scamps (Mackellar, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I support the member for Indi's amendments moved by the member for Mayo. Item 1 will require the Climate Change Authority, in performing its function, to have regard to the principles such as boosting economic, employment and social benefits, including for rural and regional Australia. Item 2 will set out that appointments to the Climate Change Authority are not eligible for associate members unless the minister is satisfied that the person has rural and regional development and community energy expertise. The amendments ensure that rural and regional Australia are considered when formulating climate policy, as they will be at the forefront of the transition to net zero and climate impacts. As we are debating the consequential amendments bill, I will ask the minister: at a later date, will you extend the consideration of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets to functions of the board of Industry Innovation and Science Australia? Directions to the board by the minister, and the prescribing of programs by the minister, fall under the Industry Research and Development Act 1986.

10:44 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Mackellar for her support of these very sensible amendments moved by the member for Indi. I am surprised that anybody would oppose such sensible amendments. In relation to the honourable member's question, the explanatory memorandum which I've tabled does indicate that there will be further review of the range of government organisations that would be impacted. As the honourable members would appreciate, we have taken the decision to change the objects and functions of a range of organisations. We've also indicated that there are a range of others that would take longer to consider. I'm happy to indicate to the House I envisage this review occurring over the next 12 months and me coming back to the House within 12 months. I am happy to indicate to the honourable member that the Industry Research and Development Act 1986 will be considered as part of that review, as will a range of other acts and organisations.

While I have the floor, a number of other members have raised issues of a similar nature, so I might take this opportunity to answer the questions they raised in their second reading debate speeches. The member for Melbourne asked about NOPSEMA. I can indicate that NOPSEMA, like other government organisations, will be considered in that review.

The member for Melbourne separately raised the matter of native forest wood biomass under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act. I am happy to have further discussions with him to better understand his concerns, as I do, in good faith, with honourable members across the parliament. I do note the regulations already include a number of protections to ensure the sustainability of any such energy sources. It has never been a significant source of certificates under the legislation; however, I am more than happy to hear any concerns the honourable member has.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendments moved by the member for Mayo at the request of the member for Indi be agreed to.

10:54 am

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I move amendments (1) to (3) to the Climate Change Bill 2022 as circulated in my name:

(1) Clause 10, page 5 (line 10), omit "43%", substitute "75%".

(2) Clause 10, page 5 (line 16), omit "2050", substitute "2035, at the latest".

(3) Clause 12, page 7 (line 18), at the end of subclause (1), add:

; and (e) Australia's scope 3 emissions of greenhouse gas.

As I mentioned in my second reading speech, the government's bill is a good start. But it is deficient, seriously so, and the three amendments I've presented to the House would go some considerable way to remedying it.

Firstly, we need much more ambitious targets because what we do this decade is obviously critically important to the success or failure of Australia's response to climate change. Indeed, experts at the Climate Council tell us that net zero by 2050 is at least a decade too late. In fact—and I quote the Climate Council—this time line 'carries a strong risk of irreversible global climate disruption at levels inconsistent with maintaining well-functioning human societies'. And using the same methodology as the Climate Change Authority did in 2014, experts have calculated that the global emissions budget gives Australia only about 15 years to reach net zero.

The message could not be clearer, and when reflecting on it we need to also consider the fact that Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and that much of our wealth has come directly from our fossil fuel resources, which directly contribute to the problem. This economic advantage, plus our abundant natural resources, actually places us in prime position to develop renewable energy capacity and the ability to export this clean energy to the rest of the world. In other words, Australia, of all countries, can be so much more ambitious. With all this in mind, amendments (1) and (2) replace the weak targets that are currently in the bill with targets of a 75 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 and a commitment to reach net zero by 2035 at the latest. These are science backed and equitable.

Secondly, Australia is one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels on the globe, and our own measuring and reduction of carbon emissions needs to reflect that. Indeed, since 2005 our fossil fuel exports have more than doubled, meaning that the emissions caused by other countries burning Australia's exported coal, oil and gas are more than double our total domestic emissions. This contribution to global climate pollution is significant, and it's our responsibility. Yet the current government, even while acknowledging the need to reduce our emissions at home, continues to commit to new fossil fuel exports, which will exacerbate the global climate crises—as though these are separate issues.

We simply can't pretend that even though it's Australia's policies that have led to Australian companies digging up Australian fossil fuels we simply have no responsibility for the carbon emissions released as a result. That's why amendment (3) requires that Australia's scope 3 emissions—the emissions we export overseas—be included in the minister's annual climate change statements. This would ensure that the public cannot not be misled when it comes to Australia's huge contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions and puts our fossil fuel exports front and centre.

As I've said before in this place, the overall goal is to reduce the amount of carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere, and we cannot lose sight of this. This isn't a question of whether Australia must report on scope 3 emissions according to international law or whether these emissions are counted in some other country's database—no. Regardless of whether we plan to export it or burn it here, what matters is that we leave Australian coal, oil and gas in the ground—and when we do dig it up, we need to account for it. Amendment (3) requires the government to report to the parliament on what we are doing to ensure that this is the case in the future.

Time is rapidly running out to reduce emissions and to mitigate the worst of the extreme impacts of climate change. There is so much opportunity for Australia in the energy transition, and we should be taking a lead on the international stage, not sitting on our hands. Amendments (1), (2) and (3) reflect this ambition, and I call on all members to support them.

10:58 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

The government will not be supporting these amendments. I do not want to belabour or delay the House. I think the reasons for the government's 43 per cent target have been very explicitly explained before the election. It's the target for which we sought a mandate during the election and after the election, and we'll be sticking with that policy. For all the reasons the Prime Minister has made very clear, a mandate is something that we on this side of the House very much respect.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is the amendments moved by the member for Clark be disagreed to.

11:15 am

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move the revised Greens amendments (1) and (2) to the Climate Change Bill 2022:

(1)   Clause 10, page 5 (line 10), omit "43%", substitute "at least 75%".

(2)   Clause 10, page 5 (line 16), omit "2050", substitute "2035 and working towards negative emissions thereafter".

We are doing this presumably because we want to stop dangerous climate change. What we know is that the planet is like the human body: there is a narrow temperature range within which it can exist and still be healthy. If you heat up the human body too much and go beyond that acceptable range you start to get sick, organs can start to fail, systems can start to collapse. You might not know how much damage is done but you will do damage that might be irreparable. Heated up beyond that, death almost certainly follows. The planet is the same. The planet has a guardrail of acceptable temperatures, and we know what they are because that is what was signed up to in the Paris Agreement.

Scientists have made it crystal clear that, beyond two degrees of global heating, runaway climate change may become unstoppable. Feedback loops may kick in and it might be too late for our kids and grandkids to do what is necessary to fix it. They have also given us a clear indication that at two degrees, and even if we stop it going over two, we will say goodbye to the Great Barrier Reef, crops will start to fail, and in the Murray-Darling Basin you will be looking at substantial collapse in agricultural productivity during the lifetime of today's primary school students.

The Paris Agreement also says we should keep alive the hopes of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees. That is something our Pacific Islanders are crying out for because they know that if it gets to two degrees and we don't stop at 1½ degrees, their homes will disappear. Even 1½ degrees would mean a scarier world than what we have now. It would mean certain crop failures in Australia. It would mean worse fires and floods than the ones we are seeing at the moment. We have already hit one-and-a-bit degrees and we have to stop the world heating by 1½ degrees, so if we hit two degrees, say goodbye to the Great Barrier Reef. Large parts of Australia will start to become uninhabitable if we go above that, and we may never be able to stop climate change. That is why we are doing this. We are not doing this just to have a little bit of pollution reduction; we are doing this to stop us going over the cliff.

To meet those targets, we have been told what we need to do. Unfortunately, because the coalition took us backwards for so long, we now need to move faster. When someone has made the problem worse, we need to act more quickly to fix it, not slow down. The Climate Council, the climate targets authority, our Pacific Island neighbours and the world's scientists have all said very clearly: if you want to stop global warming exceeding two degrees, you need to have at least 50 per cent cut, but if you want to limited to 1½ degrees, to give us a chance of the reef surviving and the 60,000 jobs that depend on it, to give the Pacific Islanders what they are asking for and what indeed I think this government just signed up to a couple of weeks ago when it signed up to a communique that said it was committed to limiting global heating to 1½ degrees, then you need pollution cuts of 75 per cent. That is crystal clear. That is the science. That is why we are doing this. Anything less and you are giving up on 1½ degrees.

As the member for Ryan eloquently put it yesterday, you've got to understand what Labor's targets mean. Labor's targets mean—according to the Climate Council and the Climate Targets Panel—overshooting two degrees. That's what they mean. If you think what we're now seeing is bad, with the fires and floods, Labor's targets mean it will be twice as bad. They mean twice as much heating in our planet, which will mean an exponential lift in the risk to human life and the risk to our environment. We're not doing this just to cut pollution by a little bit; we are doing this to try and stop climate change becoming a runaway chain reaction. So, the next time there are fires or floods, or when we see the Great Barrier Reef bleaching next, know that that is what Labor targets are all about. That is what they are designed to achieve: two degrees or more of heating. Climate Analytics and the Climate Council all say that. We need to do better. We need to support these amendments.

11:20 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

The government won't be supporting these amendments, in line with the reasons I outlined earlier in relation to the amendments moved by the honourable member for Clark. The government's position is that 43 per cent emissions reduction is the modelled impact of the results of our policies. It's what we regard as necessary to get to net zero by 2050, and it's the policy we will continue to implement.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendments moved by the member for Melbourne be disagreed to.

11:36 am

Allegra Spender (Wentworth, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

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

(1) Clause 12, page 7 (line 16) to page 7 (line 18), omit paragraph (1)(d), substitute:

(d) the effectiveness of the Commonwealth's policies in contributing to the achievement of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and reducing emissions in the sectors covered by those policies.

I'd like to give some explanation to everybody here about why I've put forward this amendment. There are two changes that I'd like the government and the House to consider. The bill, as drafted, would require the minister to make an annual statement to parliament about Australia's progress in reducing emissions, relevant international developments, the government's climate change policies and the effectiveness of the government's climate change policies.

My first change would require that the statement consider, sector by sector, the impact of policies. It is important that Australians can see the progress being made by each sector of the economy and understand where climate policies are effective and where they are not. I hope this would bolster the government's sector-by-sector-specific plans, setting out targets and measures that would provide certainty for businesses, investors and other stakeholders.

My second change would require the statement to consider the effectiveness of the government's policies in general, rather than climate policy specifically. This is a subtle change but an important one. It will allow the minister, with advice from the Climate Change Authority, to consider the impact of the government's policies which may be making the emissions reduction task more difficult, such as fossil fuel subsidies. Transparency will help to inform the public debate and allow voters to take an informed view of the full cost of government policies.

I believe these changes are reasonable and sensible and will help us make progress towards emissions reduction. I hope that the government and others in this place will seriously consider supporting them.

Finally, I'd like to thank the minister and the rest of the crossbench, as well as the government, for their engagement over the bill. It's been an example of the kind of collaboration I think we need in this place. It has been respectful and cooperative and, I believe, constructive.

11:38 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very happy to support the amendment, and the government will support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Wentworth. She has suggested a range of ways that sectoral policies could be considered in this approach, some of which I disagree with and some of which I agree with. I appreciate her moving an amendment which I indicated we could support. I think reflecting sectorial approaches to emissions reduction, which are very important, in the minister's annual statement to parliament is a very sensible thing to do. I think the honourable member's amendment is well crafted and very supportable.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by the member for Wentworth be agreed to.

11:52 am

Kylea Tink (North Sydney, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I move the amendment to the Climate Change Bill 2022 circulated in my name:

(1) Clause 14, page 9 (lines 4 and 5), omit "must publish a copy of that advice on its website.", substitute:

must:

(a) publish a copy of that advice on its website; and

(b) cause a copy of that advice to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after giving the advice to the Minister.

The amendment I am moving today relates to part 4 of the bill, which outlines the advisory functions of the Climate Change Authority. The Climate Change Authority is charged with giving the minister advice that relates to the minister's preparation of an annual climate change statement. By amending clause 14, page 9, of the Climate Change Bill 2022 I am seeking to strengthen the parliamentary transparency over this advice. The amendment would have the effect of causing the written advice the Climate Change Authority prepares to the minister to be tabled within 15 sitting days, rather than simply being put on a website somewhere at an unspecified time, or, worse still, potentially being lost in a minister's tray.

The initial draft that was shared with me as a member of the crossbench some weeks ago relied heavily on putting parliamentary and public trust in the climate change minister to do the right thing. As I said earlier in the debate, the truth is that while that may work, in this current situation it's not good enough when it comes to legislating for sustainable, positive change. I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the minister and his team to increase the role of the parliament—all members of parliament—to increase transparency and enable greater insight into what advice has been received from where and when. This amendment is one which will help ensure our climate policy will be kept on track, regardless of which major party may be in government.

11:54 am

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very happy to support this amendment. It would always be my intention to table any advice anyway, as the honourable member knows. I accept the logic of her suggestion. I'd be surprised, frankly, if any honourable member thought that a minister shouldn't table associated advice in the House, but that's up to other honourable members to decide.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by the member for North Sydney be agreed to.

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.

12:06 pm

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

The government is happy to support this amendment. This reflects good-faith discussions. The honourable member for Warringah had a range of suggestions, some of which I had some concerns with. I thank her for amending those words and taking those concerns on board. Again, it's a sign of a parliament working well and collaboratively. I think her amendment is a very sound one. It would always be my intention, and the government's intention, to seek CCA advice for any significant change to the NDC, but this clarifies and confirms that.

In relation to the honourable member's question about the operation of the review of the consequential amendments act, I must say that from my point of view, the government's point of view, it is mainly to consider what other government organisations can and should be impacted. Of course, if there are sensible suggestions that come forward as part of that review, we would consider them in good faith.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by the member for Warringah be agreed to.

12:15 pm

Elizabeth Watson-Brown (Ryan, Australian Greens) 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 5), after subclause (3), insert:

(3A) The advice given under subsection (1) must include an explanation of how the greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets have taken into account the matters set out in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement, including the global goals of:

(a) holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and

(b) pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

If we're to prevent catastrophic climate change, we must keep global temperature rises as low as possible and not pass dangerous tipping points. The Paris Agreement recognised this reality when it set the temperature thresholds that must not be crossed. Article 2 of the Paris Agreement committed countries, including Australia, to:

… Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change …

It is these temperature goals that must inform Australia's climate targets and therefore any assessment by the Climate Change Authority of what Australia's future climate target should be, including Australia's nationally determined contribution for 2035.

In 2014 the Climate Change Authority produced its progress and targets review, which, guided by temperature thresholds, assessed what Australia's fair share of emissions reduction should be to stay within those thresholds. The Liberals then stripped the Climate Change Authority of its requirement to advise on targets. We welcome the requirement that the Climate Change Authority once again advise on emissions targets, and it is critical that it now again adopts the same approach. This amendment will ensure that when the Climate Change Authority again provides such advice, as is required in this bill, it will follow the same approach as in 2014 and be explicitly guided by the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

The amendment does this by adding a new subclause 3A to clause 15 of the bill, stating that the advice given by the Climate Change Authority under subsection (1) of clause 15 of the bill must include an explanation of how the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets have taken into account the matters set out in article 2 of the Paris Agreement, including the global goals of (a) holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and (b) pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

The importance of the Climate Change Authority deriving Australia's target from the remaining carbon budget so as to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement is reinforced by the inadequacy of the targets offered by governments in recent times. Climate scientists, using the same methodology as the Climate Change Authority, have determined that Australia's 2030 target to stay below two degrees would be 50 per cent and to stay below 1.5 degrees would be 74 per cent. This amendment requires this methodology to be once more followed by the Climate Change Authority.

In the course of negotiations by the Greens with the government on this bill, this amendment has been agreed to by the government, and I thank the government for their agreement to the amendment. I commend the amendment to the House.

12:18 pm

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

As the honourable member for Ryan said, holding temperature rises to the level well below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is of course the entire reason for the efforts that the world is taking. I do agree, and the government does agree, that this should be reflected in the CCA's advice. This is a well-founded amendment, which, as the honourable member said, the government will support.

For the benefit of honourable members, this is the last amendment. Under the debate management motion there will be no third reading speeches, so I take this opportunity to thank the House for its patience. I particularly thank honourable members who've contributed. I particularly thank honourable members who pointed out that this is a good day for our country, that renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy, that renewable energy is the key to reducing emissions and seizing the jobs opportunity that is the climate emergency.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by the member for Ryan be agreed to.

12:28 pm

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question now is that the bills, as amended, be agreed to.

12:35 pm

Monique Ryan (Kooyong, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—During the second reading amendment moved by the member for Melbourne today, I cast my vote for the noes. This was not my intention. I wish to inform the House I intended to vote with the ayes. I thank the House.

12:36 pm

Photo of Darren ChesterDarren Chester (Gippsland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—I share your pain, member for Kooyong. At least you've been here for about 14 days. I've been here 14 years and I've made the same mistake. For the record, I inadvertently voted in a manner I did not intend to during an earlier division. I was engaged in a very lively discussion with the member for Lyons and I simply made a mistake. I fully support the coalition's position on the climate change bills and consequential amendments, and humbly apologise to my leadership team and my colleagues for my mistake and misadventure. I congratulate the member for Lyons for his engaging and quite distracting conversational skills. It was a matter of tactical brilliance by the member for Lyons!