House debates

Monday, 20 March 2023

Private Members' Business

Climate Change

11:01 am

Photo of Anne StanleyAnne Stanley (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) climate change will cause irreversible damage to Australia's unique ecosystem;

(b) communities across Australia are experiencing the impacts of more severe natural disasters attributable to climate change;

(c) action on climate change is beneficial both environmentally and economically;

(d) delaying action will lead to lost opportunities for Australia and worsening climate impacts;

(e) the hydrogen industry will be a key component of the transition to a low-emissions economy, and could add $50 billion to Australia's gross domestic product and support 16,000 jobs by 2050; and

(f) the former Government's lack of policy certainty on energy and climate change led to a wasted decade;

(2) acknowledges that:

(a) the Government's legislated emissions reduction targets of 43 per cent by 2030, and net-zero by 2050 provide certainty for investment in low emissions technology;

(b) the establishment of a Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS) will drive the uptake of new renewable dispatchable capacity and support the Government's target of 82 per cent renewable energy in the electricity grid by 2030;

(c) Australia has signed the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030; and

(d) the Government has continued to invest in Australia's hydrogen industry and has fostered international partnerships to establish Australia as a major hydrogen exporter; and

(3) recognises that:

(a) climate action is important to Australia's Pacific neighbours; and

(b) the Australian people voted for greater action on climate change and the Government is delivering.

Climate has been used as a political football over the last 10 years, used to score points and divide communities rather than improve our society. The last decade has seen 22 energy policies, but not one has improved the lives of Australians and instead they have left us in the mess that we are in currently with rising power bills and limited supply. Australia should have been, with its enviable position, at the forefront of new and emerging technologies. We have all the raw materials and the expertise here ready to provide Australians what they want: greener, cleaner and available energy to power homes, businesses and their future. Instead, all the inaction has left us languishing.

However, since coming to office the Albanese Labor government has turned this around, and the list is impressive. We have strengthened Australia's 2030 emissions reduction target to 43 per cent. We have passed the first real climate change bill in a decade through the parliament. We have hosted the Sydney Energy Forum with energy ministers from key allied countries. We have signed the Australia-US Net Zero Technology Acceleration Partnership. We have signed a $200 million climate and infrastructure partnership with Indonesia. We have endorsed at the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting a bid to host COP 29. We have agreed to the Energy Market Operator's Integrated System Plan to upgrade our electricity grid.

We have made sure that the Renewable Energy Agency can't invest in things like coal and gas. We passed the electric car tax discount through the House of Representatives, making EVs more affordable. We have established Australia's first real National Electric Vehicle Strategy. We have limited the amount of sulphur in petrol, saving millions in health related costs. We have expanded the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme. We have announced the first areas of offshore wind development in Australia. We have appointed an Australian ambassador for climate change. We have signed a partnership to jointly fund the critical Marinus Link transmission project. We have signed an agreement to jointly fund Victorian offshore wind projects, REZs and the Victoria to New South Wales connector. We have tightened noxious emissions standards for trucks and buses.

We've also announced $224 million for the Community Batteries for Household Solar Program to deploy 400 community-scale batteries for almost 100,000 Australian households. We've announced $102 million for community solar banks for 25,000 Australians living in apartments, rentals and low-income households. We've announced $63.9 million to invest in dispatchable storage technologies such as large-scale battery projects. We've announced $62.6 million for Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium Enterprises to reduce their energy use and lower their energy bills. We've announced $83.8 million to develop and deploy First Nation community microgrid projects for remote communities. We are continuing to reform the safeguard mechanisms to reduce emissions from Australia's biggest emitters and review the ACCUs so that we have confidence in our carbon credit system. This isn't a complete list, and we are continuing to work every day to bring about these changes.

The Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Investment have urged bipartisan support for the government's measures, including the reforms to the safeguard mechanism. Renewable investors are already responding positively to the Albanese government's strong emissions reduction targets and stable policy environment. Business understands this, industry understands this and the unions understand this. The 2022 emission project report and annual statement show that the actions and policies of this government so far have placed Australia on track for 40 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. That is, we've lifted the outlook by a third in just the first six months of our government. What is further promising is that the projections do not yet include the Powering Australia measures, such as some elements of the Powering the Regions Fund and the National Electric Vehicle Strategy. Policies that our government received a mandate for and are working on implementing will result in the 43 per cent.

This is a cause for optimism, and the shift that has occurred over a short time since the May election means that we will meet our projections, and we will be a cleaner, greener place. Australia can be a renewable energy superpower, and we can be part of the solution to climate change.

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Daniel MulinoDaniel Mulino (Fraser, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

11:06 am

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

I thank the member for Werriwa for putting forward this motion today on climate action—a motion with which I disagree. I do believe we need to recognise that the vast majority of Australians do want action on climate change. The need for action on climate change is not up for debate in this House, in this parliament. Both sides of the parliament believe in the need for action. Indeed, the coalition demonstrated that in government. Over our period in government, emissions were reduced by more than 20 per cent. In our last year of government, Australia saw its annual rate of emissions 77 million tonnes lower than when we came to government in 2013. Indeed, investment in renewables was at an all-time high. We not only smashed our Kyoto targets but were well on track to beat our Paris Agreement targets. And of course it was the coalition government that signed Australia up to the goal of net zero by 2050.

The challenge here is often about getting the balance right—the balance with the economy. So yes, we did see emissions come down by more than 20 per cent under the coalition. But the economy also grew by more than 23 per cent. It's all about striking that balance. And it's on that balance where the government is now starting to lose its way when it comes to its climate and energy agenda. I point to (1)(c) in the member's motion, where she states:

action on climate change is beneficial both environmentally and economically;

Well, it can be. Under the coalition it was; under Labor it isn't.

This gives rise to the key area of difference between the coalition and Labor when it comes to action on climate change. There is no argument around why to take action but rather around how. It's all around the question of how. How do we decarbonise the Australian economy? Labor has lost its balance, and we see it here through the member's motion. It is very biased to specific technologies. Instead of taking a pragmatic approach where all the above is necessary, the Labor government is doubling down on its very selected set of technologies. Unlike most of our peer nations across the world, this government has decided that gas in particular must be removed from the Australian economy. The failure of this entire motion from the member for Werriwa to address gas goes to the heart of the problem.

The Albanese Labor government is trying to kill gas in the Australian economy. Now, we know that because it removed gas from the capacity mechanism. It refused to accept the Kurri Kurri plant as a gas plant, seeking to change that design, therefore leading to a very unfortunate postponement of the Kurri Kurri plant. We know that the changes it made through the gas intervention just before Christmas have heightened sovereign risk and that, as a result, we have a lot of gas companies now holding back on their investments. Also, the changes they are looking at with the ADGSM are causing a similar impact, where gas companies are now holding back. They ripped $100 million out of the budget for gas projects.

Then only last week we saw two big pieces of news this this area, and this goes to the scoreboard that those opposite should be looking at. The first piece of news was the draft DMO that said energy prices on Australia's east coast will be going up by between another 20 per cent and over 30 per cent, depending on where you are. Secondly, AEMO came out and pointed to a dramatic shortfall in gas, which is threatening the reliability of our grid moving forward. Lastly, I would say to those opposite that, as you focus on the how, you also need to demonstrate emissions, since you failed on prices and you failed on reliability. So far, you are falling short of your emissions target. We never did.

11:11 am

Photo of Tania LawrenceTania Lawrence (Hasluck, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On 18 September 1987, the Hon. Barry Jones, minister for science in the Hawke government, stood in the House and described what was then referred to as the 'greenhouse effect' as:

… a classic illustration of how if we are only prepared to plan five years, 10 years, 15 years or 20 years down the track all the dangers that are feared can be avoided.

Climate change is now real and present. As Barack Obama quoted:

We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.

The Australian Research Council's recent report on the state of weather and climate extremes outlines the year of record-breaking extreme events experienced in Australia last year. Climate change is no longer on the horizon. It is no longer just within the purview of a prescient and lonely minister for science. Now it is squarely before the Minister for Emergency Management, the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Defence and every other minister, and now we have an extremely busy Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

The legislation and programs this government is currently putting in place require a consensus across the parliament—if not a consensus on the best way to move forward, at least a consensus on the fact that man-made climate warming requires man-made climate solutions. As the saying goes, trust in God but tether your camel. We need to agree on the emissions targets set in legislation and to agree that they are floors, not ceilings; that engagement with our trading partners requires serious commitment to emissions reductions; that we are in a position to benefit from development, new industries and new supply chains; and that first-mover advantages exist only for first movers and that we haven't moved for many years.

We need to meet the challenges posed by the US Inflation Reduction Act and the responses to it in Europe and other countries. We need to look for ways to leverage our natural advantages to refine more of our resources at home and at source. We need to move energy production to the sites of manufacture and, alternatively, move manufacture to the sites of energy production. We need to become a leader in our region so that our successes and progress towards our emissions goals and renewable targets can be an inspiration and a model for our near neighbours, who are then perhaps most likely to become long-term customers of our green energy production. We need to have incentives and disincentives in place, like the safeguard mechanism, to underpin action across the economy, and we need the investment environment that the National Reconstruction Fund will provide to ensure that our innovators can find a foothold each step of the way.

Just a few days ago in Hazelmere, in my electorate of Hasluck, as part of the site visit hosted by Fortescue Futures Industries for the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, I stood dwarfed by the wheel of a dump truck that runs on electricity powered by green hydrogen. It's a working prototype, and that company aims to have its whole fleet of over 200 vehicles powered by renewables by 2030. It's a picture of what is possible with commitment from industry and support from government.

Following the site visit on Friday last week at the committee's public hearing in Perth, we heard from the WA government, the Future Battery Industries CRC and the Perth USAsia Centre. One common thread to their submissions was that we need to act now to maximise the benefits of the economic opportunities that present themselves in what is otherwise a time of crisis. The US has taken action with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act last year, which according to Forbes magazine, and I agree, has transformed the US from laggard to leader in climate change.

Australia has been a laggard for 10 years, but no longer. In every area where we can now be a leader, we have a moral, political and economic imperative to lead. As the Climate Council and others have stressed, the process of greening the energy requirements and decarbonisation for much of our industries—across steel, aluminium, chemical and fertilisers, mining, concrete, batteries and others—can also be a process of bringing manufacturing onshore. Of course, there is still more to do, such as harmonising our regulatory framework across the states and the Commonwealth, creating an efficient approvals process and establishing an integrated transition network that is agnostic about the energy molecule. The parliament has a duty to assist in bedding down the programs that will make a difference.

We are taking action, and every one of those actions will be reviewed because none of us have the luxury of sacrificing the good for the perfect. Ross Garnaut states in The Superpower Transformation: building Australia's zero-carbon future that if we take the opportunities open to us this country can be responsible for up to eight per cent of the emissions reductions that the world needs. Let's get on with it.

11:16 am

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

I thank the Member for Werriwa for this motion. Climate change is already causing irreversible damage to our ecosystems. As the latest State of the environmentreport shows, 377 of the 1,900 threatened species in Australia were listed in the last decade alone. This trend will continue with climate change, as will the trend of record-setting disasters that devastate communities in the country and the region happening back-to-back and ever closer together. Storms, floods, fires, droughts—rinse and repeat—sounds exhausting because it is. Ask the people of Lismore.

To quote the head of the climate and security policy centre of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Dr Robert Glasser, in telling testimony to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade public hearings last week:

… we're moving from thinking of disasters as a single event … to multiple record-setting events happening simultaneously … and those multiple simultaneous events are causing systemic changes.

These systemic changes include—as Dr Glasser and other experts like the RAND Corporation, which has been studying the matters for a decade, conclude—the viability of Australian and regional democracy itself. As Dr Andrew Dowse from RAND Australia put it at the same hearings:

These risks can cascade and lead to food insecurity, instability and even conflict.

What's required is cohesive, intersecting, whole-of-government policy across portfolios, not just in the climate change portfolio but also in industry, agriculture, foreign and regional affairs, trade, national security, environment and health as well as education and science. This requires cohesive, intersecting policy-making—across portfolios—that doesn't contradict itself, such as by setting climate targets while cutting down native forest and approving new coal and gas. It's not about just investing more in certain technologies or industries, although these economic opportunities will be crucial.

Without action and a shift to cleaner, greener, more efficient and cheaper manufacturing and technologies our children will not see the benefits of well-paid, highly skilled and secure employment. Without action on climate change, our prosperity is at risk. According to the CSIRO, if Australia fails to address climate change adequately, real wages will be 50 per cent lower in 2060 than if we take all the steps needed. GDP growth will slow by 0.7 per cent per year. This should alarm all Australians. Indeed, without embracing technology change amid our climate policies, the IPCC has predicted that Australian living standards, wages and productivity will decline by mid-century. This task is one that requires a climate lens to everything we do.

Dr Glasser warned of the very real risks to democracy, governance, and national and regional security caused by this cascading collision of consequences from escalating climate change. One very pertinent example he highlighted is that increasing dependence on the Australian Defence Force to maintain order, effectively to perform as military police, could erode respect for the role of the ADF, and if that is undermined it will challenge faith in Australia's democracy. And not just here, Dr Glasser points out that the Indonesian archipelago accounts for 11 per cent of total global coastline exposed to climate induced sea level rise and has the fastest sea level rise in the world by far. We have seen historically how spikes in food prices, notably cooking oil and rice, have sparked conflict and instability in Indonesia. Indeed, it was one of the reasons for the fall of the Suharto regime. It means, says Dr Glasser, climate change will create space for non-state actors to fill the gaps and also for transnational terrorism to thrive.

In the face of all of this, the current government is taking some steps—some, but not enough. Take the safeguard mechanism legislation currently before the House. As it currently stands the mechanism would mean that some of our biggest polluters can continue to ramp up production. Australia's coal and gas exports can continue to increase and the safeguard gives them a green tick to do so. The safeguard mechanism should be about integrity and accountability. We cannot account our way to zero. We owe true emissions reduction to our children and to our communities.

11:21 am

Photo of Andrew CharltonAndrew Charlton (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am proud to rise today in support of this motion and I thank the member for Werriwa for bringing this issue forward. There was once a time when people spoke about climate change as a challenge for future generations. Its predicted impacts were long into the future—well, not anymore. Climate change has moved from a theory to an evidence-based prediction to a current reality. In my electorate of Parramatta people experience searing hot summers, their daily activities are affected by urban heat and our city is under annual threat from devastating floods. Today no Australian is immune from the impacts of climate change.

Until recently, Australia wasn't acting on this challenge. We lagged behind as the world moved forward in tackling climate change. We had a lack of policy certainty; a last-minute, half-hearted commitment from the former government; a decade of progress and potential wasted. That was what the former government delivered on one of the biggest challenges of our generation.

For a decade Liberal leaders fuelled the culture war and spent their time playing politics over delivering climate change policies. Tony Abbott said in 2009 that the science of human caused climate change was 'crap'. If that wasn't bad enough, he said, in a speech in London, that climate change was, 'probably doing good'. Malcolm Turnbull, that very same year, said his own party did not believe in human caused global warming. In total, the coalition has had 22 different climate policies and five leaders, none of whom have had any coherence on this issue. Not one of them has been able to land a coherent climate policy.

For a decade the coalition saw climate change as a political discussion that needed to be shut down, pushed aside and silenced, but in doing so they missed the voices of businesses across Australia who cried out for leadership on this issue. For a decade they got no leadership. For a decade they got no certainty. And now, as business moves towards net zero with concrete plans and targets, they have left the coalition behind. They haven't got the certainty that they needed. For the Liberal Party, the self-proclaimed party of business, to be left behind by business on this issue, to provide no leadership to that constituency, to be sitting on the sidelines while businesses are making plans to hit their targets to implement concrete plans to reduce their emissions is a disgrace.

In May the Australia people voted to end this chaos, and this government hasn't wasted a day in delivering a cleaner future for Australia. One of the things we did as a government was to legislate an ambitious but achievable emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050. This is an important step towards providing real certainty to investors in low-emissions technology and research. We have made strides in showing the world that Australia is back and open for business when it comes to cooperation on climate change action. Since May we have hosted the Sydney Energy Forum and energy ministers from key ally countries, we've signed the Australia-US Net Zero Technology Acceleration Partnership and we've signed a $200 million climate and infrastructure partnership with Indonesia.

The member for Cook once stood up in front of the world at COP26 and claimed that we are acting on climate change 'the Australian way'. The Australian way, I'm happy to say, is no longer to lock ourselves an echo chamber of climate scepticism and denial. It's no longer to fail to provide business certainty. It's no longer to ignore the realities of climate change impacting the daily lives of Australians. Thanks to the Albanese Labor government, the Australian way is now to act on climate change while working cooperatively with other nations. The Australian way on climate change is to address this future challenge while delivering good jobs for Australian workers. The Australian way is to provide certainty for business across the country. Most importantly, the Australian way is to be truthful and frank about this challenge and how much worse it would be if we do not act now.

11:26 am

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

I thank the member for Werriwa for this motion and acknowledge that the government is at least doing something to address the challenge of climate change. But let's get real. It's not enough. At midnight tonight the UN IPCC will release the synthesis report unveiling key findings of climate change from the last seven-year cycle. It won't be pretty.

The situation is dire, particularly in Australia. Catastrophes between July 2021 and July 2022 have cost the insurance industry some $5.28 billion on the east coast, predominantly from the floods, to give just one small example. By 2050 it is expected to be in the vicinity of $39 billion per year. In Australia the extinction rate of native species is the worst in the world, and yet we continue to increase native forest logging and there is not been a commitment by either Labor or the coalition to end immediately native forest logging.

We need to set greater ambitions. The government set a political target for the 2022 election to be less bad on climate than the coalition. That does not make it a good actor on climate change. We urgently need to set a 2035 target that is meaningful to give business and industry the investment road map to plan ahead. Australian state governments are broadly committed to at least 70 to 80 per cent by 2035. The UK is committed to 78 per cent by 2035. Germany is committed to 88 per cent emissions reduction by 2040. We need to set a trajectory for greater action. When the Albanese government passed its Climate Change Act late last year, setting as a floor its political ambition of 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, it acknowledged that this was a floor and not a ceiling. Let's get real about where the next target needs to be if we are going to be meaningful. It must be 75 per cent by 2035 as a minimum the government must aim for to comply with the goal of the Paris Agreement and limiting warming to close to 1.5 degrees. The rest of the world is acting. We need to step up to our responsibility.

The US Inflation Reduction Act is a US$400 billion to US$800 billion government fund that is pulling huge amounts of capital skills and knowledge to the US. If we don't respond, it will have a huge impact on Australia's ability to realise its potential as a renewable energy superpower. We can't just say the words; we actually have to match it with policy for it to happen. This motion highlights the opportunity of green hydrogen, and I agree. Deloitte analysis shows that the US IRA threatens the development of that industry in Australia. It will delay the commencement of scaled production to 2035, and that will reduce our potential exports by 65 per cent annually by 2050.

The EU has recognised this risk and just last week announced its response: the Net Zero Industry Act, alongside its Critical Raw Materials Act, representing a direct climate and investment strategy to respond to the US IRA. These policies aim to onshore manufacturing of at least 40 per cent of clean technologies by 2030. The Gulf states are also responding and getting ahead of Australia. We need a concerted government response to crowd in the $3.3 trillion in private super wealth and seize this nation-building opportunity. Capital and production follow certainty, ambition and strategic government investment. Last week German company Volkswagen threatened to prioritise, over other jurisdictions, a US based $16 billion battery plant in response to the IRA. Fortescue Metals and Woodside Energy have highlighted that they will pursue green hydrogen investments in the US ahead of Australia on the basis of those subsidies available. There is no matching policy from the government.

We have to talk about methane. This motion highlights that the government has signed on to the 30 by 30 pledge to reduce methane emissions, yet, to date, there has been nothing from the government to actually do something about methane emissions. The safeguard mechanism is before parliament, and it is an opportunity to introduce world-leading practice to Australia's largest emitters of methane outside of the agricultural sector. Methane is 26 times more potent at capturing warming that CO2. It must be addressed. I've put forward amendments, and we've had constructive discussions, but the government needs to come to the table with a real commitment when it comes to those emissions. I welcome this motion, but we have a lot more to do.

11:31 am

Photo of Jerome LaxaleJerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Werriwa for bringing this motion to this place because we know that the impact of climate change on our planet is a grave threat to the safety and wellbeing of our communities. We have a responsibility to act now and to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. Australia has long been known for its pristine natural beauty, from the Great Barrier Reef to the vast expanses of the outback. However, we cannot afford to take this beauty for granted any longer. Our planet is facing unprecedented levels of carbon emissions, rising sea levels and extreme weather events, all of which profoundly impact our environment and economy.

In May last year the people of Australia made it clear with their votes that they wanted a government committed to taking strong action on climate change. Climate was one of the top issues in Bennelong and was why voters changed their vote for the first time in nearly a decade. Like many here, I'm here to listen my community's voice and to do my bit to make sure that this government takes strong action on climate change because we simply don't have time to continue fighting on this. We have to work together to find innovative solutions to reduce our carbon footprint, promote renewable energy and protect our environment. Caring for the environment and reducing emissions should not be political. We know that those from the far left and those from the far right have used climate to wedge governments, particularly Labor governments. Because of that, we've lost a decade of action. Emissions were going down under a former Labor government, and that was all unpicked and politicised. Because of the far left and the far right we've gone backwards, and that simply has to end.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 was the hottest year on record, with the national mean temperature 1.52 degrees above the 30-year average that came before it. Of the five hottest years on record, four occurred between 2016 and 2019. Long-term heatwaves are increasing the risk of devastating bushfires, reducing crop yields and negatively impacting our great native flora and fauna. With huge increases in droughts, bushfires, floods and rising sea levels, on top of the heatwaves and coral bleaching, it's too late to continue to deny that climate change isn't real and isn't genuinely impacting our country. This is why we elected a new government.

In May last year the Liberals, who took little-to-no meaningful action to protect our environment and to reduce emissions, were voted out. After a decade of wasted opportunity from the former government, this government hasn't wasted a day in implementing the mandate we were given at the last election. In less than a year we've strengthened Australia's 2030 emissions reduction target and become one of the only countries in the world to legislate that target; we've implemented Australia's first real national electric vehicles strategy; we've announced the first areas of offshore wind development in Australia, continuing on our path to becoming a renewable energy powerhouse; we've invested billions of dollars in upgrading our electricity grid to be able to handle the increased amount of renewable energy we need to reduce emissions; we've appointed an Australian ambassador for climate change; we've joined the Global Methane Pledge; we've funded community batteries right across the nation, including one in North Epping, in my very own electorate of Bennelong; and this week we'll debate a crucial piece of legislation that will force our biggest polluters to reduce their carbon emissions. Importantly, all these measures were election commitments. This government has a mandate to implement them, and once they are in place, I'll be one of many in this place to continue to push the government to go further.

We all know that these measures are just the beginning. Stability and leadership on climate policy is crucial. When governments lead on climate, our community follows. According to the 2022 emissions projection report, this government has lifted the outlook for Australian emissions reduction by one-third in the first six months of its term. So I'm more than hopeful that we'll beat our legislated 43 per cent target, working together with our community and businesses who expect us to. Over the course of this week, we'll be hearing more speakers for and against the safeguard mechanism reforms. I urge all in this place to work together to commit to taking action on climate change and not to continue to politicise this crucial policy area.

Australia used to be a leader on action on climate change. Let us return Australia to the forefront of the fight against climate change and let us ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a world that is safe, healthy and prosperous.

11:36 am

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

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.

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

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.