Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 September 2022


Climate Change Bill 2022, Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022; Second Reading

6:48 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to speak to the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022. The coalition will not support either of these bills. This is legislation that their own minister has called 'not necessary'. The minister stated:

While this legislation is not necessary for the Albanese government to embark on the policy actions we sought and received a mandate for, it is best practice.

The minister also said:

… we have designed our Powering Australia plan so that it can be implemented whether legislation passes or not …

It's difficult for me to understand that this remains such a priority for Labor if it's not necessary.

This legislation will introduce serious externalities. Why impose those consequences on the Australian economy if the legislation is not necessary? Australia has already made known its formal 43 per cent target, regardless of how the parliament deals with this legislation. The government updated Australia's nationally determined contribution, the NDC, in June. One would have thought that the priority of the government would be addressing the inflationary pressure and cost-of-living pressures that Australian families are suffering through. Amidst their broken promise to reduce power bills for families and businesses by $275, they have now overseen the highest electricity prices on record, so I repeat the call of the Leader of the Opposition: if you actually want to help Australians at the moment, keep the promise you've abandoned—reduce their power bills by $275. Rushing to legislate an emissions target does nothing to fulfil that promise. This legislation has serious problems, which will have significant unintended consequences.

I want tonight to briefly summarise the coalition's main concerns. We believe that the consultation process overlooks significant stakeholders. The government chose to alleviate itself of rural and regional concerns, instead of properly consulting with those most likely to be impacted. The legislation will invite green activists to enter vexatious claims in our legal system for political purposes. Environmental activist groups could now challenge crucial projects under Commonwealth legislation, potentially delaying or halting them altogether. Furthermore, the coalition believes that the government's Powering Australia plan is not an achievable or genuinely practical plan to firm 80 per cent renewables by 2030. We are, however, concerned that the legislation is neither equitable nor fair.

What I mean when I say that this legislation gives no consideration to how an increase in power bills could cause economic distress to families or businesses, these bills are actually also likely to restrict crucial government agencies such as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Infrastructure Australia and Export Finance Australia from supporting projects. Furthermore, there are grave concerns that these restrictions will inhibit our national security and particularly objectives in the Pacific by reducing export financing authorities' flexibility. The coalition believes that the Labor government's continued rejection of sensible debate on the latest generation nuclear power is disingenuous.

Stakeholders have spoken to us and to the inquiry that was held. Stakeholders such as the Australian Forest Products Association raised concern with the legislation as it relates to consultation—or rather, I should say, the complete lack of consultation—concerning certain aspects of the bills. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was not consulted on the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 prior to its introduction. This bill could have serious impacts on the agricultural industry as an emissions-intensive industry, for the climate change department failed to consult with the agricultural department on how this bill might impact on our primary producers. This leads me to believe that the consultation process failed in its duty to inquire into the manner in which this legislation may impact all communities. The consultation process has heightened concern because of the government's failure to conduct popular socio-economic modelling.

Whilst providing evidence the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry admitted they had done no modelling on the impacts of the Climate Change Bill and the consequential amendments bill on rural and regional Australia. The government failed to properly consult on the rural and regional perspective and failed to conduct socio-economic modelling on the impact it would have on these communities—absolutely disgraceful. Without such processes these bills may now have provisions that lead to incredibly serious unintended consequences. These are significant oversights on behalf of the government, and they should have been addressed. The government should have sought to facilitate genuine consultation and discussion around this legislation. Unfortunately, though, despite claiming they would govern under a new style of politics, the government's haste is an attempt to influence political outcomes and obviate genuine criticism and differing perspectives. As we stated in our dissenting report to the inquiry into these bills, the coalition believes rigorous consultation, modelling and social impact assessments have been overlooked in the drafting and introduction of these bills.

If the Labor Party continues to insist on passing this legislation, it will effectively have entered Australia into a new era of green lawfare. The coalition believes that these bills will invite unacceptable and fundamentally vexatious green activism into the courts and our legal system. I note the experience of other countries that have codified into law some of these pieces of legislation. The UK, in particular, has been subject to significant legal consequences as a result of the codification of emissions reduction targets. Activists in the UK have challenged crucial projects such as a new high-speed rail network, challenged government decisions to invest in the maintenance and construction of new roads because this would lead to increased traffic and thus greater emissions and delayed a third runway at Heathrow Airport for years by challenging it in the court system. The government of France has been ordered to take all necessary measures on climate change by 2022 or it will be subject to penalties by the court. In Germany the courts ordered the government to increase its emissions reductions target. These scenarios have eventuated through the legislation of emissions reductions targets. These are very real scenarios that Australia is facing now.

Disappointingly, though, at the inquiry environmental groups such as Greenpeace and others absolutely refused to rule out using this legislation to challenge agriculture, primary production, infrastructure, energy, resources or forestry projects. The coalition is gravely concerned that these may impact on access to the justice system if the court system is to be used for this. Already many of these projects are subject to significant delays, and allowing the green activism to add to the courts' workload would not be in the interest of our legal system.

The government's target of 43 per cent includes a plan to have 82 per cent renewables, under their Powering Australia Plan. The committee inquiry into these bills received evidence that this plan would actually lead to an increase in power bills. So, after breaking their promise of providing families with $275 of relief on their power bills, the government is actually going to be contributing to additional costs to families and businesses. We note the variability of renewables cannot be firmed by current battery storage technology. As outlined in our dissenting report, evidence was provided to the inquiry into these bills that current battery technology could power a city the size of Sydney for seconds if the grid failed. This is especially concerning, given that members of the government continue to demonise fossil fuels. To introduce such significant variability with no visible means with which to firm that technology would be a very large mistake. The coalition also has very serious doubts concerning the Labor government's ability to deliver on its commitment of 82 per cent renewables by 2030. Nuclear for Climate Australia, in their submission to the inquiry into these bills, said:

… its intended that emissions reductions in electricity generation throughout all sectors of the economy be achieved using renewables with storage. In view of the embodied carbon emissions in wind, solar and storage devices it is physically impossible to achieve net zero using these devices. Their constant replacement, weather dependency and lack of reliability will render methods of negative emissions such as carbon sequestration or atmospheric removal entirely uneconomic.

For Australians who are already under constant cost-of-living pressures, any rise in their power bills will have a detrimental impact on their lives. However, this legislation fails to address the economic cost of rising power bills.

We know that this government has very little concern for families who are managing very expensive power bills. Amidst the highest electricity prices on record, this Labor government has abandoned its $275-better-off plan for families. They ditched that promise. I believe that one of the primary responsibilities for government when altering energy policy is to ensure that people can keep their lights on, that they can turn the dishwasher on after 6 pm at night and that they can afford to do so. I have said this time and again and will continue to do so. These bills will put pressure on already very high cost-of-living pressures on families. This will potentially inhibit some Australians from being able to afford to keep their lights on, to keep their fridge running, to keep the air conditioning on in summer or the heater on in winter. This will have significant impact on our communities.

But what could be of greater or equal concern is the fact that this legislation could actually inhibit our national security objectives, particularly in the Pacific. Our region, I think everyone would agree, is going through a period of heightened tensions. China has certainly become more assertive in the region and is pushing its objectives into our neighbourhood via the Pacific. We have heard and we believe that reducing Export Finance Australia's ability and flexibility is not in our national interest.

Export Finance Australia do critical work supporting projects in the Pacific, and if we don't continue to provide that important support, other countries may attempt to do so on our behalf. Restricting Export Finance Australia's flexibility could lead to exactly that. If we do not support these projects, we could be opening up the door for China to do so. I and the coalition object in the strongest possible terms to any legislation which may negatively impact upon our national security objectives. But it is not just Export Finance Australia; it is also the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility supporting projects in various industries which are considered emissions-intensive. These agencies manage and support the funding of projects which create significant investment, provide economic stimulus and create jobs. But restricting their decision-making is not in the national interest and can inhibit these opportunities.

I do also want to touch on nuclear energy. For the government, with its Powering Australia plan and its calls for 82 per cent renewables in the grid, to achieve its target of 43 per cent emissions reduction, there needs to be input into the grid, more variability into the grid and it needs to be firm. Given the government's focus on reducing emissions, it would appear to me now that its continued rejection of a genuine debate—that's all, a discussion—on nuclear power is purely ideological. So the coalition urges the government to please engage in sensible discussions with us on these matters.

In closing, and I know we have a long night ahead of us because, again, in transparency we are going to push this through and maybe guillotine it at some stage, we won't be supporting these bills because we support Australians. They are founded upon unachievable policy principles, and they will have very, very serious unintended consequences. The government has in no way done adequate consultation. In fact, it looks like they have gone out of their way to not consult those sectors like agriculture, like primary reduction, like forestry that will be so affected by this. They have done no modelling of how this will impact rural and regional communities as they shut down jobs.

These bills will also increase green activism—the lawfare, the lawyers' picnic. The vexatious claims that are about to be launched will be significant. We will see a continual increase in energy prices and, as I said, this has the potential to have a very significant impact on our ability to further our national security objectives in the Pacific.

7:03 pm

Penny Allman-Payne (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak this evening to the climate change bills. I note that many of my Greens colleagues have spoken to these bills and done so with eloquence, intelligence and passion. So while I wish to make a contribution to the debate on these bills, I want to focus on a few key areas. We cannot end the climate wars while opening up new coal and gas projects. It really is that simple. In the month since these bills passed the House of Representatives, Labor has opened up 47,000 square kilometres of ocean to oil and gas exploration. The Prime Minister has said that Australia will keep on selling coal and gas to the world. Queensland Labor has given approval to the New Acland Coal Mine. These are not the actions of a party that is committed to reducing emissions.

Let me be extremely clear. The Greens will be supporting these bills, but they are a very small step forward, and Labor has committed to kicking real action on climate change to the kerb. This is a government that is captured by the likes of Woodside, Chevron and Santos. In Western Australia, literally two-thirds of all offshore gas is given away to these companies for free. The state government gets more money from vehicle registrations than it does from gas royalties. Federally, the petroleum resource rent tax is broken. Australian people are paying for the privilege of having our climate destroyed for the sake of multinational profit. That's a disgrace. While these bills go nowhere near far enough, we are pleased to have secured improvements. The Greens have made sure that Labor's unscientific target of 43 per cent is a minimum, and we are aiming to see that target raised substantially. We've made sure that the Climate Change Authority will be guided by the global temperature goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Crucially, large financing bodies such as Export Finance Australia and Infrastructure Australia will have to consider climate targets when financing projects. This is significant, as these bodies have been vehicles for significant fossil fuel financing.

Finally, the government has agreed to consider our proposals for a national energy transition authority to support coal and gas communities and give them control over their futures as Australia tackles the climate crisis. There is a real opportunity here for collaboration on protecting workers and their communities, and ensuring an equitable transition to renewable energy that ensures well-paid employment and world-class services for those communities. I look forward to working with the government to get this done and to meaningfully deliver for working people in fossil fuel communities like mine. But a national energy transition authority will have its work cut out managing the transition for existing fossil fuel projects. There are 114 coal and gas projects in the pipeline at the moment. Even a single one would blow Labor's target out of the water and make a mockery of any commitment to transitioning workers and their communities. The Labor Party might think that they can keep exporting coal and gas for decades to come, but the reality is that our international partners will stop buying it. If Labor intends to achieve even their inadequate target of 43 per cent, not one of the 114 coal and gas mines currently green-lighted can go ahead.

Whilst the Greens will vote for the climate bill, this bill cannot be the be-all and end-all of climate action. We will fight tooth and nail against all new coal and gas projects, and we will make sure that workers engaged in existing fossil fuel projects are protected and given secure, well-paid jobs in their communities.

7:08 pm

Photo of Jess WalshJess Walsh (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022. What a historic moment this is, because these bills mark the end of the climate wars in this country, the end of 10 years of inaction and the end of 10 years of division and denial by those opposite. We are in a global race, and now Australia is taking our place in that race—a race to prevent the devastating climate events that are destroying communities and regions here and around the world, and a race to seize the opportunities of a decarbonised world, including bringing the jobs of the renewables future right here to our shores. With the Climate Change Bill that is exactly what we are doing.

This bill sends the signal that the Albanese government is committed to action on climate change—a signal that gives certainty to our region, to investors, to Australian businesses, and to this parliament—because this bill is also a commitment that our government will not just announce a target and hope we get there. We won't use accounting tricks or rely on future technologies that may or may not ever exist. We will be held accountable to our targets, and we will deliver our plan to not just meet them but exceed them. We'll report our progress every year to the parliament on meeting the targets and how our policies are contributing to that success. Our government knows Australia should be a renewables superpower. We know Australia should be leading this global race and securing the jobs of the future for Australian workers, and now we can do just that.

I am incredibly proud that my home state of Victoria is leading Australia's transition to the renewables future. The Andrews government, led by Australia's longest serving climate change minister, the Hon. Lily D'Ambrosio, were the one of the first in the world to legislate a net zero emissions by 2050 target, and to make sure those targets are met they've made the largest investment in clean energy of any state ever, $1.6 billion to identify and create renewable energy zones that support businesses, jobs and towns across regional Victoria to transition to new industry, ensuring maximum benefit for local communities by delivering thousands of good secure jobs and billions of dollars in new economic activity. To ensure Victorians are prepared for these new jobs the Andrews government has also introduced a clean energy workforce skills initiative. This is a $10 million initiative that encourages collaboration between the training sector and industry. This will ensure that our training curricula are fit for purpose for the jobs of the future and ensure that Victorian workers have the skills that they need to take up those jobs.

So it is Labor governments that are leading the way on climate action in this country. It is Labor governments that are delivering on climate action in this country. That is who is delivering on climate action in this country. We are sending a message to the world that now is the time to invest in Australia's transition, attracting large nation-building investments in renewable energy right now, like the Star of the South project off the south coast of Gippsland, which has partnered with the Victorian government to deliver Australia's first offshore wind site. The Star of the South project won't just help Victoria and Australia meet our climate targets; it will create thousands of good secure local jobs. It will support a community transition from fossil fuels to a greener future. The Star of the South is bringing the local community along with it by working with unions and local businesses to ensure that there's an ongoing supply of local jobs and that there is an ongoing supply of local contracts for local communities.

Australia and particularly my home state of Victoria have an incredible opportunity to establish a significant offshore wind industry, which was held back for so long by the coalition government and their failure to deliver legislation allowing offshore wind to even be considered in Australia. But the Labor government in Victoria didn't let that hold them back, and to make up for lost time as they waited for those opposite to deliver critical legislation to enable offshore wind the Victorian government announced a plan to accelerate the rollout of offshore wind projects. This was a strong message to the world that, if you want to invest in offshore wind, Victoria is the place to be, and that message was received loud and clear, with investment now flowing from international and local investors, including industry super funds who are getting involved.

The best thing we can do to attract investment in our transition is show the world that we are serious about reducing emissions and that we are serious about becoming the renewables superpower that everyone except those opposite know we can be. There has been a decade of missed opportunities from those opposite to make Australia a global leader and secure Australian jobs in the rapid transition to renewables, including a failure to prioritise Australian-made products. We saw this at the Ryan Corner Wind Farm project, where Keppel Prince, Australia's only manufacturer of wind turbines, were primed and ready to provide the content for this project, but instead they were passed over in favour of imported products and overseas companies, a decision that saw 50 jobs lost in the community of Portland in just three weeks, a devastating blow to that community. This is the legacy that those opposite have left behind: no support for local content, no support for local business, no support for local jobs and no support for local communities.

Australians know that under the Albanese government the move to a renewable energy future will create secure jobs for workers here in Australia. Our Powering Australia plan will reduce emissions and help us meet the targets that we are setting today and will create over 600,000 new jobs for Australian workers—600,000 good, secure jobs, many of them in Australia's regions; five out of six of those new jobs created will be in our regions. And we'll join together the Powering Australia plan and our Buy Australian plan, which will improve the way government contracts work to make sure more opportunities are available to Australian businesses. At the same time, the National Reconstruction Fund will drive new manufacturing jobs in renewables.

All this creates even more jobs for Australian workers, because the world's climate crisis is Australia's job opportunity, and it's an opportunity that the Albanese government is not willing to miss. We are embracing that opportunity and we are embracing the future.

7:16 pm

Photo of Gerard RennickGerard Rennick (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

ICK () (): I'm very pleased to rise to speak on the Climate Change Bill 2022, because as I've listened to the speeches today I've heard very little talk indeed about science. As a matter of fact, I haven't heard even one mathematical equation that underpins any of the science since this whole debate started. But I'll get onto that point in a minute.

I do want to lay down my credentials in terms of how much I care about the environment, and I want to distinguish the environment and my passion for the environment and the Liberal Party's passion for the environment versus the shoddy mathematical modelling, indoctrination and intimidation of the climate change propaganda. When it comes to looking after our riparian zones, reducing pollution, and looking after our biodiversity and our land management, all these things are very, very important, and I stand with the party. It's one of the values of the LNP, to protect our environment. But as I stand here I get worried, because I know the damage that these are so-called renewables—which aren't renewables; they are reliables—will do to the environment if they go ahead.

I'll give you one example. These windfarms kill both bats and birds. They are killing our apex birds, which feeds down into the food chain, and they're killing our bats. Unbeknown to most people, bats pollinate lots and lots of flowers. So, if we're going to go around killing bats—it's estimated that in the US the windfarms over there kill millions of birds each year along with millions of bats. And it's been known in other countries—in Scotland and places like that. There's a real anti-windfarm sentiment there. They are doing a fantastic job tracking the number of apex birds that are being killed by windfarms.

But it doesn't just stop with windfarms. It is also a problem with lithium, with these batteries, and the rare earths mining that has to be carried out in order to build a battery. Not many people realise, for example, that lithium is a one per cent ore body. You've got to mine100 tonnes of ore to get one tonne of lithium, But the thing about a mine is that you can't just go and dig the ore body out of the ground; you've got to go around and around and around in order to get to the ore body. That means you've probably got what they call a stripping rate of about 10 to one. So, quite possibly, with many of these lithium mines—and don't forget, that's just one of the many metals that go into a battery—you would have to mine 1,000 tonnes of dirt in order to get one tonne of metal. But here's the rub: you don't just get the one tonne of metal out of the ore that easily; you've got to put it through a number of electrolysis processes to extract the metal from the ore. Once you do that, you then put it on a ship to China, where it then goes into a battery. From that battery, it then goes into—

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

How about doing it in Australia?

Photo of Gerard RennickGerard Rennick (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I don't disagree with that. We should value-add there. But it then goes over to Texas, into a Tesla factory, where it goes into a car, and then the car comes all the way back to Australia and then gets used. That said, the actual power is put into a wall socket, where most of the power actually comes from the coalmine anyway.

If you compare that to, for example, the Kogan Creek coalmine close to my home town of Chinchilla—it's what you call a mine mouth coalmine, which is where the mine is only four kilometres away from the power station—coal is coal. There is no actual extracting of coal from the ore body. You burn it. You strip it. You mine it. You put it straight into the power station, and the power is transported by the southern interconnector. It is a very efficient way of producing energy.

But it doesn't stop there. These batteries that go into cars weigh up to 700 kilograms. They add a significant amount of weight to a car. They increase the braking distance. They are going to increase accidents. You do not want to get hit by a 700-kilogram solid object. They are going to increase the rubber burn-off in cars and increase the rubber pollutants in the air. This is not going to end well.

On top of that, you have to build so many more security services in order to deal with the frequency and the volatility control, because we're going to have renewables coming on and off, on and off, on and off. We're going to have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on synchronous condensers. They are these big spinning flywheels that sit on an inverter at the end of the coal-powered fire station, and when there's an overload or a surge of too much energy coming from solar, for example, that power then has to get diverted into the actual spinning wheel. And if there's a dip in the energy, if that spinning wheel is still spinning, you can divert some of that energy back into the grid. But this all requires a lot of extra cost.

There have been a lot of false assumptions. For example, the GenCost report assumes that there's no extra transmission required until renewables hit 50 per cent of the grid. That's farcical. The Labor Party have $20 billion for rewiring the actual grid scheme so that's going to be a loan—I don't know what the conditions of that loan are—and that's going to cost a lot of money.

We're going to have all of these extra transmission lines across the country. They themselves kill heaps of birds—that's a well-known fact. I can't wait for the farmers to react. There are going to be more and more of these transmission lines, and once they start getting built—I know they're protesting about that in western Victoria at the moment. You're then going to have all these impacts on farmers. You're going to have transmission lines criss-crossing the country. In the old days, when we had 80 per cent of the eastern seaboard powered by coal, we only had about 30 power stations and it was all very efficient when it came to transmission.

On top of that we have the problem of recycling. The head of the CSIRO, Larry Marshall, said in estimates it costs three times as much to recycle a battery than it does for the cost of the metals that go into the battery. So I want to know how we're going to recycle all of this lithium/cobalt/aluminium/copper and all of the stuff that goes into these batteries. I don't think it's ever going to be economical to recycle these batteries, because it is so metal intensive. This is the big fallacy of all this. All you're doing is shifting from mining coal to mining rare-earth metals that are one or two per cent of the Earth's crust.

Richard Herrington, the head of geology at the London Natural History Museum, said—he was just talking about Great Britain—there wasn't enough copper, nickel, neodymium and a few other metals in the Earth's crust to actually power the UK fleet. Where are we going to find all of these rare metals to basically have enough battery storage so that your renewables—I call them 'unreliables'. They're not renewable; the hardware isn't renewable, right? It's totally unsustainable.

But look, these things, unfortunately—I've just realised that I'm never going to win this argument. Whenever I talk about this stuff I'm called a climate denier and told that I somehow don't care about the environment. I find that incredibly insulting. As someone who grew up on a farm, who yearns for the sound of the whipbird in the morning or the sound of the galahs out at Chinchilla and the beautiful noises they make—I love the environment.

I was offered a partnership in an accounting firm when I was 23. I turned it down to go overseas. The first place I went to was Africa. I climbed Kilimanjaro in the first week. I went to see the gorillas in the mist. I dived at Zanzibar. I went to the Serengeti. I went to Europe. I climbed the Alps; I rock climbed in the Alps. I then went over to South America—the Machu Pichu trail. I went to Nepal. I've climbed the Aconcagua. I've surfed, skied, paddled down so many rivers. I love the environment and yet whenever I raise these genuine concerns about the environment I'm castigated with intimidation, indoctrination and shoddy mathematical modelling showing that somehow the debate has moved on. Let me tell you: the debate hasn't moved on, and it will never move on. At the end of the day, all science is underpinned by mathematics. And if there isn't a mathematical algorithm that demonstrates cause and effect and quantifies that cause and effect, then that's not science because behind every good scientist is a mathematician. If you go and watch these movies of these so-called science boffins, they're on the wall proofing their algorithm.

And that's what I'm going to finish this speech on tonight, because I want to talk about the scientists. There is no greater scientist than Albert Einstein himself. Let me quote his conclusion from his 1917 paper 'The Quantum Theory of Radiation':

One feels justified in this because the momentum transferred by radiation is so small that it always drops out as compared to that from other dynamical processes.

What does that mean? There are three forms of heat transfer: convection, conduction and radiation. At the end of the day, Albert Einstein, the great man himself, the greatest scientist that ever lived, said that radiation is so small that it is insignificant. Just remember that.

If you want to talk about science and the science of climate change, I say there's no such thing. It's the science of heat you need to focus on. The science of heat is called thermodynamics, and those rules were first settled 200 years ago by guys like James Joule, William Thomson—later on, 200 years ago, he became Lord Kelvin, the first scientist to be made a lord in the House of Lords—and Sadi Carnot, a great Frenchman who actually worked on the second law of thermodynamics. Technically speaking, it was the first law of thermodynamics, because he got to that before Boyle and Joule. But, anyway, I digress.

I want to touch on these laws of thermodynamics to prove that this whole concept of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is somehow going to increase the heat. As anyone who understands science knows, E = mc2. Energy comes from the combustion of energy in the sun. Six hundred billion tonnes of hydrogen are burnt every second. That's converted into 596 billion tonnes of helium and four billion tonnes of energy. Radiation energy is carried by a boson known as a photon. Some of those photons came here to planet Earth, and they come in the form of about eight per cent ultraviolet energy, above the visible spectrum, about 42 per cent in the visible spectrum and about 44 per cent infrared energy.

Carbon dioxide, ironically enough, actually absorbs energy only at certain frequencies. One of those frequencies happens to be 2.8 microns, which is incoming radiation. Another frequency it absorbs at is 14.8 microns, which just happens to be outgoing long-wave radiation. Now, here's the thing: if you apply Planck's law, E = hv, the energy consumed by carbon dioxide on the way in is actually five times stronger than the energy absorbed by carbon dioxide on the way out. They never want to tell you that. What you think slows down the adiabatic lapse rate? If it wasn't for the greenhouse gases—we know this because the maximum temperature in Singapore is about 34 degrees. It has been proven that the H2O, the water vapour, actually cools. If you go to places in outback Queensland or Australia, you get 50 degrees in the summer. In Singapore, you won't get that, because the humidity actually stops the incoming solar radiation from getting too hot. It gets very muggy, but that's the water, not the radiation.

So that's two laws. So far we've basically broken E = mc2, Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity. He did four great papers that year. He didn't actually get a Nobel Prize for that. He got it for work that he did later that year on the photoelectric effect. And, of course, we've now also broken Planck's law. But then we go on to Wien's law. Wien's law calculates the temperature at which carbon dioxide will emit any energy it absorbs. We know that that's what's called—I did have to print this off; I can't remember this—the constant of proportionality, and that's 2.898 centimetres. If you put that over the wavelength that carbon dioxide absorbs, 14.8 microns, that will give you 192 degrees Kelvin. Now, 192 degrees Kelvin, for those of you who don't know your Kelvin scale, is minus 80 Celsius in real life. In other words, carbon dioxide emits heat only at minus 80 degrees. So if want carbon dioxide to supposedly trap heat, as you guys like to claim, you'll need to go either to the bottom of Antarctica or about 10 kilometres up into the troposphere to start getting carbon dioxide to emit heat.

But here's the thing: carbon dioxide is only ever going to emit what comes in via radiation, via the photons, in the first place. But the problem with that—and that's if you use the first law of thermodynamics, which we'll now go to—is that energy is neither created nor destroyed, and this matters. This rule means that carbon dioxide absorbs energy only on a logarithmic scale, not a linear scale. So, according to the first law of thermodynamics, if I'm a one-tonne car and I'm travelling at 100 kilometres an hour and I hit another car, which is stationary, that weighs one tonne, the most that that stationary car can move is 100 kilometres an hour. It can't go at 110 kilometres an hour. Likewise, with a photon that is absorbed by carbon dioxide, it only absorbs an existing photon. It doesn't increase the overall energy intake that's in the atmosphere. You cannot do that. But here's the thing, and I will accept that this little bit of the climate change theory is right: it will emit radiation in all directions, and some of that, albeit at negative 80 degrees, will radiate downwards.

That's where we use the second law of thermodynamics, which is that the entropy of a system will always increase. If I have half a glass of water here at 10 degrees and half a glass of water here at 20 degrees, and I tip one into the other, assuming we trap the heat, the water will end up at 15 degrees. Likewise, say we have a little bit of radiation come down—let's just say the lower part of the atmosphere. If one glass went to 9.9 degrees and the other went to 20.1, and you still tip them into each other, the entropy will always increase. It's still going to level out at 15 degrees. The point of the matter is that the very small amount of radiation emitted downwards, which is next to nothing—as Einstein said, it's so small it drops out—is going to be levelled out by the wind. And we know that. We all know that, because every day we see the wind constantly moving. That is the second law of thermodynamics in action.

I'm going to have to finish my speech here, but can I just say I will vote against this bill because it is junk science. It has been based on false lies for far too long, and I will continue to fight this to the day I die.

7:31 pm

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak to the Climate Change Bill 2022, and I would like to associate myself with the fabulous comments that have already been made by my Greens colleagues. The Climate Change Bill, as first introduced by Labor, was a flimsy, purely symbolic bill designed to take an election promise and provide Labor with an opportunity for self-congratulations. The Greens have worked hard to improve it. We've ensured that the target can be ratcheted up over time. We've Dutton-proofed the bill with a genuine floor, which means that targets cannot go backwards. And we've ensured that government agencies such as Export Finance Australia, which in the past have funded coal and gas projects, will, for the first time, be forced to take climate targets into account when making decisions.

But there is so much more to be done. The first and most obvious thing is that we have to stop making the problem worse while we're trying to solve it. Exacerbating the crisis that we are trying desperately to fix is a brazen act of self-sabotage. That's why it beggars belief that Labor have not ruled out backing new coal and gas projects. Right now there are 114 of these in the pipeline, and this includes projects like the Pilliga Narrabri coal seam gas project in my home state of New South Wales; the Woodside Scarborough gas field; and what will likely be the world's dirtiest gas project, Santos's Barossa in the Northern Territory, which will add billions of tonnes of carbon emissions over the coming decades. On top of that, the Albanese government is opening up nearly 47,000 square kilometres of ocean waters to oil and gas exploration. These will erase any climate gains made by the emissions reduction target many, many times over. In fact, Labor's target would be blown out by just one of these. As climate expert Ketan Joshi puts it, Labor is pouring a full tanker of petrol onto the fire while spraying it with a plastic water pistol at a distance.

So weak targets like this one are really a bit of a fig leaf. The real fight—the fight the Greens are going to throw everything at—is to keep coal and gas in the ground. This includes introducing a climate trigger in environmental laws, having a strong safeguard mechanism and ending fossil fuel subsidies. We will push for massive investment in publicly owned renewable energy.

The harsh reality is this: we are in a climate emergency, we are facing an existential crisis, and the planet and people all over the world are suffering. As I speak, about one-third of my home country, Pakistan, is underwater because of monsoon rainfall estimated to have been 10 times as severe as usual. Melting glaciers are adding to these floods. One-third of Pakistan is an area roughly the size of the UK, from which 33 million people—more than the entire population of Australia—have been displaced. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, described this:

The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids—the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.

He then called on the world to stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. In this country, we are sleepwalking. This is the climate emergency Labor is making worse every time it approves a new coal or gas project.

Meanwhile, China is coming out of the longest and hottest heatwave it has ever recorded. For more than 70 days straight this year, nearly a billion people suffered through a heatwave that saw sustained daily temperatures above 40 degrees. This is the climate emergency Labor is making worse every time it opens up a new coal or gas project.

The Horn of Africa has seen the worst drought in 40 years, which has killed millions of livestock, destroyed crops and forced 1.1 million people from their homes in search of food and water. According to the UN's World Food Program, 22 million people are at risk of starvation. This is the climate emergency Labor is making worse every time it opens up a new coal or gas project.

Of course, there are also our neighbours—the Pacific island nations for whom the climate emergency is a daily lived reality and has been for some years. Some, such as the low-lying atoll nations of Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, are only six feet above sea level. Water is literally lapping at their doorsteps. Many of the Pacific island nations, which are amongst the lowest emitters on the planet, face intense cyclones, changing rainfall patterns, coral bleaching, ocean acidification and coastal inundation as a result of the climate crisis.

This crisis is global, and the decisions that we make here have global consequences. Right-wing commentators love to claim that Australia's contribution to global climate change is small in the grand scheme of things, but we emit far more than our fair share and we are one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels in the world. If we export our emissions overseas, that doesn't mean that they're not contributing to the climate crisis.

We are also far more able than most countries to manage the costs of moving away from fossil fuels because of our wealth and bountiful access to sun, wind and water. Rich countries of the Global North, like Australia, bear the overwhelming responsibility for climate change. The climate crisis is essentially something rich countries are doing to poor countries.

The Greens believe that global justice must be at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis. Human rights need to be at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis. Decolonising needs to be at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis. Indigenous sovereignty needs to be at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis, and that means listening to First Nations people who don't want the destruction of their land, their water, their air and their culture in Beetaloo, Scarborough, Pilliga, Narrabri or anywhere, for that matter.

After a decade of climate stupor by the Liberal and National governments, this bill does represent some progress. It is a small step in the right direction, but, after a decade of coalition ruin, Australia is in such a state of despair when it comes to the climate that even the smallest step is quite notable. But it's not near enough to the solution that we need. No government should be let off the hook on climate action. It's vital that the media, activists, NGOs and the community at large do not let the Labor government rest until we see real climate action.

Without strong action, we are still hurtling towards climate disaster. Without urgent action, we are robbing the futures of young people all over the world. The planet is cooking and it is cooking fast. That's what's happening, so this is an emergency. We need a response that matches the scale of this crisis. We need urgent action. We need decisive action. We need strong action. We need an end to all new coal and gas. We need to stop killing the planet and its people. We need climate justice and we need it now.

7:39 pm

Photo of Catryna BilykCatryna Bilyk (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 are the first bills the Albanese Labor government introduced into parliament. There's a reason for that. It helps us send a strong message that we acknowledge that climate change is a major threat and one that needs to be dealt with urgently. It's a threat to our prosperity, our safety, our national security and our way of life. The likelihood of it threatening the very survival of the human species is enough that we cannot afford to deny action. Even the climate change impacts we are seeing in Australia right now are disastrous enough to warrant urgent action.

There has been a dramatic increase in extreme weather events such as heatwaves, floods and wildfires, with the consequent loss of property, livelihoods and even lives. To give you a picture of the impact of climate change on Australia so far: since 2005, Australia has experienced nine out of 10 of its hottest days on record; in January and February 2009, a period which overlapped with the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, 374 excess deaths were recorded in Victoria due to heat related illness; in 2018, the fire season began in winter, while the 2019 bushfires created air pollution in areas such as New South Wales 11 times the hazardous level; the disastrous 2019-20 bushfire season caused around $80 billion of damage across Australia and burnt somewhere between three and four per cent of our land mass; and, this year, floods in Queensland and New South Wales have led to almost $5 billion in damage and killed 22 people.

The world has warmed by 1.1 degrees since 1880. As it continues to warm, we will see a loss of biodiversity and an increase in extreme weather events. Not only do these extremes threaten people's safety and property, but we're also likely to see the increased spread of infectious diseases as changes in climate force the migration of species to new areas. Climate change has also exacerbated the severity of drought, putting pressure on agricultural production. Australia has always been a vast, rugged country subject to weather extremes, but what has been happening in the past two decades is something entirely different. This is not normal. Australians see these impacts and suffer from them, which is why increasing numbers of Australians keep calling for real action on climate change.

Sadly, the time spent in office by the previous government was a wasted opportunity for climate change action. Every year that went by was a year of delay, denial and inaction. Among the Liberals and Nationals, we heard a variety of views on climate change while they were in government. They could not move forward because they remained hopelessly divided on the issue. Among the ranks of the coalition were the outright deniers, ranging from those who refuse to believe changes in climate were influenced by human activity through to the even more bizarre view that the climate was not changing and government agencies were deliberately falsifying data. Those in the coalition who accepted the evidence that human activities were responsible for the extreme weather events we saw offer an array of excuses for refusing to act. Some suggested that Australia should not be taking action to cut emissions until other countries make stronger commitments, despite Australia having the highest emissions in the world on a per capita basis. Others talked about the size of Australia's contribution to global emissions, but the question of Australia taking action is not just about our emissions; it's the example we set for the rest of the world, particularly the countries with the highest overall emissions.

For years we've been seen as a pariah. We need to do our share of the heavy lifting if we're going to encourage others to do the same. Even when the previous government accepted that climate change was real, their actions failed to match their words. We saw policies advanced under the pretence of action. For example, the backbone of the coalition's policy for many years was the Emissions Reduction Fund, which wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on projects that did not deliver real cuts to emissions. Another great example was the so-called net zero by 2050 blueprint, which relied on a series of costly, unproven and underdeveloped technologies to do the bulk of the heavy lifting.

A policy that makes heavy cuts to Australia's emissions has to rely on the renewable energies that we know are cost-effective and work at scale, and they are wind and solar with backup battery storage. But those opposite have shown their contempt for renewable energy. They tried to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation under the guise of cutting red tape, even though the agency was making a profit. They also tried to abolish the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and, when they failed at that, they tried to get ARENA to invest in fossil fuel and carbon capture and storage projects. And they even proposed underwriting coal-powered generation to the tune of billions of dollars. It's incredible that the previous government had such a pathological hatred of renewable energy that they opposed it, even when it made fiscal and economic sense without reference to emissions.

The legislation sets an interim target of a 43 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, and we know we can achieve a 43 per cent cut because it's the outcome predicted by the modelling of our climate change policies. Reaching this target will get Australia well on the way to our ultimate target, also enshrined in these bills, of net zero emissions by 2050. The 43 per cent target, mind you, is a floor and not a ceiling. We can be more ambitious if the circumstances call for it. In addition to these two emissions reduction targets, the bills now before the Senate will provide for an annual statement to parliament from the minister responsible for climate change. The statement will include an update on Australia's progress towards meeting our emissions targets. The bill will also restore the Climate Change Authority to provide independent expert advice to the minister on the annual statement and to provide advice on any new or updated emissions reduction targets to be communicated to the UN under the Paris Agreement.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in a Senate inquiry into these bills and to hear from representatives of business, academia, environmental organisations, unions, think tanks, welfare groups—the list goes on. Overwhelmingly, those who contributed to the inquiry via written submissions and addressing our public hearings were in favour of the objectives and provisions of the bill, with only a small minority opposed to them. These bills are just the foundation for our climate change action. We will get to work on our other plans, which include Rewiring the Nation, an enhanced safeguard mechanisms and Australia's first-ever electric vehicle strategy. Rewiring the Nation will get us to 82 per cent renewables by 2030 and will put downward pressure on power prices for Australian households.

It's sad that against the weight of public opinion the opposition would oppose those bills. They remain stuck in the past on this issue, their heads firmly planted in the sand. After almost a decade of delay, denial and inaction, they've finally had an opportunity to end the climate change wars for the good of all Australians, but rejected it. Incredibly, they were even going against the wishes of the business community who they purport to represent. But we are not deterred. We know that the overwhelming majority of Australians want climate change action. We will legislate these targets, and we will make a meaningful contribution to global action under the framework of the Paris Agreement, because Labor is getting on with the job.

7:48 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak in relation to the two bills before the Senate this evening, the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022. In doing so I might address a few preliminary comments, if I could. First, in reference to Senator Faruqi's speech, can I just, with indulgence, give my sympathies and thoughts to the Pakistan diaspora in Australia who, no doubt, are suffering from seeing what is happening in Pakistan at the moment with respect to the devastating floods that are occurring in Pakistan. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as I'm sure are the thoughts and prayers of everyone in this place, and I do hope the Australian government can lift its game in terms of providing assistance to the people of Pakistan. I simply don't believe we've done enough in that regard.

The other point I'd like to make is in relation to gas, and it is one of the touchpoints in this debate. Whilst the Greens and Labor will both be supporting the legislation, there is a material difference between their positions with respect to gas in particular and the approval of future gas projects.

I want to put a number of observations on the record with respect to the importance of gas for the foreseeable future. I note that, with respect to what is happening following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany at the moment is going as fast as it possibly can in constructing LNG terminals to allow them to export additional LNG. Just recently a company called EnBW Energy, a major German power producer, has entered into a 20-year contract, commencing in 2026—so, 2026 to 2046—to purchase an immense amount of LNG from the United States.

The second point I would make with respect to the importance of gas is that, if one looks at a company like POSCO in South Korea and its recent investment in a great Queensland company called Senex, again you can see that our near neighbours in North Asia are absolutely focused on securing their LNG supplies and are investing in Australian companies in order to secure those supplies on a long-term basis. I should say that POSCO at the same time is investing an immense amount of capital in relation to hydrogen. My third reflection in relation to gas is that Japan is again looking at increasing its LNG imports and is also, I should note, reconsidering its position with respect to nuclear energy, given its energy constraints. So, there you have a number of our major trading partners, all of whom recognise the issues relating to climate change. Each and every one of them are searching the world for LNG in order to assist them to meet their energy requirements and deal with climate change issues. That should be recognised and it should be put on the record.

The Senate is a house of review, Mr Deputy President McLachlan, and I know that you know that very well—indeed, you have experience in another place's upper house, which presumably has a similar perspective. I commend everyone who participated in the committee report that was prepared in relation of this legislation. I've read it very carefully. There are 10 points I'd like to make in relation to the committee report in relation to these bills, which are considered by the coalition senators who served on that committee. The first is that there was insufficient consultation with respect to this legislation. In a situation where, by the government's own admission, this legislation is not necessary, it is absolutely gobsmacking that they haven't engaged in sufficient consultation with respect to this legislation. For example, the Australian Forest Products Association has raised concerns with respect to the legislation, with respect to the lack of consultation. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was not consulted in relation to the legislation, which is just baffling. In addition to that, if one looks at paragraph 1.13 of the dissenting report of the coalition senators:

These concerns are bolstered by evidence from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry admitting that they have done no modelling on the impacts of the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 on rural and regional Australia.

I mean, that is just astounding—that the relevant departments, including the Department of Climate Change, has done no modelling on the impact of this legislation on rural and regional Australia. How can that be?

In this place I represent the great state of Queensland, as does my friend Senator James McGrath, who is in the chamber this evening. We represent the people of rural and regional Queensland, and we do so proudly. To see a situation where this government is putting forward legislation where the department of climate change hasn't done any modelling to consider the impact of this legislation on rural and regional Queensland is just unacceptable. It is unacceptable.

The second point I'd like to make is that there has been no credible pathway thus far presented with respect to how the government is going to achieve its plan of firm—I emphasise that point: firm—82 per cent renewables by 2030. We simply don't have a credible plan with respect to how the government is going to achieve that goal. I don't think it's too much to ask that, just as the previous government did prepare a credible plan with respect to the goal of net zero by 2050, the government provide a convincing plan with respect to achieving their nominated goal of 82 per cent renewables by 2030.

Thirdly, there's no assessment of the economic cost of higher power bills that will flow from this policy. Be honest with the Australian people. Be honest. Do the work. Tell us how much their electricity is going to cost. Do the work before you come to this place and introduce a bill such as this.

The fourth point is lawfare, something we're very, very familiar with in the state of Queensland, in relation to actions being taken by non-government organisations. The concern has been raised that there will be unintended consequences from this legislation in relation to NGOs—in particular, environmentally focused NGOs bringing legal action on the basis of this legislation to stop development on a piecemeal basis. An example of that in the overseas context is the action that was taken by an organisation called Plan B against the expansion of Heathrow Airport. That legal action went through a number of levels in the UK court system. In fact, they tried to refer the legal action to the European Court of Human Rights, I think, when they were unsuccessful before the United Kingdom Supreme Court. All of this causes cost, all of this causes delay, and it's done on a piecemeal basis, not on the basis of an overall, overarching strategy and plan.

I refer those who are listening to this debate to paragraph 1.27 of the coalition senators' dissenting report, where they state:

Environmental groups which provided evidence to the Committee refused to rule out using this legislation to challenge agriculture, primary producing, infrastructure, energy, resources, or forestry projects.

Those are the actual NGOs who would potentially use this legislation in order to engage in this lawfare. Notwithstanding the fact that the government says, 'There's nothing to see here; you don't have to worry about it,' the actual NGOs—who are the ones that society should be concerned about in terms of undertaking this piecemeal lawfare activity—are not ruling it out. In fact, when given the opportunity to rule it out, they specifically don't do so. When one of my colleagues raised that earlier this evening in the debate, a number of the Greens senators—I don't think the Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate was in the chamber at the time—actually applauded and clapped and said, 'Fantastic!' So we're concerned about those unintended consequences and what it means to major infrastructure projects and major development projects which are needed by this country.

The fifth point I would like to raise is with respect to the change of the objectives and functions of a number of major Australian government agencies. I give you the example of Infrastructure Australia. Again, I refer to paragraphs 1.43 and 1.44 of the coalition senators' dissenting report:

Coalition Senators are also gravely concerned that Infrastructure Australia could not explain the consequences of the Bills on their own decision making.

They couldn't explain how the bill would impact their own decision-making.

The agency could not explain how they would weigh the emissions of applicant projects versus the job creation opportunities … When asked repeatedly how this legislation would alter Infrastructure Australia's decision making, officials stated: 'We're still determining that' and 'We are receiving advice on it at the moment'.

Prior to this legislation coming to this place, perhaps that should have been determined. Perhaps we should have been in a position to understand in practice—moving away from the written word in the act to the practice of application—how Infrastructure Australia is going to practically implement the changes put forward in this legislation. We do not have the answer.

The sixth point I'd like to raise—

Photo of Tim AyresTim Ayres (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source


Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have 10, Senator Ayres; it has to be an even number. The sixth point I raise is the possible impact on regional communities. Again, I quote from paragraph 1.52 of the coalition senators' dissenting report:

The Department of Climate Change, Energy and Water has admitted it has not undertaken any monitoring and how these bills will impact regional and rural Australia.

There is no modelling on the impact on rural and regional Australia. I know my friend Senator Ayres comes from regional New South Wales.

I don't need four minutes even. They haven't actually considered the impact on regional Australia in their consideration of this legislation. The seventh point: we are concerned about the impact on the agricultural production of this country. Senator Faruqi rightly referred to the devastating famine that is occurring in the Horn of Africa at the moment in Somalia and, again, I extend my consideration and concern to our great Somali diaspora in Queensland. They are going through a devastating famine and, again, Australia should be doing all we can to help that region of Africa.

Paragraph 1.56 says:

The committee heard testimony that farmers are already troubled by the land already locked up by governments.

Are we going to see a situation where in order to achieve net zero major industrial players more and more seize, take, purchase through the market, our prime agricultural land, our land gets locked up and that has a negative impact in food production? I don't know the answer to that.

Point A: the legislation removes the Productivity Commission's five-year review into the socioeconomic impacts of our nationally determined contribution and how it may potentially disproportionately affect rural and regional communities. Why would you possibly remove the Productivity Commission's obligation, its function, to actually review the impact, in particular the socioeconomic impacts, of this policy in practice? Why would you remove the Productivity Commission's purpose in that regard? I simply don't understand it.

Point 9: What will be the economic cost of higher power bills on Australians? Paragraph 1.75 of the dissenting report says:

For Australians under constant cost-of-living pressures, any rise in power bills will have a detrimental impact on their lives.

What is going to happen to power prices? Tell us before you introduce this bill what will happen to power prices.

My last point, point 10: nuclear energy. We are seeing, as I mentioned earlier, that Japan is moving back towards reconsidering nuclear. If we are going to adopt this focus in replacing our fossil fuels, we need to look at base power stable energy production. We need to be considering nuclear. It is irresponsible for us to not consider nuclear yet, again, this isn't dealt with in this legislation. So on that basis I will not be supporting these bills.

(Quorum formed)

8:06 pm

Photo of David FawcettDavid Fawcett (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I too rise to make some comments on the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022. It's important to note upfront, as some of my colleagues have, that the nationally determined contribution has been already advised by the government to the Paris Agreement secretariat on 22 June this year and that Labor, with the support of the Greens, will have the numbers to pass this legislation, so that itself is not in doubt. What I would like to do, though, is go to clause No. 3, which is the objects of the bill. The objects state the bill is to add to an effective global response informed by science.

Now, those of you who read my first speech, and I trust that's all of you here, know that I have tertiary qualifications in science and that in my maiden speech I emphasised the fact that I'm a great believer in evidence-based policy that is effective in addressing the problem at hand and that does not have unintended consequences. Also, having worked for much of my career as an experimental test pilot in the technical world of aerospace, which is underpinned by systems engineering, I recognise the need to scrutinise the basis and the assumptions of the science that underpin a design or, in this case, legislation.

According to this explanatory memorandum, this bill and the consequential amendments are informed by the consultation which led to Labor's Powering Australia plan. That consultation and the analysis of the plan's impact by the consulting firm RepuTex have been informed that in large part by studies such as the GenCost report, which was produced by the CSIRO and AEMO, the Energy Market Operator. Reading GenCost in detail I note that they appropriately refer to stakeholders who are responsible for global best practice regarding the science and economics of energy, in particular reports by the International Energy Agency, the IEA, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency, the OECD NEA.

As an example as to why scrutiny is useful, I'm concerned that while the GenCost report reflects the major themes reported by the IEA and OECD, such as the need to move beyond the simple metric of the levelised cost of electricity when comparing technology options, some references used in the GenCost report to underpin their cost assumptions are seriously outdated, as in we are talking back to the last century, when more recent information from these same independent expert bodies is available. I'm also concerned that some key observations of the GenCost report questioning the ability of wind and solar to get us to net zero are omitted from the ALP plan and subsequent analysis.

The question has to be: is the plan of the Albanese government based on the most recent and complete science available? Will it be effective in achieving its stated aims? What does the latest credible science say about the best way to provide abundant and cheap electricity while reducing emissions? In April this year the OECD NEA, which is quoted by GenCost and recognised as a global expert, released its latest report on meeting climate change targets. It's an authoritative assessment of the key issues relating to energy policy and creating sustainable low-carbon economies. Much of the OECD report covers familiar ground regarding their view as to why global action is required urgently. There are major elements of the report, however, that challenge the Australian government's stated approach to reducing emissions, and at the heart of these elements are three statements. The first is:

… decarbonising the electricity sector in a cost-effective manner while maintaining high levels of electricity security requires policymakers to recognise and equitably allocate system costs to the responsible technologies.

The second is:

… while all technologies impose some system costs, variable, intermittent, and uncertain sources of power generation impose far greater grid-level system costs, which is why it is so important to take a systems level perspective when comparing costs of variable renewables with nuclear, baseload hydro, and fossil generation.

The third statement from the OECD report is:

All low-carbon technologies, including nuclear energy must be included in relevant discussions about the energy transition in order to maintain the integrity and evidence base of the policy dialogue.

The report also considered the impact of emissions constraints for the different technologies. The Albanese Powering Australia plan looks to achieve 82 per cent market penetration of renewables by 2030. But figure 20 in the OECD report shows the breakdown of system costs as the share of variable renewables grows from 10 per cent to 75 per cent of the mix, including profile costs to compensate for variability and intermittency; connection, distribution and transmission costs; and balancing costs to compensate for uncertainty. It shows the effects on those total costs as carbon emissions are increasingly constrained. If that sounds complex, that's because it is. This is classic systems engineering. To quote the OECD's comment at the end of this analysis:

The policy implications of these systems costs findings are significant. It may be possible to reduce emissions to meet 2030 targets by growing the share of variable renewables in the mix. However, the costs of reaching net zero with high shares of variable renewables are likely prohibitive.

That recent statement, by a stakeholder regarded by the CSIRO and AEMO to be a global expert on energy, is very different to the predominant political narrative. This OECD report changes the debate because it shows that the most recent credible science demonstrates that the approach proposed in the Albanese plan will not be effective in achieving the stated aim of the policy.

As well as the financial cost, the OECD report also considers other costs. First, they consider the environmental impacts of grid-scale generation options. For wind and solar, as primary sources, they include measures required for firming. The variation, for example, in the requirement for critical minerals is surprisingly large. There is a minimal impact on the order of nuclear power, with around 15 kilograms per megawatt hour. But that rises exponentially to 155 kilograms per megawatt hour for solar PV or 180 kilograms per megawatt hour for onshore wind. The report demonstrates that as the percentage of variable renewable generation and associated firming in a grid increases, the volume of mineral extraction and processing required becomes immense. This takes on a new relevance when the IEA also report:

… looking further ahead in a scenario consistent with climate goals, expected supply from existing mines and projects under construction is estimated to meet only half of projected lithium and cobalt requirements and 80% of copper needs by 2030.

It's not just a case of constraints in digging those critical medicals up; people often overlook the high energy demands required to produce the usable critical minerals.

The OECD report also considers other costs, including land, environment and social impacts. As an example, the Albanese plan requires spending $20 billion to upgrade the electricity grid to connect more renewables. The capital cost is one consideration, but take, for example, the 10,000 kilometres of new transmission lines as recommended in AEMO's 2022 Integrated System Plan. Using data from Infrastructure Australia, you can obtain figures on the steel and concrete necessary for high-voltage transmission lines. Even being conservative and using the midpoint figures, they show that 46 tonnes of steel and 71 cubic metres of concrete are required for every kilometre of new transmission. That means that three-quarters of a million tonnes of iron ore have to be mined and then smelted, with all the associated energy and emissions, and, to make that much concrete, 180,000 tonnes of cement is required. Bear in mind that a single tonne of cement requires around 4.7 million Btu of energy, which is equivalent to about 180 kilograms of coal and generates nearly a tonne of CO2. So just meeting AEMO's 2022 plan will result in an additional 180,000 tonnes of emissions.

The OECD report highlights that, for all these reasons, despite the rhetoric, renewable energy is not free, nor is it even the cheapest option available, nor is it effective in achieving net zero. The OECD report details that there is an affordable, safe technology to complement renewable power and which acts as an essential element to constraining emissions while retaining reliable, affordable power. The best science that's currently available, which is contained in the OECD NEA report, shows (1) that, despite ideological positions to the contrary, all credible models—for example, the 90 IPCC pathways to limit warming to 1.5 degrees—demonstrate that nuclear energy is required to effect climate change mitigation by 2050; (2) that the levelised cost per megawatt hour of electricity from long-term operation of nuclear generators is actually lower than fossil fuels, hydro, wind and solar, and that new-build nuclear is competitive with wind and solar now, and it will be cheaper when systems costs are attributed as emissions constraints are imposed; and (3) that recent developments prove that nuclear energy can be a low-carbon technology with rapid delivery times.

Evidence to the 2019 inquiry by the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy showed that the integrity and evidence base of the policy dialogue in Australia have not been maintained, with AEMO and CSIRO detailing the impact of the legislative prohibition on even considering nuclear power. That prohibition is not related to science, safety, cost or efficacy. The prohibition resulted from trade-offs with minor parties in the Senate over 20 years ago and is predominantly given effect through section 10 of the Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and section 140A(b) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

That energy emissions policy has a significant effect on Australia's economic and national security, job security and quality of life, and the consequences of getting it wrong can almost be existential, as we see currently in Europe, which is suffering geostrategic paralysis and crippling growth in power costs because of poor energy policy. The prohibition in the EPBC Act must be repealed, to allow Australia to engage on the International Atomic Energy Agency milestone process to have an evidence based consideration as to whether the nuclear option is indeed the most reasonable path for Australia to pursue, in combination with wind, solar, hydrogen and other partial solutions to Australia's energy mix. It's important to recognise that nuclear is not a standalone solution, and in Europe it's currently working with solar and wind to load-follow and to provide firming for when renewables are not able to produce power. Any consideration of value must also recognise the other industrial uses for nuclear energy, such as the production of green hydrogen for desalination and for energy-intensive products such as fertiliser and cement.

In summary, the most recent science from recognised global experts refutes the assumptions underpinning the Albanese government's plan that increased investment in variable renewables will deliver abundant cheap power while reducing emissions to net zero. The science highlights that there is a solution. But the point is: we will never know what is possible and effective for Australia unless the prohibition on nuclear power generation is lifted. Australians should demand effective policy that is transparently based on all available evidence. This will only be possible if the government acts to repeal the outdated, ideologically driven barriers to evaluating the option of nuclear power generation. If Australia is serious about achieving net zero while still having affordable, reliable power, with minimal impact on our people and our land, our focus should be more on targeting legislation than on legislating targets.

8:19 pm

David Shoebridge (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

So we finally get a climate change bill—the Climate Change Bill 2022—into this parliament, and there's only one reason why. At the last election, the mood for change, for climate action and integrity, was electric, and I stand here today as part of a proud 16-strong Greens team delivered as part of that movement for change at the last election.

In just the last two years, people have lived through the Black Summer bushfires, they've lived through repeated catastrophic floods and they're seeing the world suffering through the real impacts of the climate catastrophe in real time, all while we're at only 1.2 degrees or less of warming. Now, they are demanding action.

For too long we have had governments who let corporations dictate the speed of climate action. We've lost decades with policy drift and fossil fuel greed, failing to take opportunities for innovation and be forward thinking and invest in a safe and livable future. Unfortunately, in an economic and political system based on endless growth and the myth of limitless extraction and consumption, this will not happen without far greater leadership than this bill shows. Instead of leadership, instead of the action needed to map out that safe future, we get this bill, Labor's compromise bill, which you'd give 43 per cent if you had to give it a mark out of 100. This bill is striking for its failure to deliver on even Labor's 45 per cent target that it took to the election in 2019, let alone the 75 per cent reduction by 2030 that all the science is telling us we need. This is part of a compromise that we've seen from Labor. They're trying to have it both ways: to be making sounds and noise on climate while really delivering for the fossil fuel donors and the corporate interests that ruled this place in the last parliament.

The problem is: you can't compromise on climate. You can't compromise on physics or cut a political deal with a law of nature. A bill that seeks to compromise on climate can't be anything but a very modest starting point, the very first slow step on a much longer path that we need to be running down. On that path must be the refusal of the 114 new coal and gas proposals currently in the pipeline, and a commitment—rock solid and in law—that we will keep all coal and gas in the ground. Without decisive action on that, this bill will utterly fail to deliver even its very modest goals. You can't put out the fire when you're pouring petrol on it.

While we're debating this bill, as we've been watching this bill grind its way through parliament, the Independent Planning Commission in my home state of New South Wales has just approved an extension to the Mount Pleasant coalmine to extend its operations up until 2048, with a likely impact of something in the order of a billion tonnes of CO2. That mine will be pumping out coal and greenhouse gases for 18 years after this bill's 2030 target. You don't need to be a mathematician to recognise that pretending to take climate action by 2030 with this bill and simultaneously allowing the approval of a megamine to operate until 2048 are grossly inconsistent.

When the environment is being destroyed like this, the messages you hear come from activists, students and people who care about their future, their kids' future and their grandkids' future, but they also come powerfully from First Nations communities. I'd like to read the following words from a man I've worked with for many years: Scott Franks of the Plains Clans of the Wonnarua people. He sent this message this week about this appalling coalmine approval—just the one, but one of so many on Wonnarua lands, his family's lands, his lands, that he has been trying to protect.

He said this:

This mine has one of the largest concentrations of Aboriginal recorded sites on it in the Hunter Valley including a recorded mythological sight. The concentration of sites has not happened by chance but is the result of over 30 operational open cut coal mines in the Hunter Valley. Currently the coal mining operations in the Hunter Valley have had a significant impact on Wonnarua heritage and Wonnarua people have only 3% of our country left intact.

As Scott has told me on so many occasions about this mine and other mines, the idea that the conditions we see in this week's IPC, Independent Planning Commission, approval, talking about monitoring and mitigating the impacts on Aboriginal lands and monitoring greenhouse emissions—they're all gumph. The idea that any of that is a safeguard for land or water or culture or climate is plain preposterous. It's a joke, and we're calling it out for what it is.

Yes, let's pass this bill with the improvements that have been negotiated through the hard work of climate activists. I particularly pay tribute to our colleague Adam Bandt, our Greens leader, for the hard work he and his team did in negotiating improvements: putting in a genuine floor, putting in greater transparency, making the bill better. But we acknowledge that this is nowhere near where this parliament needs to be on climate. Let's do it, because it shows we can at least take one step away from the climate vandalism of the former coalition government. Let's take some strength from that, but then let's get on with the real work that's needed, and that's the work to permanently keep coal and gas in the ground.

At the request of Senator Whish-Wilson, I move:

At the end of the motion, add ", but the Senate:

(a) notes that in the time between this bill passing the House and being debated by the Senate, the Government has opened up 46,758 square kilometres of ocean acreages for new oil and gas exploration; and

(b) acknowledges the advice of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, that to meet the Government's own target of net zero by 2050, no new coal, oil or gas infrastructure can be built."

8:26 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, this is a mediocre piece of legislation. It's one that does not come close to reflecting what climate science is telling us, and it falls even further short of reflecting reality. It's the reality, the truth, of what is happening on our planet that I want to talk about tonight. And here is the reality, here is the truth: the planet's capacity to sustain human life is crumbling away. The ecosystem—that beautiful, complex web of life that sustains everything about this planet and makes our planet so much more than just a ball of rock orbiting a star—is crumbling away. We are losing the very essence of this planet, and it is happening because of what one species, human beings, have done and are doing. This collapse, this crumbling of our ecosystems and the planet's capacity to sustain life is being caused by a relatively small group of people. They are genuine psychopaths, the people that are doing this. They are relentlessly pursuing profit at the expense of the very lives of billions of people, let alone all of the other species who are suffering and, in so many cases, are facing extinction. Those psychopaths are the people running the big polluting corporations: the fossil fuel corporations, the logging and land-clearing corporations, those big emitting polluters who've got their blinkers on and are lining their filthy pockets with these rivers of gold at the expense of the very lives of some of the poorest, most vulnerable people on the planet. It's those people—the poor and the vulnerable, almost overwhelmingly the brown-skinned and a black-skinned people on this planet—who are going to pay the price for the things that the overwhelmingly white male psychopaths have done and are doing. So that is the truth. That is the context in which we debate this bill today.

I want to make the point that this bill obviously, self-evidently, has not yet passed the parliament, and Labor has already started undermining it. I mean, just this week we had the Prime Minister get up at a dinner hosted by the Minerals Council of Australia, the peak body of the big psychopathic emitters in this country, and assure them that they could basically keep on exporting fossil fuels indefinitely. I bet he got a good round of applause from the merchants of death in the Minerals Council. I bet he did. Do you know why they would be so happy? Because their ROI, their return on investment, for their political donations is the best investment they ever made.

It is not just the CEOs of the big emitters who are psychopathic. There are psychopaths in this place, and I use that term advisedly. They are shills in this place, those who shill for the big corporate emitters. You know who you are. You are psychopaths, because you are putting your own political wellbeing, or at least what you perceive it to be, in the short-term ahead of the very lives, potentially, of billions of people this century who are facing death, who are facing starvation, who are facing dying of thirst, who are facing dislocation as a result of your greed and your self-interest. That is what is happening as we debate these bills. These big emitters, time and time again, make it clear that they want to continue opening new coal, new gas, new oil. They want to continue clear-felling our beautiful, precious carbon-rich native forests, despite those actions being contrary to every single piece of legitimate climate science that we know as humans.

What we get from a lot of the media in this place when they report on Labor's climate position is actually a prediction of what they wish the Labor Party was rather than an accurate reflection of what the Labor Party actually is, and that is a massive problem in our public conversation in this country, that so much of what happens is filtered through centrists and incrementalists in our press gallery. Why is that the case? Because far too many journalists are more interested in maintaining access to power than they are in reporting the truth. They will continue to peddle the lie that close enough is good enough when it comes to our climate, because if they call the Labor Party out for what this bill represents—mediocrity at best—they will get fewer contacts, fewer invitations, fewer texts out of the cabinet meetings or out of the Labor Party caucus, fewer drops from Labor ministers.

I want to be really clear about one thing about this bill and this debate. Contrary to what the Prime Minister would have us believe, this is by no means the end of the climate wars, because the climate war is not some cosy little dinner club conversation. The climate war is not some little political tizz in this place. The climate wars, and they will escalate into the future, mark my words, are being fought in our communities. They are being fought on the fossil fuel infrastructure. They are being fought in our native forests. They are being fought by people who are standing up. Strength to their collective arms, I say. They are standing up for our future and for the future of our children, to give our children and our grandchildren the chance and the kinds of opportunities in life that so many of us had and so many people in this place take for granted.

The climate wars are not some little chat between the backroom operators of the Labor Party and a handful of press gallery minions; they are actually and literally a fight for the future of humanity and for this planet's capacity to sustain life. That is what the climate wars are about. That is why it will continue to get more and more serious as time goes by. That is why I will be fighting until the day I draw my last breath on this planet. Do you know what? They can put me on the compost heap when I'm finished; I'll keep on fighting them.

David Shoebridge (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Recycled packaging.

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Shoebridge. Indeed. I do want to credit one of my actual heroes in life for first using that phrase. That was Peter Cundall, one of the greatest leftists this country has ever seen. Peter Cundall was of Gardening Australia fame. Vale, Peter. He would be so proud to be described in this place as one of the greatest leftists this country has ever seen. I'm absolutely certain in saying that.

I'm going to pinch my nose and vote for these bills. But mark my words: the Greens are not going to settle for something that's simply better than nothing. We won't be settling for this. We will push Labor all the way. We will push them in relation to their blind addiction to fossil fuels. We will push them in relation to their blind addiction to logging native forests in this country. We'll do that because we are going to stand on the side of humanity; we're going to stand on the side of nature; and we're going to stand on the side of the environment. And we're going to stand against those psychopaths and big corporations who profit from destruction, and we will stand against the political parties they have in their collective pockets.

To the centralists, the centrists and the incrementalists who exist not just in the press gallery but, unfortunately, in some environment and climate groups in this country as well I say this: imagine if over the last few years you'd spent as much time cheering on the Greens as you did cheering on the Labor Party. Imagine over the last few years if you had spent as much time urging the Labor Party to increase its climate ambition as you'd spent urging the Greens to decrease our climate ambition. Just imagine how much better this legislation would be if you had taken those actions over the last few years instead of crab-walking into the centre and urging incrementalism on the body politic in this country. Just imagine the kind of future you could have actually worked to achieve for your children and your grandchildren. Imagine the better life and the better world you could have helped build, and imagine the better legislation you could have helped craft if you'd taken those actions. But, instead, you let mediocrity be the enemy of the good. I say to you all: do better next time.

8:38 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

So it has come to this. The globalists' 50-year long march through the institutions has come to this. Fifty years of bribery, coercion and censorship of the few remaining honest scientists has come to this. Fifty years of inciting hatred and violence against anyone who opposes the climate change agenda—of fear based control—has come to this. Our scientists, crony corporations, political parties and mouthpiece media have failed Australia.

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I always speak up for what is right. Again today I will speak up for what is right. The Climate Change Bill 2022 seeks to exploit fear based on fraudulent science to enshrine in legislation the subjugation of everyday Australians. On many occasions now, I have sought to alert Australians to the nightmare our lives will become under net zero. Those many speeches, motions and bills have made little headway in mainstream media where dodgy journalists protect the interests of their advertisers and billionaire owners and ignore the truth. The public have been deceived into thinking that human activity is what is causing natural events and that this bill is necessary to save Australia. Instead, the truth is that Australia will need to be saved from this bill.

This is not conjecture. There's ample evidence to support this position from overseas experience of the nightmare that results from acting on fake science and feelings instead of hard, costed data. Here's a quick summary. Firstly: greening the world and growing food. According to the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one-quarter of the increase in carbon dioxide in the last 30 years has been absorbed into plant life, leading to an increase in forest cover. This demonstrates the fertiliser effect of carbon dioxide or, as it's known, CO2. Although climate catastrophists think we can control the level of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, Henry's law of chemistry, nature and empirical scientific evidence show that we cannot and we do not. Let's assume, though—contrary to the science and nature—that we can. If it was possible for humans to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it would reduce the health of native forests and vegetation. Reducing CO2 would reduce crop yields, remove food from the tables of the world's hungry and require the increased use of chemical fertilisers that are made from natural gas—an irony lost on this bill's proponents.

The world is finding out, as Sri Lanka has found, that the trade-off here is between plant food and starvation. It's that simple. Forestation levels around the world have been rising since the 1980s because of the increase in CO2. Australia is currently gaining forest. Let me be clear for the benefit of the disinformation media: our continent is gaining trees, meaning the density of vegetation is improving, thanks to carbon dioxide. We're losing extent, though—much of it chopped down as part of so-called green energy construction such as building wind turbines, solar plants, access roads and transmission easements to take unreliable energy from where these things are built to where the power is needed. Thirteen thousand hectares of native vegetation is planned for destruction in North Queensland alone. I remember when greenies hugged trees, instead of chopping them down. Forests are being chopped down for biomass—woodchips! Can you believe it? Apparently woodchips are now renewable energy—oh, really!—spruiked on the BBC back in 2018 when the Drax coal plant was converted to burn trees imported from America in the name of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Burning trees produces more carbon dioxide than burning coal, yet 'warmers' never let the facts get in the way of their feelings. One Nation has always supported preserving our old-growth forest because One Nation supports real environmentalism.

Let's look at ocean health. According to NASA, one-half of the increase in carbon dioxide over the last 30 years has been absorbed in the ocean carbon dioxide cycle. CO2 is sequestered in silt and in biological sinks. Seagrass, mangroves, tidal swamps and wetlands all sequester carbon dioxide and grow, improving habitat for fish breeding. CO2 is a vital ingredient in phytoplankton, the start of the marine food chain—and we are at the top of that chain. The more carbon dioxide produced from all sources and then absorbed in the ocean carbon dioxide cycle, the more phytoplankton there are, leading to an increase in marine life. Healthier seafood density supports the continued harvesting of seafood as an affordable source of protein for people. The marine carbon dioxide cycle absorbs nitrogen and phosphates coming from natural and man-made sources. Phytoplankton absorb these elements as part of their growth cycle, producing oxygen in the process. The less carbon dioxide available to be absorbed the less oxygenation and the less healthy our oceans become. These are simple facts. If you understand nature and conservation, you'll understand this. Coral is calcium carbonate—'carbon-ate'—CaCO3. Some of the CO2 sequestered in oceans has helped coral growth, most likely contributing to the record coral cover across the Great Barrier Reef announced just a few weeks ago—another inconvenient truth.

Let's look at the third point: greening the earth mitigates temperatures. A new study reported on NASA's website shows increased vegetation during the current 'greening earth period', as NASA calls it, and that has a strong cooling effect on the land due to increased efficiency of water vapour transfer to the atmosphere. Without this, the world would be hotter; instead it is slightly cooler. Increasing carbon dioxide—plant food—fertilises our forests, increasing transpiration and leading to more water vapour transfer which, in turn, cools the earth. Earth's history shows periods of increased temperature cause increased evaporation from oceans, and that water vapour transfer further cools the Earth. We have a beautiful, self-correcting ecosystem that has maintained the Earth at a liveable temperature range for millennia—fact! This climate change bill is based on self-interest, arrogance, hubris and deceit, risking a natural ecosystem that will protect us from any variability in atmospheric gases, and always has protected us.

Next, renewable power is a fairytale. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get all our energy from the sun and wind for free? Oh, yes, that is the extent of the thought processes of many Greens and teal voters. But they're missing the obvious problem. Solar panels, wind turbines, transmission lines through the middle of nowhere, battery backups and access roads are not free. The direct loss of natural habitat from wind and solar is significantly greater than from any other form of power.

Four megawatts of wind or solar generation is needed to replace each one megawatt of coal, hydro and nuclear. To explain with an example, the New South Wales government's own website on wind power mentions their 850 megawatts of wind turbine capacity generating just—wait for it—1,941 gigawatt hours of power annually. With a coal or nuclear plant of that size, their 850 megawatts running 24/7 would generate 7,440 gigawatts hours per year. The actual wind turbine output of 1,941 gigawatts hours represents just 26 per cent of rated capacity for the wind turbine. What a joke these things are, and solar is far worse.

Let's look at battery backup. The Australian Energy Market Operator, AEMO, recently assessed the battery requirement for a net zero grid stability at 60 gigawatt hours. Power going into a battery loses 20 per cent in resistance, meaning 72 gigawatt hours of generation will be needed to produce just 60 gigawatt hours of output. Batteries cost $1.5 million per megawatt hour, meaning batteries for short-term grid stability will require an investment in excess of $100 billion every 10 years, which is as long as these bloody things last. This is just the start! Germany experienced an eight per cent reduction in output from wind and solar in the first half of 2021 owing to poor weather. No battery can keep the lights on during a sustained period of wet weather such as Australia has had these past two years. Blackouts will be normal.

For those who want 2050 net zero, nuclear is the only way to do net zero. Other countries who descended into renewable hell ahead of us are being forced to rethink to save their economies. South Korea has given up; it's announced a move away from wind and solar to nuclear. Germany will extend its last three nuclear power plants until base-load power can be restored from gas that produces carbon dioxide. Last week the UK government announced a huge new 3,200 megawatt nuclear plant. Nuclear plants across the world will grow 26 per cent through to 2050. Australia can supply the world with reliable safe coal for many lifetimes. Instead the world is going nuclear simply because wind and solar supply reliable base-load power and coal has been demonised. If this climate change bill passes, Australia will be forced to make this decision for nuclear power. Those who vote for this climate change bill, you are voting for nuclear power!

Let's look at the insane power bills that will destroy the Australia we know. Last week in Britain, the household energy cap increased from $21.60 to $60.20—it's tripled in just one year, and you're doing this! How can people afford that? We cannot! Commercial power has risen 600 per cent in one year. Widespread business closures are now likely. A glance at the graph of UK GDP shows that UK citizens are less wealthy now than back in 2007. The correlation of GDP stagnation with the retirement of affordable base-load power and the switch to wind and solar is undeniable.

German households are so desperate for heating, firewood is now being hoarded and woodchips are back in commercial use. Seriously, what's next? Is whale oil going to make a comeback? Despite $250 billion spent on solar and wind so far, and $250 billion still to come, Germany is planning for blackouts next winter. Ten per cent of German industry is threatened with closure and 40 per cent is under financial pressure. No wonder Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is holding a jobs summit concurrent with the climate change bill. Here's One Nation's submission to the jobs summit: stop destroying affordable, reliable coal power.

The mouthpiece media are blaming the war in Ukraine for the gas shortage in Europe, deliberately avoiding the real question: how did energy-independent nations lose their energy independence and become reliant on Russian gas? Wind and solar did that. Is this empirical proof that wind and solar are unable to sustain base-load power, or is it just stupidity in shutting down base-load power before replacements were built? The answer is both. With unrealistic and unnecessary time lines now embedded in the Climate Change Bill, Australia is about to walk the same path which has brought the rest of the world, especially the UK, Germany and Texas, only misery.

Let's look at costs. Wind and solar are only cost effective to build and operate if the cost is offset with taxpayer subsidies. Australian subsidies for wind and solar currently total $13 billion every year. Reuters reported last week that Australia will need about 40 times the total generation capacity of today's National Electricity Market to achieve net zero. This includes 1,900 gigawatts of solar and 174 gigawatts of wind—not megawatts, gigawatts. How is that even possible? It's not. As a comparison, Liddell coal plant is two gigawatts and at full capacity can supply five per cent of our current energy needs. Charging electric vehicles is a large part of this huge increase in power generation needed to reach net zero. The $20 billion cost of rewiring and upgrading the national energy grid to allow for the charging of electric cars dwarfs the total value of the National Electricity Market, which is only $11 billion in sales. What will that do to power prices? There is no costing in the Climate Change Bill because the costings are coming out at insane amounts of money. I have a second reading amendment to this bill to introduce a cost-benefit analysis for every government decision. Surely that is just prudent economic management.

On blackouts, last week AEMO announced its latest 10-year outlook for the National Electricity Market, which warned of reliability gaps affecting New South Wales from 2025 and affecting Victoria, Queensland and South Australia from 2030. Gaps, in this context, means structural backouts—not enough generation to meet demand. Today we know there will be backouts in 2025 and even worse blackouts in 2030. What is the government's plan to stop the blackouts we know are coming due to coal plant closures? There's no plan, because the Climate Change Bill is not about increasing energy output; its aim is forcing a reduction in energy consumption. They want us to use less energy.

The Climate Change Bill is about control. The only way to achieve any partial or long-term stability under net zero is to use smart meters to restrict energy use. Germany and America have already started that rollout. The South Australian government has announced the rollout of smart meters. Smart meters allow the energy operator or government to go in and turn off any appliance in your home that is connected to the fuse box—air conditioners, the hot water service, lights and power circuits can be switched off remotely. This is not intended as an emergency measure. It will be normal under net zero. Big Brother will reach into your home and decide for you what appliances you can use and when. In what used to be a free country, this is terrifying.

To the Greens and teal supporters who voted on the basis of feelings, not facts, I say you have been deceived. The experience of countries ahead of us on the net zero slippery slope has seen the destruction of small and medium business, the decimation of the middle class and intrusive government control. You will have less, and elite billionaires will have more. We are paying for our own enslavement.

It's time to vote against creating a world where native vegetation, crop yields, the marine environment and the entire biosphere, the beautiful biosphere, is being damaged through an absurd attempt to reduce carbon dioxide. Nature's essential trace gas is essential for all life on the planet. It's time to vote against a world where hunger and poverty will increase by design as a means of control. Have some decency. Vote against the Climate Change Bill 2022. Take a stand. We have one flag, we are one community, we are one nation. We are proud and grateful carbon based life forms.

8:53 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development) Share this | | Hansard source

Tonight I rise to contribute to the debate on the Climate Change Bill 2022 and Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022. The Climate Change Bill legislates the Albanese Labor government's nationally determined contribution change under the Paris Agreement of 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. In their words—I've been listening to the debate today—this bill is either unnecessary, if you listen to some, or, as the Greens say, it's largely symbolic.

Just to be clear, this isn't a debate today in this chamber about the science of climate change. It's actually a debate about the bill before us, which is to legislate that target. The Albanese government won the last election and have already changed our nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement, as they were able to do as the government of the day. They've made some changes to that document that we took to Glasgow last year, and I also am foreshadowing amendments to insert back some of the mechanisms that we as a coalition government put in. The debate is actually about the concern that legislating the target will bring.

From my perspective as a proud National Party senator and a regional Australian, this bill fails to take into account the impact that legislating the target will have on regional Australia. It fails to appreciate that there are some Australians, some industries, which will be disproportionately impacted by this compared to others. One of the great myths and, I believe, one of the great follies of the public debate over recent years has been that somehow a move towards net zero by 2050 will be painless; it will be sweetness and light; no-one will have a change to their job or an impact on their earnings; and there will be no negative impacts—that, in the words of Helen Haines, it's only going to be upsides and benefits for rural and regional Australia. The fact is that, when we held the committee inquiry into this bill, fast and furious as it was, it wasn't just the National Party saying that rural and regional communities and industries were going to be disproportionately negatively impacted by this; it was the trade unions, one after another, acknowledging that workers in traditional industries like mining, agriculture and manufacturing would be significantly impacted.

We also heard that increased lawfare by vexatious green activists—such as we've seen overseas when they've legislated targets—was going to occur. In the UK, when Friends of the Earth took action against the Secretary of State for Transport over the Heathrow Airport third runway, it held up that project for an incredibly long time. In Germany we've seen this level of lawfare because they've legislated. This is what has happened in a raft of countries, as is outlined in the coalition's dissenting report. That is concerning, particularly as this level of public infrastructure is so essential for us to increase productivity, prosperity, security and safety for our citizens and our nation going forward.

Concerningly, during the Senate inquiry, when we asked environmental activist group after environmental activist group about this—'You're all in favour of legislating this target and putting it into law, and you want greater action on climate change, and you're signing up, so does that mean, then, that you will refuse to take the Albanese federal government or any future federal government of Australia to court using this legislated target?'—one after another they all refused to guarantee that they would not weaponise what we're doing here tonight: legislating a target which we've already agreed to as a country through our nationally determined contribution—I assume the government has a plan for us to get there; I haven't seen that yet—and which they have said is both unnecessary and symbolic. We're actually opening up that sovereign risk for their own government and future governments, thanks to green activists.

We also heard about the significant impact on regional jobs and industries. Unions, industries and researchers didn't take a backward step when asked the question. Absolutely, rural and regional communities are going to be impacted. Absolutely, agriculture, mining and manufacturing are going to be the areas of our economy that will be impacted. There were a variety of ways that these different stakeholders sought to address that impact. I'll leave that for another day.

The third issue that was raised was a lack of transparency, accountability and measurement of what that impact would be; lack of a road map underpinning the target; and lack of understanding of who was going to be negatively impacted.

As the shadow minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, what I am incredibly concerned about is that the bill puts this overlay on 14 federal agencies to assess any given project on a methodology yet to be made public and understood. When we questioned these agencies, they had no idea how they were going to do this and what impact it would have. That raises justifiable questions: are public transport projects in major capital cities going to be prioritised over dams in Central Queensland, prioritised for federal public funding over roads like the Outback Way or the Inland Rail? Probably, but they couldn't tell me.

One of the things this chamber is supposed to do is actually hold government and executive to account, but you can't do that if they don't know what they're doing, and it was very clear to all those agencies from the north Australia authority, Infrastructure Australia and others that the methodology hadn't been determined, and they couldn't answer basic questions about how legislating this target and making their assessment decisions subject to it were going to impact the decision and who in this country, which communities, are going to benefit from federal government decisions into the future.

When it comes to regional jobs, throughout this debate industry bodies like the Business Council of Australia said we're going to get 195,000 new economy jobs to 2070, while other research providers like the IPA say 653,600 jobs are at risk in the regions. That's actually a negative shortfall of over 458,000 jobs. I want to see net zero impact on regional jobs and I want that guaranteed. One mechanism to future proof regional jobs in a future Paris pledge would be to insert caveats to protect the regions, to make it transparent what the impact of these pathways to net zero are on particular people, particular industries and particular places. And that's why, when our government updated the nationally determined contribution last year in Glasgow, we inserted the need for an independent socio-economic impact assessment for rural and regional Australia, something the Albanese government removed when they took power. They upped the target and took out the caveats of protection. They took out the caveats of accountability for future pathways to net zero. They took away the transparency that would ensure future governments take heed not only of the benefits that will supposedly come with this trajectory but also, to quote the mining council mayors, of the 'disbenefits'.

These mayors were very, very concerned that MPs were only talking about the benefits. Indeed, amendments moved in the other place only sought to assess and measure the benefits that this trajectory would bring for rural and regional Australia. Let's be honest about this: you can't just say we accept the science of climate change and then not accept the reality that some people are going to be more impacted than others. They haven't been consulted, these mining mayors. The Labor Party has not gone to these labour towns and actually had the conversation with them around the impact of legislating this target.

Only the National Party has entered the debate on carbon emissions concerned not with the electoral impact but with the actual impact. One benefit of belonging to a century-old party is that we've been around long enough to understand the impacts of the decisions of previous generations in this place. We've seen it, and the brutal truth is that the net zero path by 2050 will have losers and winners, and that's why last year we were able to secure, as a first tranche of investment, for our communities on that path, in excess of $20 billion of addition new funding into rural and regional economies to build that critical nation-building, future focused infrastructure, to diversify cities like Gladstone and places like the Hunter. We inserted that caveat around assessing the impact—the benefits and the disbenefits—for future governments to build on that $20 billion over the next 15 years. If you look at Europe, whence everybody likes to take their lead on action on climate change, they have over this time, significantly, put hundreds of billions of euros into their regional communities not only to help those communities take advantage of the opportunities but also to overcome many of the challenges that are coming with this pathway.

But we hear precious little debate about the impact of this legislation on actual people. There are a lot of self-congratulatory speeches and there's barely a reference to the reality that world carbon emissions will continue to grow, even as we do the right thing in this country and continue on a downward trajectory with our emissions profile. As I foreshadowed, we will be moving an amendment to the bill to establish a five-yearly assessment of socioeconomic impact by the Productivity Commission. That evidence is to be tabled in parliament every five years prior to future governments resetting that Nationally Determined Contribution target so that they can do it with eyes wide open of who's paying the price.

If you want to know why this is important, just check out Europe. It has led the way on global efforts to decarbonise its economy. Its member countries have also been confronted with and subsequently been forced to deal with unexpected and unforeseen geopolitical, economic and, indeed, climate realities that have resulted in member countries pausing their ambitions for the benefit of their citizens. Individual EU member countries have recognised that protecting their own citizens must come first to ensure adequate supply of the basics: heating, and reliable and affordable baseload power to sustain their national industries. Others, through the course of this debate, have highlighted what European countries—everyone from the UK to Germany—are doing in the face of unforeseen circumstances, and we must be prepared to do the same. We cannot be naive to the fact that we live where we live, nor, in particular, to some of those geostrategic considerations that may be coming our way in the future.

Our priorities have to include not only protecting our natural environment but also ensuring that regional jobs, regional communities and regional industries benefit from everything a government does. We heard evidence in the inquiry that the legislation will have significant economic and social consequences, including that all 89 coal, gas and oil projects currently in the construction pipeline must be cancelled. This is a direct quote from a submission: 'This will come at a cost of at least $274 billion across Australia, equivalent to 14 per cent of our annual GDP—480,000 jobs.' It's not ideology. It's not emotion. They're just the facts that we're all going to have to deal with.

I'll let others talk about the benefits of nuclear. It was great to see the AWU out in force, supporting a zero emissions baseload fuel source to keep their workers in high-paid manufacturing jobs into the future and ensure we can also do our bit to take down global emissions.

I didn't enter politics to help rich people get richer. I actually came into politics to help the marginalised, the vulnerable and the voiceless, and a lot of them are out where I live in rural and regional Australia. They are the people who provide the common wealth that we too often take for granted in this place: the truck drivers, the miners, the foresters and the farmers. As a proud National I will continue to stand by them, I will continue to stand up for them and I will continue to hold this government to account on their behalf.

9:08 pm

Ross Cadell (NSW, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As the minister responsible for this has admitted, these bills, the Climate Change Bill 2022 and Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022, are not required. Even today, the Greens have conceded that these bills are largely symbolic. Let's not gild the lily: this legislation does nothing to fix the climate emergency. Let's not have a lend of ourselves: this legislation does not lower emissions by one milligram. Let's not paint stripes on a horse and tell ourselves it's a zebra: this legislation does not save the planet. One thing this legislation is not is a plan. But this form of symbolism has consequences, and the burden of these consequences will be borne by regional Australia.

I will sideline a little bit. I was hurt by the words, 'If you oppose this bill, you are some kind of psychopath or a shill for the mining industry.' I think we are better than that. I think that lowers the tone of people's experiences in life, and I don't think it ends in a solution that we want in this party. Unlike most members opposite, I have lived with coal for most of my life. Growing up, I could see the drag lines from my parents' kitchen window every morning. My community in the Hunter, which the Labor Party claims to represent, runs on coal. From the mines to mechanics and the general store, without support, as we have seen in Europe, it is these communities that will lose their jobs, security and, ultimately, hope. How do I face people I went to school with who work in the industry and tell them I didn't do enough to protect their jobs, their homes and their families? None of them want to hurt the planet. They don't want to jump in the Ranger and go off to work with dreams of melting glaciers. They just want to put a meal on the table and a roof over their heads. How do I tell Scott that if he manages to get a job paying $70,000 less I didn't stand up for him? We must not fall into the same trap as Europe. We must learn from their mistakes in the past and we must ensure we support those who will be impacted the hardest.

The Nationals believe in practical action to address the impacts of climate change and a 'no person and no place left behind' approach to the transition. It appears that all parties of government believe we need to reach net zero, and I think they do believe it can be achieved. But I also believe targets based solely on ideology without any real plan will not achieve a fair outcome for communities.

I am one of the few in this place that went to COP last year, I toured regions in the north of England and parts of Scotland that have been crippled by sudden and severe reduction and elimination of steel mining and manufacturing. The advice that was most common when I was asking the question about a way to look for a transition was, 'We can show you how not to do it.' The Nationals believe that decarbonising the economy needs to be fair and just.

I sat on the inquiry for this legislation. I also listened to the evidence presented to us of the intended and unintended consequences that these bills would yield. The committee was presented with evidence that a typical worker in regional Australia is over three times more likely to have their job put at risk by the policy of net-zero emissions by 2050 than a typical worker in the inner-city. This is because workers in regional areas are far more likely to work in industries such as coalmining, heavy industry and agriculture. We received submissions, as my leader before me said, that showed that, to achieve the government's target, all 89 coal, gas and oil projects in the construction pipeline must be cancelled. This will come at the cost of approximately 480,000 jobs which would have otherwise been created.

The UN has stated a global transition towards a low-carbon and sustainable economy will have both positive and negative impacts on employment. Policymakers must smooth the edges of this transformation by developing just transition policies for affected workers and their communities. In 2021, the European Union announced the European Green Deal, a package of more than 500 billion euros providing tangible investments to deliver sustainable social outcomes as member states transition their economies. Neither these bills nor the government to date have acknowledged the same principles outlined by the EU or the UN. The committee was not furnished with any evidence either by submission or by testimony that the government has any intention of a similar package being developed or considered.

Those opposite quote the science and the infallibility of the IAEA when they say that wind will grow 25 percent higher on average over the next five years and solar 24 percent, but they can't accept the same body and the same science saying that, without an important contribution from nuclear power, the global energy transition will be that much harder.

Those opposite also want all the corporate climate change strategies of Europe but want to supply none of the safety measures for regional communities that were put in place. Regional Australia under the Greens-Labor policy is to get all of the pain and none of the gain. The Australian government cannot guarantee through faith alone that the promise of carbon-neutral jobs from new industries, energy projects and technology will be in the same communities as those predicted job losses.

The Nationals consider that legislating a 43 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 without a complementary package of financial support for affected communities and carbon-intensive industries, particularly in rural and regional Australia, presents a clear and present danger to the welfare of our communities. The Nationals believe that a guaranteed investment package based on the United Nations principles, to develop leveraging opportunities generated from the global focus on technology advancements to decarbonise economies, is required. If managed properly and administered sensibly, such investments have the potential to grow the Australian economy and create new work opportunities in the regions whilst transitioning those impacted workforces and local economies.

The Nationals believe there is widespread community and industry support to establish a regional transition authority, or several, to address specific regional communities and outcomes. We need to get the boots on the ground. The inquiry heard it has specific support from the likes of the Business Council of Australia, the Grattan Institute and the Blueprint Institute to do this.

Over the last two decades we have been told we must listen to experts in transitions to net zero. Listening to the experts over two days of hearings, we heard Mr Tennant Reed say:

To achieve the net zero transition, we are going to need to build a lot of big things and many distributed small things around the country: major new mines for lithium, for rare earths and for a range of other inputs …

Can we afford to delay the mining approvals for these things if we are to transition but no plan is in place? Ms Constable said:

By 2030, globally, we need to increase lithium production fourfold, double rare earth element output, deliver a 67 per cent increase in nickel and produce 32 per cent more copper.

Our new net zero economy relies upon increased rooftop and farm solar products and electric vehicles, and all of these elements require rare earth minerals sooner rather than later. However, Ms Constable said, the problem is:

In terms of what is being suggested, we will need a lot more copper investment to occur, and nickel and cobalt to occur.

That is not happening. Mr Zavattiero said:

I don't think we're on the right trajectory with things like copper; we're not exploring enough and not finding enough of the new mines of the future.

If we aren't doing enough to build the things to get there, we are in trouble. Without these resources, building the connectivity required for Labor's 82 per cent target for renewables is not going to happen. If we are to transition to net zero, we need to increase mining of rare minerals. This will also assist in growing our economy and offsetting potential job losses. Where is the plan for this? Where is the support for this? There is none.

Tomorrow morning, this bill will proceed. It is a goal without a plan, giving the regions fear but not hope. We will be told we have to honour the percentage of science that affirms the views of those opposite whilst ignoring the science that they don't agree with. Essentially, that is what this bill is—what I stated at the beginning and came from the mouths of some opposite: a bill that is largely symbolic or, as the minister responsible said, a bill that is not required. Why are we doing this?

Photo of Andrew McLachlanAndrew McLachlan (SA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

Minister, please sum up the debate.

9:18 pm

Photo of Jenny McAllisterJenny McAllister (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Deputy President. The passage of this bill would be a landmark day for climate action in Australia. The government is proud of this legislation. It's a demonstration of our commitment to ambitious action on climate change, to transparency and to accountability on this defining issue of our time.

We are entering a new phase. We move on from discussing whether we will join the global transition and instead discuss how. We are working with workers, businesses, farmers and climate advocates. We can and we must take strong climate action and start taking the real and necessary steps to create a low-carbon future, and that is what this bill does.

These bills provide the clearest signal this parliament can provide that Australia is serious about climate action, serious about building a net zero economy and serious about capturing the jobs, the investment and the other benefits that a net zero economy will bring. These bills demonstrate that we are serious when we say that we care about future generations and the effects of climate change on the world they will inherit.

The Climate Change Bill legislates Australia's emissions reduction targets to be achieved by 2030 and by 2050. It makes clear that these targets are a floor, not a ceiling, on our ambition. The bill enhances accountability and transparency through an annual statement to parliament, reporting on Australia's progress towards the targets informed by independent expert advice from the Climate Change Authority. It provides for independent advice from the authority on future targets. The consequential amendments embed consideration of the targets into the objects and functions of a range of Commonwealth entities and schemes, focusing effort and ensuring that they are all pulling in the same direction.

These bills have been developed and added to following collaborative good faith discussions with other members of parliament. In July the government invited the Australian parliament to end the climate wars that have stymied and delayed action for so many years, and many across the parliament accepted that invitation. The government consulted with interested members of parliament in good faith. We have agreed to reasonable amendments that strengthen the bills, are consistent with the government's election mandate and will facilitate the passage of these important reforms. The government thanks those members and senators for their engagement.

The government also thanks the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for its comprehensive report on the bills. Naturally, we agree with the committee's recommendation that the Climate Change Bill and the consequential amendments bill be passed. The committee also recommended that, after the bills are passed, the government undertake further consultation on possible legislative amendments and policy responses, including reviewing the use of native forest wood waste for renewable energy and the transition arrangements for Australian workers affected by decarbonisation.

On Tuesday Minister Bowen announced the government will release a consultation paper on the native forest wood waste issue, inviting stakeholder views on the changes recommended by Senator David Pocock and the Greens party. The concerns raised relate to a decision by the Abbott government in 2015 to put native forest wood waste back into the scheme. The government will consider next steps in light of the results of that consultation and look to make any necessary changes to the regulations by the end of the year. We understand that the issue raised relates to eligibility under the Renewable Energy Target. It is not a reflection on the government's general support for sustainable native forest industries and the workers that depend on those industries. Minister Bowen had previously committed to exploring further amendments to primary and subordinate legislation to embed the targets and the Paris Agreement into a wider set of relevant legislations and schemes. We will undertake that review and consult with stakeholders, implement further actions and report back to parliament in the second annual statement. We will welcome suggestions for further amendments.

Looking beyond the bills to the broader implications of the net zero transition for Australian workers, I note that the Greens, in their dissenting report, recommended that a statutory authority be established. Climate action brings enormous job opportunities, but it also brings challenges. At last week's Jobs and Skills Summit the government committed to a coordinated approach with industry, unions, local governments and communities to assist affected workers and regional communities prosper in a clean energy future. We will continue to work with states, territories, unions, industries and communities to deliver a framework for net zero economic development in our regions, including through the national energy transformation partnership agreed by energy ministers last month.

As the Prime Minister has said on numerous occasions, this is a government that will make sure that no-one is held back and no-one is left behind. That includes the workers who build, maintain and operate our energy system and who are so crucial for its transformation. Decarbonisation of the global energy system and the broader economy presents immense opportunities for Australia's regions and reduces the serious threats to rural and regional areas that arise from unchecked climate change. This government is committed to harnessing these opportunities and to a brighter, more hopeful and more prosperous future.

The Greens also recommended, in their dissenting report, that a climate trigger should be placed on all projects in development so that the Minister for the Environment and Water can assess projects against the government's emissions targets. The government will formally respond to the Samuel review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to help strengthen Australia's environmental protection law. The government has committed to introducing legislation in 2023, following extensive consideration and consultation. We're currently consulting on changes to the safeguard mechanism to cover existing and new facilities with over 100,000 tonnes of direct emissions.

I also thank Senator Andrew Bragg for his engagement with the Senate inquiry into the bills. I'm pleased to say that the government agrees with him that the market should be supported to invest in low- and zero-emissions energy and the transmission infrastructure required to decarbonise. Our Powering Australia and Rewiring the Nation policies are providing that support. We note Senator Bragg's recommendation that the Australian government should support the supply of gas as a transition fuel. We understand gas is not a low-emissions fuel but does play an important part in helping power communities by firming peaking electricity and as a feedstock and source of heat for industry. We also concur with Senator Bragg's view that Australia should be a first-mover in legislating an emissions disclosure regime. We are committed to ensuring large businesses, including financial institutions, provide Australians and investors with greater transparency and accountability when it comes to climate related plans, risks and opportunities. The Treasurer is leading work to introduce a standardised, internationally aligned reporting requirement to ensure that climate related disclosures are usable, credible and comparable, which will be informed by substantial consultation. The government does not, however, agree with Senator Bragg's recommendation to lift the nuclear energy prohibition. This is a distraction from the need to implement cuts to pollution now to meet our targets and to put downward pressure on power bills through the deployment of renewable energy.

I thank Senator David Pocock for his contribution to the Senate committee inquiry and his genuine engagement with the government to discuss the bills. As a result of those discussions, the government will be agreeing to a number of amendments relating to the transparency and content of the annual statement to parliament and the Climate Change Authority's advice.

The government does not accept the other recommendations in the report.

I note that some opposition senators have raised concerns about this bill enabling climate litigation. The legislation does not change the statutory decision-making for other legislative schemes, such as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The idea that it gives rise to new causes of action or litigation against resources projects is just another excuse. BP submitted to the Senate inquiry:

… our hope is that by legislating the target and providing a transparent and accountable framework for its delivery, the legislation might even reduce the uncertainty that can sometimes be a driver for litigation

Santos, when questioned on the risk of litigation, said, 'No.' The Department of Climate Change, Energy the Environment and Water submission stated this: 'The bills do not create new legal risks for the Commonwealth.' They explained that the bills are different from the UK bills, so the same risks do not apply.

This is typical of the objections so frequently raised by the opposition. They are so often prosecuting concerns that seem to be shared by them alone and are out of step with agriculture leaders, with business leaders, with not-for-profits and, indeed, with common sense. The truth is that those opposite have been too busy arguing with themselves to do anything over the past decade. They squabbled their way through 22 energy policies and in their last year of government oversaw one of the biggest spikes in emissions in 15 years.

Our government is acting to end the years of delay, dysfunction, denial and denigration. These bills will lay the foundation of the biggest economic transformation in our lifetime. This is our duty to our children, to our grandchildren and to future Australians. This is necessary to safeguard Australia's environment, our community and our economy, and this is necessary to unlock the innovation and investment that we need to drive jobs and growth in the industries that will underpin our prosperity in the decades to come.

Senate adjourned at 21:29