Zali Steggall calls for end to the ‘climate wars’
11 February 2020 at 4:17 pm
“Let’s run a line in the sand on the past divisions we have had,” Steggall says
A private member’s bill to implement a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 has been backed by the charity and business sectors.
Independent MP Zali Steggall announced on Monday she would introduce a Climate Act bill to reset the policy debate in Australia and shore up the nation’s commitment to long-term climate action.
Alongside a net-zero emissions target by 2050, the bill would also mandate a National Climate Risk Assessment and a National Adaptation Program.
An independent Climate Change Commission would also be established to advise the government.
With the Coalition party room deeply divided on the issue of climate change, Steggall urged Parliament to end the “climate wars” by passing the legislation.
“2020 is a new decade. Let’s run a line in the sand on the past divisions we have had,” Steggall said.
“I really urge my fellow MPs to think of this on a matter of principle… This is for the long-term safety of Australians.”
Steggall pointed out that framework legislation has been successful in other countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Ireland – reducing emissions and advancing the climate change debate by taking the politics out of it.
Since the UK Climate Change Act (2008) has been in place, the UK’s GDP has grown by 67 per cent, while emissions dropped by 42 per cent.
Steggall’s plan has been backed by Oxfam Australia, which says the bill would help strengthen Australia’s “existing and woefully inadequate 2030 emissions reduction targets”.
Oxfam climate change advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw said Australia needed to break free from decades of policy paralysis and partisan battles over climate action.
“This bill represents the minimum action necessary to bring Australia into line with comparable countries and to get us on the path to zero emissions as soon as possible,” Bradshaw said.
“It is an important and practical step that deserves support from all sides of politics.”
The Business Council of Australia has also come out in support of the bill, with CEO Jennifer Westacott telling Q&A on Monday that Australia needed to go net-zero by 2050.
“I reckon if we could get the two political parties to agree to that and legislate it, we would have made a massive advance in this country because we would know where we’re going,” Westacott said.
“For business that does want to take action in this space, that would at least give us a kind of certainty about where are we heading.”
These comments contrast sharply with the council’s position in 2018, when it labelled Labor’s 2030 pledge for a 45 per cent emissions cut below 2005 levels as “economy wrecking”.