Debate begun on Labor’s climate change bill in the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning, as the Greens and several independents look to strengthen it.
Greens leader, Adam Bandt is due to soon announce the Greens’ position on the bill at the National Press Club, after voicing some concerns about the legislation while pushing for a “climate trigger” for coal and gas projects.
Labor’s climate bill would legislate net zero emissions by 2050 and a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030.
Climate change minister Chris Bowen has been in various negotiations with the Greens and independents since the election, and has been open to “sensible suggestions” to improve the bill.
On Monday, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced “climate trigger” legislation to the Senate, that would force the government to assess the impact of emissions from future coal and gas projects on climate change. The Greens have been pushing for this as the government’s climate change bill leaves room for the approval of new coal and gas projects.
The government needs the support of the Greens and one independent, most likely David Pocock, to pass the bill in the senate.
Independent MP Kylea Tink said she believes the legislation is an “important, symbolic first step” for climate action in Australia and that she has been pushing for changes to ensure accountability in the climate bill.
“The initial draft that was shared in good faith with me as a member of the crossbench some weeks ago relied heavily on putting parliamentary and public “trust” in the climate change minister to do the right thing,” Tink told Women’s Agenda.
“The truth is that is not good enough when it comes to legislating positive change, and so I have worked with the minister to increase the role of the parliament, all members of parliament, to increase transparency and enable greater insight into what advice is being received from where and when.
“The amendments that I have fought for will help ensure parliamentary responsibility and accountability over the minister’s response to the scientific advice that comes forward from the Climate Change Authority.”
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday morning, independent Zali Steggall said she welcomed the government’s legislation as an initial step but noted she thought the 43 per cent target was driven by politics, not science. However, she was glad to see the government moving forward to provide confidence for communities and business.
She also thanked Labor for its collaborative approach to the climate bill – including making changes to ensure 43 per cent is a “floor, not a ceiling”, although she thought the government was “settling” with its 2030 target.
She urged the government to listen to the science and not approve more coal or gas projects, and to aim for 80 per cent renewables by 2030.
“We’ve been on notice for over 30 years yet failed to find the political will to implement the solutions,” she said. “More needs to be done. We have constant reminders of need for action.”