Zali Steggall believes commitment to net zero by 2050 is a no-brainer

‘It’s a no-brainer’: Zali Steggall introduces climate bill seeking bi-partisan support


Independent MP and climate advocate, Zali Steggall has introduced a Federal bill to the lower house, calling on the government to push for a net-zero target by 2050.

The bill, which was supported by Rebekah Sharkie MP, and Helen Haines MP, seeks to establish an Independent Climate Change Commission (CCC) to oversee the transition and set economy-wide emissions budgets and national plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill also seeks to set out a National Climate Risk Assessment, as well as implement more transparent monitoring schemes. Steggall’s bill calls for five main actions: 

  1. Establish a commission (CCC) that functions as an independent arbiter to guide policy and provide crucial accountability that is less prone to political influence.
  2. Establish a net-zero target by 2050 in statute which aligns with the Paris Agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s best available science.
  3. Establish national Economy-wide emissions budgets and plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions based on advice from the CCC which considers factors like technology readiness and the best available science that creates the conditions necessary for business to plan and invest over the medium and long term.
  4. Establish a National Climate Risk Assessment which provides regular risk assessments to identify risks across the country’s economy, society, and environment.
  5. Ensure there is transparent monitoring, reporting, and accountability. “Transparent monitoring and reporting will give businesses and investors adequate information on how the Government is preparing for a net-zero economy and allow for efficient allocation of capital,” the bill expressed. “Overall, increasing transparency will make Australia’s markets more efficient, manage the financial risks, and transition our economy for more stability and resilience.”

    In her speech in Parliament, Steggall congratulated Biden, saying she looked forward to a more science based- commitment to climate change. “It’s time to establish a climate change commission,” she said. “There is no more room for spin and talking points. We’re not on track and Australia is already feeling the impact of Global Warming.”

    “We are exposed to the worse of climate impacts. We know that policy, based on factual scientific advice is the only one that will be successful.”

“We have the financial wealth, the human capacity, the scientistic innovation and THE potential for soil re-generation. We should take advantage of the boom that is coming.” 

Steggall said the bill’s framework is similar to those in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and New Zealand and is an opportunity for a bipartisan approach that will ensure new areas of opportunity. 

In conjunction with her announcement in Parliament, Steggall spoke on a panel hosted by The Australia Institute, alongside former Chief Scientist Penny Sackett, who endorsed its objectives.

“We’ve had ten years of divisive policies,” Steggall said. “We need to find the solution that is actually bipartisan. We need something that embraces what 80 percent of Australians want. We need something sensible.”

“It’s time to legislate common goals. These budgets can be more ambitious as technologies evolve. People will have employment changed. In fossil fuel and mining, we’ll need a plan. We need the independent science commission, as we’ve seen the benefits of this for COVID-19, we need to do the same for climate change.” 

“Over the last four years, the temperatures have gone up by 0.4 percent. We need to step up and lead and be fuelled by the science. We need to try to bring a unifying and collaborated approach. I’ve met with PM, the opposition leader. I have done the rounds. These consultations have suggested amendments.”

Steggall emphasised the criticality of public pressure.

“This is a long term safety issue. This is a moral issue. Public pressure is the way to get this through and the committee process is important,” she said.

“I’ll be pushing for that vote to happen. It is up to the Australian people to put that pressure on. Go to your employer. Ask them what is their policy. Are they committed? What measures are they committed to to offset their carbon emissions?”

Steggall said she would “push for bill to return to house for a vote” and “make this a bipartisan support.”

“This is happening all around the country. I’m only one vote here. Every electorate has to do their bit. Otherwise we will all pay the price. Climate change will impact everyone.”

The Member for Warringah also stressed the importance of diversity of thought and a collaborative approach to finding a solution.

“We need a biodiversity of communities. The more variety in a workplace, the more prosperous that community is,” she said.

“I want a collaborative approach. All sectors have their say. We need to hear from indigenous voices, the unions, the business council, minerals council. Everyone should be part of this transitions plan,” adding that Australia needs “scientists, businesspeople, water and food security experts, jobs experts– all sectors to make sure we have a plan.”

Penny Sackett agrees, saying that science will mandate a stronger pathway to change. 

“We’re sitting at 1.1 degrees of warming,” she said. “That’s not safe. Remember the bushfires earlier this year when billions of animals lost and human lives were lost? We know that 1.5 degrees is going to challenge us. We don’t want to go above that.” 

Sackett also stressed the importance of time.

“Time scale is important,” she said. “We need to do it quickly because there’s a finite emissions budget. There’s only a certain amount we can spend before we go beyond 1.5. What’s important is our safety, protecting the earth that protects us and taking action quickly.”

She said the bill was strong because it recognises the importance of acting fast.

“We can’t wait till 2049,” she said. “We have to start now. We know how to do it. We have almost all the tools we need. We just need to employed them. We can end 2020 with this bill would be hopeful.” 

“Scientists are saying more than ever, we need to keep global heating as close to 1.5 as we can. Even at 2 degrees, the risk is very high to our natural world. 1.5 is where we want to be. We can’t do it by dragging our feet.”

On Monday morning, Steggall spoke with Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast.

“For me it was a clear commitment that we need to put a sensible solution on the table when it comes to climate change,” she said. “The Australian people have had enough of the argy-bargy of politics of this. This is about our national safety.”

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Last summer’s devastating bushfires are a mark of the immediate and deepening risk climate change poses to our natural environments and communities. But there are opportunities for Australia to prosper, given our enormous natural, human and financial wealth. Tomorrow I’m seconding Zali Steggall’s Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020. The enactment of this Bill would ensure Australia has a clear and positive national response to the challenges of climate change. It’s what Australians are calling for, and what Australia needs. This Bill would align us with United Kingdom, Germany, France, New Zealand and several other countries with effective climate laws in action. #ClimateActNow #ClimateChangeBill2020

A post shared by Helen Haines MP (@helenhainesindi) on

“The cost of not acting far outweighs the cost of not acting. It’s a no-brainer.”

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