4 December, 2020
2020 will be a year to remember. From the horrendous bushfires to COVID-19, these crises have given us glimpses of the disruption to come if global warming continues unchecked.
Fortunately, nations around the world have lent on science and experts to chart a path through an unprecedented economic and health crisis. Few have done it better than Australia.
With COP 26 in Glasgow delayed, many believed COVID-19 would depress global climate action but instead COVID has increased resolve around the world to lean on science and tackle the clear and present danger of climate change.
There is now a seismic shift happening. Countries like South Korea, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom are leading on climate by committing to net zero by 2050 – 70% of our two-way trade is now covered by a net zero by 2050.
Under president elect Biden, the US has pledged to lead on climate. The pressure on Australia will be unrelenting.
Underpinning global geopolitical shifts is the acceleration happening in global markets for low emissions technology. The cost of renewables continues to decrease exponentially, defying analysts’ expectations. Renewable energy auctions are oversubscribed by several magnitudes; private capital is hunting for net zero investments. Investors are rewarding destinations with strong climate and energy policies.
So, it begs the question, where is the Morrison Government leading Australia? We are at a historic crossroad. After years of denial and delay, it is the time for resolve.
Only two months ago, in Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor mocked a commitment to net zero by 2050 and pushed a climate hostile ‘gas-led recovery.’ This week they are shifting and would like to “get to net zero as soon as possible.” Their tone is changing but the brakes are still on.
Numerous ‘Modern’ Liberals keep spruiking the Government’s empty talking points without delivering any real emissions reducing policies. Clearly, if the Morrison Government continues to drag their feet, communities will have no choice but to turn towards independents and replace those modern liberals.
How about we call time on playing political games with Australia’s future? How about Team Australia step up?
We do not need to re-invent the wheel; we can look to other countries for inspiration. The United Kingdom passed their Climate Change Act in 2008. It establishes in law a framework to get to net zero by 2050, with clear accountability and an independent Climate Change Committee that is effective and respected.
Whole sectors in the UK are booming under their framework, like the low emissions car industry and the offshore wind sector. Clean industries now employ over 460,000 people. Their emissions have also dropped by 29% since the Climate Change Act came into force; Australia’s not meaningfully since 2013.
On the 9th of November, I introduced to parliament a Climate Change Bill modelled on the UK’s Act. Since then, we have had major Australian companies, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and Council of Small Business organisations representing every sector of the Australian economy, saying that this is the legislation that is needed in Australia.
The Climate Change Bill is now with the Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy for inquiry. This is the first parliamentary inquiry into committing to and legislating net zero by 2050 and a framework to get there. The Committee is receiving hundreds of submissions, from individuals and organisations - overwhelming Department servers.
I have written to the Prime Minister urging him to lead Australia to a safer future. He has a strong mandate to listen to the science as he did on COVID and act. It’s time for Australia to join the race to net zero.
For more information on the Climate Change Bill inquiry click here: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/ClimateBills2020