Climate Act Now
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Climate Act Now

Stories/657 , Issues/Policy , Issues/Environment
Canberra ACT
19th Mar 2020
Climate Act Now
A new decade with a long-term vision for climate action. Are we about to see a major reform of Australia’s climate policy?

Over the past two decades, Australia’s climate policy has been subjected to cheap political point-scoring and hindered by short-term party visions. But now, a nightmarish bushfire season has reignited calls for the Federal Government to take meaningful action on climate change.  

Rising above the two-party division with a plan of action is Independent MP Zali Steggall, best known for her victory over former PM Tony Abbott in his previously-held seat of Warringah. 

On March 23, Ms Steggall will introduce the Climate Change framework Bill to Parliament. She’s calling on all MPs to vote on the Bill with their conscience to end the “climate wars”. If passed into legislation, Australia will finally have its own Climate Change Act. 

Ms Steggall is urging all Australians to sign her online petition and write to their local MPs in support of the Climate Change Act. #CLIMATEACTNOW is growing in popularity and has already acquired 60,000 signatures. 

“This Bill is a sensible and bipartisan approach to safeguarding Australia’s future against the impacts of Climate Change,” Ms Steggall said in a media release. 

The Bill – backed by fellow crossbenchers Rebekha Sharkie, Helen Haines and Andrew Wilkie – is modelled on similar legislation passed in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland. 

The United Kingdom’s Climate Change Act was introduced by an independent member in 2008 and was passed in a near-unanimous vote. Since then, emissions have fallen dramatically to below 1860s levels. A national Climate Act ensures that emissions reduction targets are reached – no matter which party is in power. 

“It is time to take the party politics out of climate policy. We need to set out a roadmap for Australia to become a low carbon economy without all the fear-mongering and misinformation,” declares Ms Steggall. 

The proposed Climate Change Act includes a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050 and the formation of a Climate Change Commission (CCC). The CCC would act as an independent advisory body to the Government to ensure transparency in the monitoring of progress. 

It would also perform annual National Climate Risk Assessments to identify the imminent and long-term risks of climate change. 

The risks associated with our changing climate have become more apparent with the recent loss of life, land, and wildlife in the nation-wide bushfires. 

“The devastating fires that ripped through Australia over summer; the drought; and our deteriorating air pollution have shown how the impacts of climate change are a real threat to our way of life,” Ms Steggall says. 

SUPPORT FOR THE BILL

The Bill has garnered considerable support from high-profile individuals and organisations throughout various sectors. 

Professor Ross Garnaut – distinguished author of Superpower: Australia’s Low-Carbon Opportunity – is a vocal supporter of the proposed Climate Change Act. He says that “it provides an opportunity for the Australian Federal Parliament to move decisively beyond the Climate Wars”. 

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes says the Bill is “the exact type of action we need to change Australia’s international reputation on climate. It deserves bipartisan support”. 

Among countless other activist organisations and social movements, School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) has voiced its support for Ms Steggall’s Bill. SS4C is a renowned international movement inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Last September, it united over 4 million people worldwide for a massive protest against climate inaction. 

Warringah-based SS4C organiser Vivienne Paduch says that the Climate Act is a crucial stepping-stone on the way to achieving climate justice for all Australians.

“Climate action is essential for Australia; we cannot wait any longer. We acknowledge that the Bill does not fulfill all of our demands, but because the Bill provides a framework, there is space to improve targets and timelines after the Bill is passed in Parliament”.

SS4C is urging all Australians to sign the #CLIMATEACTNOW petition.  

“It is crucial for public momentum to gather behind this campaign. Public pressure will be the only motivator for the Coalition to take climate action,” Paduch says. 

“It is important to show support for the Bill by signing on the website and adding your voice to the count. From there, you can share the petition, contact local MPs and have conversations in your community,” she concludes. 

Legislating a national framework for climate action will ensure greater accountability for those in power and provide a plan to address the challenges of the future. The success of this Bill may be the key to ending the climate wars in Australia – once and for all. 

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