The Guardian • Issue #2016

EDITORIAL

Climate action looming as first Parliamentary sitting approaches

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2016

Parliament is meeting at the end of this month for the first time since the 2022 Federal Election with promises of significant reforms, including climate action.

One of the centrepiece election promises of the ALP, the Albanese government is to introduce a suite of legislation designed to signify a change in direction from the near-decade of Coalition government. The first legislation to be brought forward is to enshrine a forty-three per cent emissions reduction target for 2030 into law, along with a commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Secondly, it will legislate to place “in law the Climate Change Authority to assess and publish progress against these targets and advise government on future targets, including the 2035 target,” according to Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen. It will also legislate a requirement for the Minister for Climate Change to report annually to Parliament on progress in meeting our targets.

While the latter two pieces of legislation are likely to pass without much resistance, the Albanese government is anticipating pushback on its emission reduction targets – and with good reason.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has qualified the target as being “not science-based” and “too weak.” Further speaking on the bill, Bandt stated that his objections were concerned with a potential ceiling on the target, needing the government to return to parliament to raise targets: “If a future government wants to increase the targets, as we will be pushing them to do, that has to come back to parliament […]. […]Governments should be able to increase the targets without having this law as a ceiling.” Other concerns centred on the bill not including provisions to stop future governments reducing targets or building new coal and gas projects.

Labor has been on the attack, with prime minister Anthony Albanese recalling the fall out between the two parties over the carbon emissions tax:

“If the Greens Party haven’t learned from what they did in 2009 – that was something that led to a decade of inaction and delay and denial – then that will be a matter for them […]. It’s time to end the climate wars. What that represents is something that would have been seen as being impossible a couple of years ago. […] To stop the nonsense and to work to the clean energy future that will create jobs and create a better environment.”

Bowen has made similar comments about not entertaining compromises, stating that “If there’s a good idea which improves, not undermines, the bill I’m happy to hear it and work with it. But we won’t be entertaining any amendments which are not consistent with our agenda and mandate […].”

It should be noted, however, that with an increased crossbench – the largest in parliamentary history – other groups have mandates too. The Greens increased their vote share by 1.9 per cent, claiming multiple Lower House seats and expanding their presence in the Senate. Meanwhile, the ALP, while winning government was down by 1.4 per cent. Not to mention the sudden appearance of “Teal” MPs who ran on greater climate action. If the ALP is serious about taking action on climate change and respecting the voices of all Australians it should take note of the incredibly different composition of parliament and attempt to work with these progressive forces to deliver more robust climate action.

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