Climate bill ignored by major parties

Climate bill ignored by major parties

The Climate Change Action Bill, the nations first climate change Bill, which I introduced into the Senate in December 2006, was debated on Thursday March 22, 2007. Neither the Government nor the Opposition supported the Bill.

It was the first attempt in Australia to set legally-binding national targets for greenhouse gas emissions, 20 per cent below 1990 by 2020 and 80 per cent below 1990 by 2050. The main provisions of the Bill are: ratify the Kyoto Protocol; set emission targets for 2020 (20 per cent below 1990 levels) and 2050 (80 per cent below 1990) including annual progress reporting and five-year review periods; introduce a Greenhouse Trigger into the EPBC Act for any action likely to result in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in any 12-month period; require large energy users to undertake energy efficiency audits and to implement identified energy savings measures; introduce a national energy-savings target; require a minimum price to be paid for renewable energy; increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target so renewable electricity contributes at least 15 per cent to national demand by 2012 and 25 per cent by 2020; and immediately end the harvesting of old growth forests to maintain existing significant carbon stores.

Two hours was the allotted time for the debate. None of the governments ministers spoke (speaking list filled with climate sceptics) and the only shadow to speak was Kate Lundy who was apparently instructed not to admit that Labor was opposing the Bill.

This came after Labor joined the government in voting down a Greens motion calling on the government to adopt the 20 per cent below 2020 target. Labor joined in the government in also voting down Greens amendments to the Energy Efficiency Opportunites Bill which sought to require the 250 corporations, each using more than 0.5 petajoules, to implement the energy savings identified in their efficiency audits. It is apparently enough that they conduct the audit. The setting of a national energy efficiency target was also voted down by both in that debate and again as part of the Greens Climate Bill yesterday.

Both Labor and the Government are opposed to any target for 2020.

Senator Christine Milne

Australian Greens


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