House Standing Committee on the Energy and Environment
PO Box 6021
Canberra ACT 2600
Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020
To the House Standing Committee on the Energy and Environment regarding the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020
Dear Committee Secretariat,
Thank you for the opportunity to provide a submission into the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020 (Climate Change Bill 2020) and taking the time to consider our submission.
This is a submission supporting the Climate Change Bill 2020.
The government is responsible for the environment, the health and wellbeing of its citizens, and the financial security of the nation. As we see the impact of increased carbon emissions, we also find evidence of the deleterious impact on Australian native wildlife, the Australian people and the wealth of the nation. There is only 6-7 years left at present emission rates of the 2013-2050 emission budget to stay below 1.5°C. Therefore, at current emissions rates, Australia will have exceeded its carbon budget for 2050 by 2026. By 2055 Australia will experience economic losses on par with covid, getting worse every single year due to unchecked climate change.5
CLEANaS is the Clean Energy Association of Newcastle and Surrounds, a not-for-profit association formed in 2012 by a group of locals passionate about clean energy. CLEANaS is dedicated to driving the uptake of clean energy so that our region can transition from its current dependency on fossil fuels to a more competitive and sustainable local economy. We achieve this by working with our partners to demonstrate profitable community-led and community-owned clean energy projects; raise the profile of clean energy in the local economy through education and awareness raising; and by improving access to financing mechanisms and affordable technologies so that investment and activity grow. Our initiatives must deliver a win-win for local community investors, local enterprise and, of course, our environment.
Climate Change ImpactsThe impacts of climate change on the environment are significant and severe. The present scientific consensus is that the earth's climate is warming due to human activity, and the negative impacts of increased greenhouse gas emissions are measurable globally and nationally.
Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910, which has led to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events. The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO reported that there has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and in the length of the fire season, across large parts of the country since the 1950s, as evidenced by the catastrophic bushfires in the summer of 2019/2020. They also noted changes in rainfall, with decreases in the southeast and southwest of Australia as shown by the devastating drought in 2019. Oceans around Australia they stated are acidifying and have warmed by about 1°C since 1910 bringing longer and more frequent marine heatwaves. In the past 5 years there have been three major mass-bleaching events at the Great Barrier Reef resulting from these marine heatwaves, and resulting in the destruction in over half of the reef’s corals. The Great Barrier Reef has an economic, social and iconic asset value estimated at $56 billion, contributes around $6.4 billion annually to the Australian economy and supports over 64,000 jobs. Sea levels are also rising around Australia, increasing the risk of coastal inundation and damage to infrastructure and communities.2
The government is responsible for the environment, the health and wellbeing of its citizens, and the financial security of the nation. As we see the impact of increased carbon emissions, we also find evidence of the deleterious impact on Australian native wildlife, the Australian people and the wealth of the nation.
Emission goals and carbon budgetsTo address the issue of dangerous climate change, Australia, along with 196 other parties, is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016. The Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, by:
Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
In 2016 Australia emitted 1.2% of world greenhouse gas emissions. This made Australia the world’s 14th biggest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution, despite having just 0.3% of world population. On a per capita basis. Australian emissions are the highest in the OECD and among the highest in the world. The only countries with higher per capita emissions than Australia are smaller petro-states like Kuwait, Qatar and UAE.  
Australia has a very modest target to reduce emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. However, Australia is projected to fall short of even this unexceptional target with only a 16.5% reduction by 2030.
The IPCC report provides an estimate for a global remaining carbon budget of 580 GtCO2 (excluding permafrost feedbacks) based on a 50% probability of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees relative to 1850 to 1900 during and beyond this century and a remaining carbon budget of 420 GtCO2 for a 67% chance. 
Committed emissions from existing and proposed energy infrastructure represent more than the entire carbon budget that remains if mean warming is to be limited to 1.5 °C and perhaps two-thirds of the remaining carbon budget if mean warming is to be limited to less than 2 °C. Estimates suggest that little or no new CO2-emitting infrastructure can be commissioned, and that existing infrastructure may need to be retired early (or be retrofitted with carbon capture and storage technology) in order to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals.
From Jan 2017 until 2050 Australia’s remaining emission budget for a 50% chance of warming to stay below 1.5C warming relative to pre-industrial levels was estimated to be 5.5 GTCO2e.7 Adding the GHG emissions expended in 2017, 2018, and 2019, this leaves just 3.8 Gt CO2e remaining as at December 2019. This leaves 6-7 years left at present emission rates of the 2013-2050 emission budget to stay below 1.5°C. Therefore, at current emissions rates, Australia will have exceeded its carbon budget for 2050 by 2026.
Economic risksDeloitte Access Economics noted that some of the most significant risks to Australia’s economic growth trajectory are from the physical risks associated with a changing climate and the unplanned economic transition risk from the world’s response to this changing climate.16
Their analysis showed that the Australian industries hardest hit by the Covid 19 pandemic, would also be the most vulnerable to the effects of a warming world and climate change. Australia’s agriculture, construction, manufacturing, tourism related industries and mining sectors all featured consistently in the top industries exposed to the risks of covid, climate change and the unplanned economic transition as the world responds. Deloitte Access Economics estimated that by 2055 Australia will experience economic losses on par with Covid 19.16
This BillCLEANaS supports the passing of this Climate Change bill. This bill aims to ensure a clear and positive national response to the challenges of climate change through:
- A Net Zero emissions target by 2050
- Risk assessments and adaptation plans
- Technology readiness assessments
- An independent advisory body
The UK government introduced a similar bill 12 years ago and set targets and adopted policies to achieve those targets without significant political controversy. Their initial 80 % reduction by 2050 was later updated to net zero emissions by 2050 last year. Similarly, they also have a climate change committee providing advice on how to proceed.
Australia’s Climate Politics have been toxic for a long time now with a lack of bipartisanship and aptly described as climate wars. The degree of bipartisanship shown by both major parties in dealing with the Covid 19 crisis solving problems based on science is what is needed here through this bill. Zali Steggal (Nov. 1 2020) recently said “No matter what your reason for coming to the debate on climate is, there is room for everyone to want action…It’s time to take the party politics out of this and move forward with a plan”. CLEANaS considers that this bill can contribute to ending of the climate wars and take climate change out of Australian politics in a similar way to what happened in the UK.
Net Zero Emissions by 2050The IPCC stated that global emissions need to reach net zero by 2050 to be consistent to limiting warming to 1.5 °C.5 Long-emissions reduction commitments through an initial legislated target of Net Zero by 2050 combined with 5 yearly emissions plans and budgets as proposed in this bill will help ensure that Australia can play its part in keeping global warming within safe limits and fulfil its international obligations. Furthermore, modelling has shown that moving towards a net zero emissions economy would unlock financial prospects in sectors including manufacturing and renewables triggering a $63 billion investment boom. Deloitte Access Economics estimates such a new growth recovery could grow Australia’s economy by $680 billion (present value terms) and increase GDP by 2.6% in 2070 – adding over 250,000 jobs to the Australian economy by 2070.
Many of Australia’s trading partners have adopted net-zero targets, with 73 countries now having adopted net zero 2050 targets.17 Moreover, a national net zero 2050 target has strong support with 68% of Australians supporting such a move. CLEANaS aligns itself with the 68% of Australians supporting a national net zero 2050 target.
All Australian states and territories have committed to a net-zero emissions target. For example, NSW Climate Change Policy Framework details the NSW Government’s objective to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This long-term objective “sets a clear statement of government’s intent, commitment and level of ambition and sets expectations about future emissions constraints that will help the private sector to plan and act.” The Policy Framework states that the NSW Government will investigate how to embed consideration of climate change mitigation and adaptation across government operations including service delivery, infrastructure, purchasing decisions and regulatory frameworks. Furthermore, it states that Agencies will undertake additional policy investigation for sectors with significant opportunities and risks, including primary industries emissions and adaptation.
Similar to the UK Climate Change Act, the bill also includes continual adaptation planning with annual Risk assessments and 5-year adaptation plans as impacts of climate change are likely to materialise over time.
The bill also includes annual technology readiness assessments to advise the government on which technologies are ready to be implemented and which need more research, and potentially more funding and support to develop.
Climate Change CommissionAn essential part of the bill is the establishment of an independent advisory body (similar to the successful UK Committee on Climate Change) called the “Climate Change Commission”. This bipartisan appointed body through a science led approach would monitor progress on emissions and climate resilience, conduct independent objective analysis, and advise the government on what solutions are required. It would provide a level of transparency and legitimacy and facilitate more informed decision making on climate change. The UK Committee on Climate Change is regarded as the “fulcrum” of the UK climate change architecture, independent, strong and trusted, the Climate Change Commission would hopefully follow in these footsteps.14
This Climate Change bill would enable Australia to catch up to the many other countries in the world on action on climate change. It is important for Australia to join in with the rest of the world, particularly now as a Biden US presidency will change the world stage for significant action on climate change. This proposed legislation allows our government to step up quickly to these new challenges. CLEANaS considers that this Climate Change bill will assist Australia to catchup with the action on climate change undertaken by many other countries in the world.
Thank you for considering our submission,
CLEANaS Chair on behalf of CLEANaS
 NASA (n.d.) Scientific Consensus: Earth's Climate is Warming. Retrieved from https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
 BOM (2020) State of the Climate 2020. Retrieved from http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/
 Readfearn, G. (2020, April 7). Great Barrier Reef's third mass bleaching in five years the most widespread yet. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/07/great-barrier-reefs-third-mass-bleaching-in-five-years-the-most-widespread-ever
 Deloitte Access Economics (2017, June 23). At what price? The economic, social and icon value of the Great Barrier Reef. Retrieved from https://www.barrierreef.org/the-reef/the-value
 IPCC (2018). Global Warming of 1.5°C: An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
 Swann, T. (2019, July). High Carbon from a Land Down Under: Quantifying CO2 from Australia’s fossil fuel mining and exports. Retrieved from https://www.tai.org.au/sites/default/files/P667%20High%20Carbon%20from%20a%20Land%20Down%20Under%20%5BWEB%5D_0_0.pdf
 Ritchie, H. (2019, October 4). Where in the world do people emit the most CO2? Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/per-capita-co2
 Department of the Environment and Energy (2019, December) Australia’s emissions projections
2019. Retrieved from https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-07/australias-emissions-projections-2019-report.pdf
 Meinshausen, M. (2019, March 19). Deriving a global 2013-2050 emission budget to stay below 1.5°C based on the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C. Retrieved from https://www.climatechange.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/421704/Deriving-a-1.5C-emissions-budget-for-Victoria.pdf
 Tong, D., Zhang, Q., Zheng, Y., Caldeira, K., Shearer, C., Hong, C., Qin, Y., & Davis, S. J. (2019). Committed emissions from existing energy infrastructure jeopardize 1.5 °C climate target. Nature, 572(7769), 373-377. https://doi-org.ezproxy.newcastle.edu.au/10.1038/s41586-019-1364-3
 Climate Council (2018) Australia’s Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved from https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CC_MVSA0143-Briefing-Paper-Australias-Rising-Emissions_V8-FA_Low-Res_Single-Pages3.pdf
 Cox, L. (2019, March 14). Australia's annual carbon emissions reach record high. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/14/australias-annual-carbon-emissions-reach-record-high
 DISER (2020, May) National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: December 2019. Retrieved from https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/national-greenhouse-gas-inventory-december-2019
 Fankhauser, S., Averchenkova, A. & Finnegan, J. (2018, March 10). 10 years of the UK Climate Change Act. Retrieved from https://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/10-Years-of-the-UK-Climate-Change-Act_Fankhauser-et-al.pdf
 Cox, L. (2020, Oct 12). Net zero emissions target for Australia could launch $63bn investment boom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/12/net-zero-emissions-target-for-australia-could-launch-63bn-investment-boom
 Deloitte Access Economics (2020, November) A new choice: Australia’s climate for growth. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/Economics/deloitte-au-dae-new-choice-climate-growth-051120.pdf?nc=1
 TAI (2020) Climate of the Nation 2020 Tracking Australia’s attitudes towards climate change and energy. Retrieved from https://www.tai.org.au/sites/default/files/Climate%20of%20the%20Nation%202020%20cover%20[WEB].pdf
 Climate Council (2020, July 9) NT puts Australia on track for net-zero climate target. Retrieved from https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/nt-puts-australia-on-track-for-net-zero-climate-target/
 OEH (2018). NSW Climate Change Policy Framework. Retrieved from https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Climate-change/nsw-climate-change-policy-framework-160618.pdf