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Living Lightly column

We need the Act now

By Lauren Salathiel

There exists a window of historic opportunity right now for Australia to commit to the decarbonisation of its economy and net-zero emissions by 2050, via new federal legislation being introduced to the parliament in early November.

Independent member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, is relaunching her Climate Change Bill on November 9, after first introducing in February this year but putting the process on hold to enable parliament to deal with the Covid-19 emergency.

Designed based on New Zealand and the UK’s own national climate legislation, the Bill would legislate for a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as requiring government to commit to five-yearly emissions budgets, multi-sectoral emissions reduction plans, national risk assessment and adaptation plans.

These measures are crucial to providing businesses and investors with certainty around climate change planning, emissions reductions and new opportunities for economic growth.

They’re also integral to ensuring we’re able to limit global warming to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible, no later than 2050.

Indeed, with countries like the UK, New Zealand, Canada and the European Union already adopting this net-zero target, Australia risks lagging behind if we do not act decisively and quickly.

What is needed to see this Bill pass, is for members of parliament to be allowed a conscience vote on the legislation. Which is where you come into the story…

Right now we are in a position to lobby our local federal members to demonstrate support for a conscience vote on the climate bill, and ensure community sentiment is reflected in our federal members’ votes on this critical legislation.

Fortunately, there are resources out there to point us all in the right direction on this count. The website climateactnow.com.au provides a platform via which you can register your support for the Bill and for the parliamentary conscience vote.

It also provides a detailed description of how the Act would work, what it would mean for individuals, communities, industry, business and the economy, as well as tip sheets and helpful guides for contacting your member of parliament to ask them to support the Bill.

As Zali Steggall says, “The impacts of climate change represent the greatest threat to our national security, our economy, our health and our environment.”

By writing an email or letter, or phoning our local MPs today, we have the opportunity to do one simple but significant thing to stave off this threat.