Climate change is back in the spotlight as a growing number of groups urge the Morrison government to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.
Business leaders, scientists and government department officials have appeared before a parliamentary hearing looking at enshrining the target in legislation.
The climate change bill is not supported by the federal government but a broad coalition of stakeholders believe it is a sensible path forward.
Independent MP Zali Steggall, who put forward the private member’s bill, said it was time for politicians of all persuasions to address climate change policies.
“The government and especially the minister is, with respect, at the moment, playing politics with our future,” she said.
“They are not interested in listening to the business community, industry, science, our medical professionals, on what needs to be done with urgency.
“They are instead focusing on political games and delaying what needs to be done.”
Energy Minister Angus Taylor argues the bill would just create more bureaucracy.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor was open to discussing the climate change bill.
“But at the moment, of course, the truth is that the government has the numbers in the House of Representatives,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“And therefore with private member’s bills, it’s difficult for them to come to a vote.”
If legislated, the proposal would rubber-stamp into law a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, and set up a Climate Change Commission.
The bill has wide support from environment, industry and business groups who have long been calling for certainty on climate policy from the federal government.
Scientists have urged the federal government to replicate its expert-led approach to the coronavirus in tackling climate change.
Science and Technology Australia says the nation’s successful approach to the pandemic provides a model for tackling climate risk and the transition to a net zero emissions economy.
Australia’s virus strategy is among the best in the world, the group’s president Jeremy Brownlie says.
“The last year has clearly demonstrated that to protect lives and livelihoods, we need to listen to the scientific evidence and use it to guide policy,” he said.
“The terrifying bushfire season last summer in Australia was a sign of things to come.
“If we don’t transition to a net zero emissions economy, we’ll see further lives lost, lasting damage to our unique flora and fauna, and more local communities devastated by fire and drought.”