Industry hopeful for end to climate wars

Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)

 

An independent MP’s climate change bill has piqued the interest of Australia’s peak industry group, which hopes it will heal political division on the issue.

Zali Steggall, the independent who won the NSW seat of Warringah from former Liberal leader Tony Abbott on a platform focused on climate change, unveiled her environmental proposal on Monday.

Ms Steggall’s draft legislation would rubberstamp net zero emissions by 2050 and set up a Climate Change Commission.

Mr Abbott abolished such a commission, created by Labor, just two years into its existence when he became prime minister in 2013.

Every five years, the commission would create a national climate change risk assessment, using the latest science to outline the risks to the economy, society, agriculture, environment and ecology.

The Australian Industry Group will consult with its members over the coming weeks to see if the proposal would maintain trade competitiveness.

The group’s chief Innes Willox says climate policy had divided Australian politics for too long.

“In places such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, with which we share political tradition, we see a healthier balance of agreement on goals and competition on the best ways to achieve them,” he said.

“The same is increasingly true here in Australia among the states and territories. The bill put forward today could potentially provide the common ground to cross that divide.”

Ms Steggall unveiled her bill flanked by other members of the lower house cross bench.

She has urged the government and Labor to support the proposal.

Clean Energy Council chief Kane Thornton hopes the bill brings an end to “political squabbling” on climate action and help renewable energy investments bounce back.

“The absence of a federal energy policy has resulted in a recent downturn in renewable energy investment,” he said.

“With renewable energy responsible for just over 20 per cent of Australia’s total electricity generation, there is a significant opportunity for the industry to expand its role in combating the effects of climate change.”

The proposal comes as climate and energy issues continue to weigh on the government.

As Australia recovers from a bushfire-ravaged summer, some government MPs want more climate action while others are cheerleading for a new coal-fired power plant in Queensland.

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