Independent MP Zali Steggall has presented her new climate bill as a way to break the deadlock on climate action. But it avoids the key question of what policies we need to cut emissions—and so will get us nowhere.
It would simply set up a Climate Change Commission to draw up five-year plans on how to reduce emissions, focused on a target of zero emissions by 2050. But labelling the plans “independent” is just a sleight of hand. There is no way of avoiding the debate about what mechanisms are best to reduce emissions. If the Commission proposed a carbon price, another carbon tax, it would only generate the same opposition about higher power prices that the Liberals used to undermine support for climate action under Tony Abbott.
The fact that the Bill has attracted support from not just business figures like Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes but even the Business Council of Australia, which represents the country’s 100 biggest corporations including oil and gas company Woodside and mining giant Rio Tinto, should set off alarm bells. They see it as a way to argue for climate policies that won’t hurt corporate profits.
We need the kind of action that will impose costs on business—large-scale government investment in jobs and renewable energy, paid for by taxing corporations and the rich. Steggall’s Bill would only set back climate action.