The new Victorian Climate Change Bill - will it make Victoria a world leader?
Last week the Victorian Government introduced the Climate Change Bill 2016 into Parliament. If passed, this Bill will repeal our current inadequate Climate Change Act 2010. The Government says this legislation will make Victoria a world leader on climate action. But will it?
The argument that climate emissions reduction should be left to the Commonwealth – for example via a national emissions trading scheme – and that States should just tinker around the edges has never rung true for us. And with the repeal of the federal carbon price by the federal coalition government, State action has never been more important. So we are pleased that the Victorian Government recognised the need and the opportunity and are taking responsibility for reducing Victoria’s emissions.
Environmental Justice Australia has been advocating for Victoria to implement strong climate laws for many years and many elements of our proposal for Climate Charter legislation have been picked up in this Bill.
The Bill contains many important and useful measures such as emission reduction targets, a mandate for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and a strong whole of government focus on emission reduction. While not perfect, this Bill is far better than the current Climate Change Act. It’s a significant reform and a genuine attempt by the Victorian Government to live up to its commitment to “subnational” (State) leadership on climate change. If implemented by a government that is committed to climate action it should do a lot to drive emission reduction and adaptation and focus government agencies on the opportunities that could arise from tackling climate change.
However, the Bill could go further in mandating government action. Our concern is that in the hands of any future government which does not share the current government's commitment to action on climate change, many key parts could be ignored. So while the Bill is welcome, there are questions about whether the mechanisms under the Act will be enough to ensure that the government's aspirations are met. It is critical therefore that the current government embed the plans and actions under the Bill into practice as soon as possible to demonstrate that there is nothing to fear from taking strong action on climate, and that in fact there will be numerous benefits to Victoria.
For a more detailed analysis and views read our briefing paper on the Bill (PDF, 222KB).
Image source: Julie Fahnestock