What is it?
The Victorian Climate Change Act was introduced in 2010. In 2012, the then government substantially gutted the Climate Change Act, making it ineffective.
The Climate Change Act must be reviewed every 5 years. Last year, the state government commissioned an independent expert panel to review that Climate Change Act and its effectiveness.
What did they find?
The review panel found that the Act was ineffective, and in light of recent international agreement and further improvements in the certainty of climate science, the Act needed a major overhaul. The review panel made a series of recommendations to the Climate Change Act to ensure meaningful reductions in Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that Victoria was properly prepared for the impacts of climate change.
The Independent Review Panel made 33 recommendations. Here’s a summary of their key recommendations:
The Act should contain legislated targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These targets should:
- be based on the best available science;
- align with international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- include a long term target that places Victoria on a pathway to limit global temperatures rising more than 1.5 degrees; and
- interim targets, reviewed every 5 years, so that they can be strengthened if the science shows they need to be.
The Act should contain a Climate Change Charter. The panel noted that a major reason that the current Act is ineffective is that it does not require government to consider climate change in all relevant decisions. The Charter will change this. The Charter contains principles and objectives for dealing with climate change. If included in the Act, government plans, policies and decisions, as well as the Victorian Climate Change Strategy would need to be consistent with the Charter, similar to how the Victorian Human Rights Charter currently operates. Here’s a diagram showing how the Charter applies:
- Requiring government decisions that have climate change implications to consider the Charter and whether the decision will impact whether the emissions reduction targets will be achieved.
- Create a legal right for people to review government decisions in Court, if those decisions do not comply with the requirement to consider the Charter and the emissions reductions targets
- The government should produce the Victorian Climate change Strategy every five years. The strategy must align with the Charter and must also:
- Detail risks and likely economic costs of climate change to Victoria
- Set out plans for adapting to climate change impacts, including reducing the impacts of disasters
- Summarise government policies to meet the emissions reductions target
- Include each Department’s pledge to reduce emissions
- Require each government departments and agencies to pledge to deliver an amount of emissions reductions across their portfolios.
What we think
The Victorian government has committed to leadership on climate change. Although they have made it clear that it is the Commonwealth governments role to lead on a carbon pricing scheme, the review provides the Premier Andrew and Environment Minister Neville and their colleagues in government with the green light they need to proceed with an ambitious agenda of legislative reform and action.
The report itself is a very thorough analysis from leading experts who received submissions from a wide range of individuals, local government, business and community groups. Their report lays out clear agenda – now we need strong leadership from the government as well as support from the opposition and other elected representatives.