Zero carbon emissions target called for by community organisations

Contributed from Victoria

A range of community sector organisations have called on the Australian government to act on climate change, and they have called for a parliamentary inquiry, with public hearings and community participation.

They suggest that progress towards a transition to zero emissions has been poorly managed, and that this is a major threat to “achieving the vision of ending poverty, creating economies that are fair, peaceful, and inclusive”.

Community organisations that have joined the call

CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, Cassandra Goldie said:

“Climate change is causing immediate and accelerated damage, including through more severe and frequent heat waves, bushfires, droughts, floods and sea level rise. It is not only damaging our environment, it is damaging people’s homes, livelihoods, health, quality of life, employment, and cost of living, and is increasing risks and burdens for future generations”.

Analysis by Deloitte Access Economics finds a lack of climate action over the next 50 years will cost our economy $3.4 trillion and 880,000 jobs, plus a great deal of damage to lives. The longer we delay and avoid emissions reductions the greater the costs will be. 

Deloitte has found that if action is taken in line with a target of net zero emissions by 2050, 250,000 jobs will be created and $680 billion added to the economy.

Change is not going to be possible without a plan that not only provides the nation with confidence that emissions will be reduced. It needs to provide support for people and communities to undergo a transition, as well as ensuring their active involvement through every step.

The community sector organisations are backing Independent MP Zali Steggall’s Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020, It is now before the parliament, and it is far more extensive than anything else presented up till now.

Photo by Mick Tsikas/AAP: Zali Steggall

It explicitly calls for a national plan that will consider economic and social issues in the process of achieving a zero emissions target by 2050, and that this should progress through the application of detailed 5-year plans.  

The Bill includes the necessity of sharing the burden fairly, guaranteeing community participation and self-determination, and national and international cooperation.

This is ambitious and should be supported, while recognising, that it alone will not be enough.

The bill is not likely to get the numbers in a political system geared against it, unless its application is left entirely to the machinery of the existing political structures and reliance remains on a corporate led solution.The Bill does not escape this fatal limitation.

On the other hand, it does lift the bar about what is needed, and shines a light on the inadequacy of the government response to the climate emergency. It will help to raise the public’s expectations and therefore contribute to the further growth of a movement for change from below.

The further growth of this movement is the key, so long it is clear on what it demands form the political elite, and goes about the business of building community participation as the driving force for change.

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