‘Name and fame’ Australia’s climate champions

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Scientists have called on the government to “name and fame” the industry sectors leading Australia’s emissions reduction push, recommending the disclosure be added to Labor’s landmark climate change bill.

Key scientific developments in climate science should also be a reporting requirement in the new legislation, which will require climate change ministers to update Parliament annually on progress towards legislated 2030 and 2050 targets.

The call comes from Science and Technology Australia, the peak body representing 90,000 scientists and technologists, in its submission to the current Senate inquiry into the Climate Change Bill 2022.

The group wants the bill passed with the additions and accompanied with a funding boost for climate science research.

The Climate Change Bill would require ministers to annually update Parliament on emissions reduction progress

Introduced by Labor as one of its first moves in office, the legislation would create a legally binding target for the first time in Australia to cut greenhouse emissions compared to 2005 levels by 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

The new law would also require government agencies and ministers to consider and demonstrate progress towards the targets in a move current Climate Change minister Chris Bowen says is similar to the Closing the Gap reporting.

The Coalition opposed the bill when it passed the lower house earlier this month, but it has support from the Greens and will become law with the support of one crossbencher such as David Pocock or Jaquie Lambie in the Senate.

The main bill and a consequential amendments bill are currently the subject of a Senate standing committee inquiry which is expected to report by the end of the month after public hearings in Canberra this week.

In one of nearly one hundred written submissions to the inquiry, STA strongly urged the Parliament to pass the bills, recommending increased disclosure to encourage more action.

The science group said the industry sectors doing the heavy lifting should be highlighted in the reports to Parliament.

“‘Naming and faming’ sectors making swift strides towards the target will highlight examples of industry leaders and spur momentum in Australia’s transition,” STA chief executive Misha Schubert said.

“It will also send an important message that we are all working together to achieve a common goal, and making genuine progress.”

Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts already provides the United Nations with annual reports on greenhouse gas emissions in some sectors like energy, agriculture and industrial processes. These industry sectors could start as a baseline for the new annual progress reporting to Parliament, with more sectors added in consultation with industry groups.

Ms Schubert said the annual statements should also include an update on significant developments in climate science to assure Parliament and the public policy decisions are “informed by the latest science”.

STA also called for more funding for climate science in Australia to better match the scale of the challenge.

“Climate change is an urgent threat. Australia must act concertedly in these crucial next few years to make our transition as smooth and successful as possible,” Ms Schubert said.

“A deeper investment in Australia’s outstanding climate scientists will ensure we continue to have the expertise we need to safeguard our economy, safety and prosperity.”

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