Climate a national security issue: PM

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has reiterated the need to legislate emissions reduction targets, describing climate change as a national security issue.

The government will introduce its climate bill to parliament this week when it meets for the first time since the election.

However, negotiations are under way between the government and the Greens, with party leader Adam Bandt looking to raise the emissions reduction target and future-proof it.

The bill would lock in an emissions-reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030, as well as net-zero by 2050, with the relevant minister also required to provide updates on how the targets are being met.

The Greens have called for a higher emissions reduction target, saying 43 per cent should be viewed as a floor and not a ceiling.

The prime minister said the target was consistent with what Labor took to the election, and the increased target meant Australia was taken more seriously on the global stage.

“We have been able to walk through the door of international discussions, not just about climate but about trade and economic relationships,” he told MPs at a Labor caucus meeting on Monday.

“That change has made an enormous difference. Climate change is a national security issue. That is well understood throughout the world, but nowhere more so than with our Pacific neighbours.”

Mr Bandt said he wanted to ensure climate measures could not be reduced by future governments.

“You shouldn’t be able to go below this weak target of the government’s, but it also can’t be a ceiling,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“It can’t put in place obstacles for governments in the future that might be more climate-ambitious to lift the target.”

The Greens have also called for an end to new coal and gas projects as part of the climate bill.

The party has yet to decide its final stance on the bill, which will be determined following negotiations with the government.

“We don’t want Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer to be able to put a handbrake on future governments listening to the science and lifting the target,” he said.

“The legislation also at the moment doesn’t compel the government to do anything.”

The legislation would need the support of all 12 Greens and one additional crossbencher in the Senate in order to pass.

Independent senator David Pocock said 43 per cent was not enough and more action was needed.

However, he indicated he had not seen the draft legislation.

“There is a community expectation that we do legislate something, we need certainty for investment and for our community and to get on the path of being good international citizens,” he said.

“I’ve talked publicly about it needing to be a floor and not a ceiling and we have to make it so that we can actually ramp up ambition.”

Opposition employment spokeswoman Michaelia Cash said the coalition backed net-zero emissions by 2050, but was unlikely to support the bill.

“We are not going to devastate the Australian economy,” she told reporters in Canberra.

“We are committed to net zero by 2050 utilising technology, not taxes … the coalition’s position is very, very clear.”

Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)


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