On Thursday, Labor’s Climate Change Bills passed the Senate, legislating Australia’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said that the legislation will provide the energy policy and investment certainty required to usher in economic growth and opportunity in a decarbonising global economy, putting Australia on a credible path towards net zero.
“The passage of the Climate Change legislation sends a message to the world that Australia is serious about driving down emissions, and serious about reaping the economic opportunities from affordable renewable energy,” said Mr Bowen.
“Legislating these targets gives certainty to investors and participants in the energy market and will help stabilise our energy system.”
Under the new legislation, the Climate Change Authority will be tasked with providing independent and expert advice to the government on Australia’s progress towards net zero.
Other agencies, including the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Infrastructure Australia and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, will also embed amended targets in their objectives and functions.
‘Transformational investments’ required
Innes Willox, chief executive of national employer association Ai Group said taking emissions to target levels will take “transformational investments” in industry, power, transport and more.
“Making those investments requires business confidence that the basic framework of public policy will be strong and stable. These bills will help provide that basis for investment,” Mr Willox said.
“What's useful in the bills is not just that they provide a clear steer on national ambition. They cement strong transparency on how we're tracking. They require regular independent advice and public consultation on future targets — and we will have to adopt a 2035 target within the life of this Parliament, so that conversation begins now.
“And they will make government itself more coherent by aligning a swathe of existing agencies and funds with the national climate goals.”
Greater certainty for super funds
In welcoming the legislative “win”, Aware Super CEO said Thursday's “milestone” represents “a critical step forward” in strengthening Australia's response to the threat of climate change.
“We believe climate risk is the single greatest investment risk in our portfolio today,” said the fund’s chief executive officer, Deanne Stewart.
“Institutional investors the world over recognise the magnitude of the threat posed by human-induced global heating,” Ms Stewart noted.
“Enshrining Australia's emissions reduction targets in legislation provides all superannuation funds greater certainty in the medium term to help guide investment decisions on behalf of our members. This will be particularly important as new investment opportunities emerge through the process of transitioning the domestic energy market in the years ahead.”
Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.