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Climate Change Bill tabled in Parliament

The Climate Change Bill 2010 was introduced to Parliament on 27 July 2010.

The main objective of the Bill is to create a new framework to help Victoria respond to the challenges of climate change and establish a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent compared with 2000 levels by 2020.

The Climate Change Bill 2010 was introduced to Parliament on 27 July 2010.

It passed through the Upper House on September 3. All main parties supported its passage. Our release is here.

For an opinion piece on the Bill check here.

The main objective of the Bill is to create a new framework to help Victoria respond to the challenges of climate change and establish a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent compared with 2000 levels by 2020.

The Bill will:

* create an obligation for government decision makers to take into account climate change when making policy changes
* require the preparation of a Climate Change Adaptation Plan every for years 
* require the preparation of biennial reports on climate change science and emissions data
* provide for a once off independent review of the Act by 2015
* make amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1970 to expand the EPA's regulatory powers to include greenhouse gases
* establish a new forestry and carbon sequestration rights framework

We congratulate the government on  delivering this BIll and urge all parties to strengthen and support it.

The Bill was debated for the second time in the Lower House on August 12. Check here for our release.

It will be debated in the Upper House probably on August 29. 

Back ground materials

We need a strong Climate Change Bill for Victoria

The state ALP has committed to developing a Climate Bill for Victoria. The draft structure will be released before the state election in November.

This is our last chance to have influence over the structure of the Bill. Given the failure of the federal government to act decisively to reduce greenhouse gases, it is now imperative that the Bill be as strong as possible.

Please write immediately to the Premier and members of Cabinet. Feel free to add your own thoughts and ideas to the letter – but if you want to see a meaningful Climate Bill enacted by the state government – PLEASE ACT NOW.

Suggested letter and email addresses below.

Check here for a quick briefing on what we think should be in the Climate Bill.

Please circulate to your networks.

With thanks
regards, Cam Walker
Friends of the Earth

We need supporters for the idea of a strong Climate Change Bill.

In the UK, Radiohead front man Thom Yorke launched the 'Big Ask' campaign, which called successfully for a UK climate Bill. Jude Law, James Blunt and Razorlight's Johnny Borrell all supported the campaign, as did the Queen!

In Scotland, a range of authors, like Iain Banks, comedians, actors and musicians came forward.

Equally, we need prominant people to step forward and endorse the idea of a strong, whole-of-government Bill here in Victoria. ALP MPs, please speak out !

To The Hon John Brumby, Premier of Victoria
Mr Tony Lupton, MP, Cabinet Secretary
Mr Gavin Jennings, Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Members of Cabinet

By email.

Dear Premier Brumby and members of Cabinet

I welcome the fact that your government has committed to delivering a Climate Change Bill for Victoria.

With the collapse of federal government initiatives on climate change, the need for a strong, whole of government Bill for Victoria has never been more necessary.

Along with a commitment to replace Hazelwood with renewable energy and massively increased support for the roll out of renewable energy here in Victoria, the Climate Bill is of great significance to me as we approach the November election.

I urge you to produce a Bill sufficient to the problems confronting us, which will ensure that Victoria contributes at least a fair share to the global effort which is clearly required, commits us to living within a fair share of global emissions, and which is flexible enough in regards to targets to respond as the climate science continues to evolve.

It must ensure Victoria contributes to the restoration of safe climate by:
1. making deep emissions reductions so Victoria moves rapidly to a low emissions, then zero emissions society; and
2. putting in place mechanisms for large scale drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

You will be aware that Scotland has recently signed into effect a whole of government Climate Change Bill that enshrines a 42% emissions reduction by 2020 target. I believe that a key element in showing serious intent to act on climate change would involve delivery of a strong, whole of government Climate Change Bill for Victoria.

A strong Bill is the best way to set Victoria onto the path for a low emissions future, and green groups will be judging it as such. We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that this Bill is benchmarked on the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 as an absolute minimum. You can find details on the Bill here.

The Victorian Bill should outline provisions that:
· obligate the development of strategies to meet emission reductions and drawdown targets;
· establish a Climate Change Commission that will provide independent advice to Parliament on the development of strategies to meet emissions reductions and drawdown targets, and undertake monitoring, evaluation and reporting on those strategies;
· establish a reference group of climate scientists to provide advice to the Climate Change Commission and Parliament on the existing targets, and to undertake regular reviews of the targets;
· establish an obligation for annual reporting to Parliament on progress to meet emissions reductions and drawdown targets;
· assign responsibility for climate policy to the Premier and a climate committee involving the entire Cabinet to enshrine whole of government responses to climate change;
· ensure that climate change risk assessments based on the latest climate science are carried out regularly and made publicly available;
· ensure the development of strategies to respond to climate change risk assessments; and for progress on those strategies to be reported to Parliament.

The legislation should:

* set emissions reductions targets of at least 50% by 2020, and 95%
by 2050 against 1990 levels.
* commit Victoria to mandated progressive annual reductions to
achieve this. Annual targets will depend on an independent
analysis of where savings can be made. High initial annual cuts
should be included so as to maximise savings from the ‘low hanging
fruit’ of energy efficiency and commitment to increased funding of
public transport, with lower annual reductions in later years.

Strategies for emissions reductions

Emission reduction strategies should include:
· establishment of a price on carbon to make clean renewable energy cost competitive with energy from fossil fuels
· significant investments in renewable energy technology development and deployment
· much higher renewable energy targets
· development of higher energy efficiency targets, especially around existing housing stock
· development of higher standards for vehicle emissions
· bans on further fossil fuel-based electricity generation in Victoria
· EPA regulation of large point sources of greenhouse gas emissions
· a ban on logging of remaining high conservation value native forests

Strategies and accompanying action plans should be developed across each sector/department, and annual reports provided to the Climate Change Commission.

Strategies for drawdown

To include:
· significant reafforestation programs in appropriate areas to create carbon sinks
· changes to land use to increase biosequestration and increase soil carbon

Making the Bill effective and equitable

Ongoing funding for mitigation and adaptation must be given priority in state budgets.
The Bill must be flexible enough to respond to changes in climate science, and must consider the social equity dimensions of climate change, and make provision to minimise the impact on low income and affected communities of all measures proposed in the legislation.

Your government has produced significant work aimed at driving the creation of green jobs. I strongly support this approach to dealing with the climate crisis, and I urge you to build on this by developing the framework that will allow a transformation of the state’s energy, transport and land use. I urge you to take the next step and produce a Safe Climate Bill which is sufficient to task. It can be done - other states and governments are already taking this type of action:

In May 2009, the government of Wales announced that it would work to “radically reduce by 80-90% our use of carbon-based energy, resulting in a similar reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions”. It intends to go to 100% renewables in energy by 2025.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, established a Green Energy and Economy Act in May 2009. The legislation outlines an ambitious and globally significant strategy to improve conservation, increase renewable energy generation, and create green jobs. Polls show 87% support for the Act.

In Scotland, which has a similar population to Victoria, the government has made a commitment to reduce emissions by 42% in its Climate Bill.

Climate science clearly tells us that the longer we delay, the more action on climate change will cost. Paying for the consequences will be more expensive than preventing it. I hope that your government will be the one that takes decisive action at the scale required to transform our economy to the job rich, low carbon future we require.

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