Last Wednesday, the Australian government introduced two Bills to Parliament concerning Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target that translate the Paris Agreement into Commonwealth law.
In a short 12 page document, the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 have both been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications for inquiry and report by 31 August 2022.
Climate Change Bill
The Climate Change Bill legislates Australia’s 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and requires the responsible Minister to prepare annual an climate change statement in relation to the targets. It also empowers the Climate Change Authority to provide advice to the Minister in relation to future targets.
Its outline, in simplified form, is:
- Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets;
- Minister must prepare an annual climate change statement;
- Climate Change Authority is to give the Minister advice relating to preparation of the annual climate change statement;
- Climate Change Authority is to advise the Minister on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets to be included in a new or adjusted nationally determined contribution;
- Periodic reviews of the Act’s operation.
“Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets” is defined under the Bill as:
- reducing Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions to 43% below 2005 levels by 2030, to be:
- implemented as a point target; and
- implemented as an emissions budget covering the period 2021-2030;
- reducing Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
“Australia’s nationally determined contributions” is defined under the Bill as ‘Australia’s current national determined contribution (NDC) communicated in accordance with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement‘, or the adjusted NDC ‘in force from time to time‘. Article 3 of the Paris Agreement indicates that ‘nationally determined contributions‘ are ‘contributions to the global response to climate change‘.
Australia’s current NDC was lodged with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat in accordance with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement on 16 June 2022 and committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The definition of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets prohibits any reduction in Australia’s NDC. and NDC change must always represent a progression ‘beyond’ and an enhancement of Australia’s ‘level of ambition’.
The terms ‘beyond’ and ‘ambition’ are not defined in the Bill but are drawn from the text of Article 4 of the Paris Agreement and must be interpreted in a manner consistent with that Agreement and Australia’s NDC.
Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022
This Bill also embeds Australia’s 2030 and 2050 targets in the objectives and functions of relevant Commonwealth agencies.
The Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 incorporates a Schedule of amendments to the Climate Change Act, which insert statutory reference to the Paris Agreement and Australia’s emissions reduction targets, increase the scope of certain objectives under these Acts, being to achieve Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, and other constitutional provisions.
These amendments also have regard to the constitutional limitations of the Act, including in respect of the function of constitutional corporations and in respect of the supplies of product, offers to supply product and uses of product.
29 July 2022
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 Climate Change Bill 2022, s3.
 Ibid, s4.
 Ibid, s10(1).
 Ibid, s5.
 Department of Industry, Science and Resources, ‘Australia submits new emissions target to UNFCCC’ (16 June 2022) <https://www.industry.gov.au/news/australia-submits-new-emissions-target-to-unfccc> (accessed 29 July 2022).
 Climate Change Bill 2022, s10(5)-(6).
 Ibid, s10(2).
 Australian Renewal Energy Agency Act 2011 (Cth); Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 (Cth); Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Act 1991 (Cth); Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Act 2012 (Cth), s7A.