Zali Steggall

Independent member of parliament Zali Steggall on Friday joined the final session of the week-long Living Future Institute Australia’s (LFIA) symposium at Botanic House in the beautiful surrounds of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens with a keynote address that ticked a lot of boxes for the built environment.

She elaborated on the five-step plan she launched last month to reduce emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2030 on the way to net zero by 2050. 

The former Olympian and barrister’s plan, “Five Steps to Net Zero: how Australia can accelerate our path to net zero and prosper in the new economy” is to pass the “Climate Change Bills” to put net zero by 2050 into law, with legislated targets, emissions budgets, sector-specific planning and broad consultation. 

The roadmap calls for Australia to commit to 80 per cent renewable energy by 2030 with no new coal or gas developments, a minimum of 76 per cent EVs in new vehicle sales by 2030, halve industry emissions, and reforest Australia. 

On the buildings front, the plan to get there includes reforming the National Building Standards by introducing requirements to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions intensity of buildings. 

Industry could halve emissions with incentives for the production of green steel, green aluminium and green hydrogen. Ms Steggall advocates a transition fund to support communities affected by decarbonisation. To get to net zero, Australia will need to reduce industry emissions by 49 per cent by 2030.

On electric vehicles she wants to target a minimum of 76 per cent EVs in new vehicle sales by 2030 through tax incentives, investment in fast-charging stations and smart chargers in homes, and improved emissions and fuel standards. EVs are currently less than 1 per cent of new car sales in Australia. 

Part of the plan is to propose to commit to to 80 per cent renewable energy by 2030, stop federal subsidies for coal and gas and close coal-fired power plants, fund renewable Energy Zones (REZ’s), and support community energy and storage projects and ownership models to allow the community to participate in the transition. 

McKinsey & Co says that exporting hydrogen, green steel and ammonia to overseas markets could add $75 billion to the Australian economy each year to 2035 as well as an additional 130,000 direct jobs, Ms Steggall noted.

And then there is the data from Deloitte Access Economics that Australia could add more than 250,000 jobs and $680 billion to the Australian economy by pursuing policies that get us to net zero. 

Ms Steggall’s plan is based on similar climate change legislation in New Zealand and the UK, the latter of which has reduced emissions by 29 per cent since passing its 2008 Climate Change Act. 

“Everyone is calling for a roadmap, because you can’t plan for the future without knowing exactly how you’re going to get there,” Ms Steggall said. 

Australia is the highest carbon dioxide emitting country per capita in the OECD, and 11th in the world. According to the most recently available data from Our World in Data, each person in Australia emits 15.4 tonnes of CO2 annually, three times higher than the international average of 4.72 annual tonnes per capita.

“The policy framework in the legislation provides an architecture which will be critical to mapping out a planned and predictable approach to emissions reduction across the economy as we work towards the net-zero target in 2050,” The Business Council of Australia said in its submission to the legislation. 

Ms Steggall Climate Change Bills were backed by almost 100,000 signatories, 110 companies and peak bodies and received thousands of supportive submissions from organisations and individuals.

Ms Steggall said that while leadership from the private sector is growing, she called the lack of leadership from government a “policy vacuum”. “We need the government to get on with it” and enforce climate change legislation, she said. 

“I’m just stunned by Australia’s climate policy: the lack of pathway, the lack of roadmap. This doesn’t have to be so hard. It really doesn’t have to be so hard, other countries have done it quite sensibly.” 

The Greens have a higher emissions target (of 75 per cent), with Labor committing to 43 per cent, and the Coalition to 26 to 28 per cent.

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  1. After reading several articles about and from Zali I am now part-way through the Cimate Change RoadMap she wants to be written.
    After COP26 and similar Bla, Bla, Bla sceptism, I wrote a Roadmap for Phasing out the Coal Fired Power Plants by 2035. Just finished one for Zero Food Waste for Supermarket Chains and LGAs
    I have spent over 50 years in this business making and now phasing out Fossil Fuel oil, chemical and plastics products.
    I will have to get this out to Zali in a few days so it can be edited and delivered as her Plan.

  2. Sounds such a great plan Zali.
    How can we fast track a better emissions plan?
    Big government just close their minds because big business just do not get it and pretend to do their bit. It’s so frustrating!