31 July 2023

Pocock to introduce bill on climate change harm

| Chris Johnson
Join the conversation
David Pocock

Senator David Pocock is set to introduce his first private member’s bill to the Senate. Photo: Lincoln Magee.

David Pocock wants to force politicians to factor in the harm climate change might have on future generations when considering fossil fuel projects.

The ACT independent senator will introduce his first private member’s bill on Tuesday (1 August), which seeks to legislate a positive duty of care requirement in the approval process for new developments.

Senator Pocock will introduce the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Equity) Bill 2023, creating a requirement for politicians and policymakers to consider the impact of climate harm on young people.

This follows Senator Pocock’s work on a draft bill with student and climate activist Anjali Sharma, the lead litigant in the 2020 Federal Court class action case against then-Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley. Ms Sharma and seven others fought to stop Ms Ley from approving a proposal to expand the Vickery coalmine in NSW, arguing the minister had a duty of care to protect young people from climate change.

Senator Pocock said the amendment would plug a “dangerous gap” in the legislative framework exposed by the case, which highlighted the need to embed in legislation the principle that governments should care about the health and wellbeing of the younger generation.

“It’s our duty as politicians and policymakers to make sure that the climate young people inherit is one they can live and thrive in,” Senator Pocock said.

“We should be thinking about young people when we make decisions. I want to be part of a parliament, and more importantly a country, that takes this responsibility seriously.

“Politicians and policymakers should have a duty of care to protect the health and wellbeing of young people and future generations.”

READ ALSO Government calls for update to Australia’s critical minerals list

The bill seeks to add two conditions to decisions made under six existing pieces of legislation.

Those pieces of legislation, including the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), relate to decisions reached in the financing and development of projects that may significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Senator Pocock said the impacts of climate change were “fast worsening” and the cost of inaction today would be paid by future generations, and that price will be high.

“A growing number of young Australians and their families are demanding to have their voices heard and action taken to protect their future,” he said.

“Look at any news website or television report and the deadly impacts of climate change on communities and on nature are clear to see.

“The focus on the short term – polls, the media cycle, the next election – needs to end.

“We need to be looking at how our decisions impact young people and future generations.

“We need a legislative tool that can be used in government decision-making, and this bill will deliver that.

“I look forward to my parliamentary colleagues giving serious consideration to this legislation and hopefully supporting it and the wellbeing of young people.”

READ ALSO Australia joining the climate club hasn’t calmed my nerves

Ms Sharma said the bill was born out of years of advocacy by young people leading the charge for greater climate action.

“As a young person, I’m increasingly scared about my future,” she said. “The past few years have seen climate disasters and temperatures that have broken records.

“The government can either act in accordance with its duty to young people and deliver us a safe and liveable future, or set us on a path to climate catastrophe.”

The amendment bill would apply to decisions made under the EPBC Act, the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Act 1991, the Infrastructure Australia Act 2008, the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation Act 2023, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016, and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

It imposes a statutory duty on decision-makers under those acts:

  • To consider the likely impact of decisions that could harm the climate on the health and wellbeing of current and future children as the paramount consideration; and
  • Not to make a decision that could harm the climate if the decision poses a material risk of harm to the health and wellbeing of current and future children in Australia.

The bill is not retrospective. Senator Pocock will ask that his bill be referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry, reporting back early in 2024.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Unless you have qualifications in the field from a reputable university your nothing but a dribbling amateur.

Incidental Tourist10:57 pm 01 Aug 23

This proposal is all about stance and noting of substance.

HiddenDragon7:50 pm 01 Aug 23

Great idea – let’s close down all the industries which produce the surplus wealth that allows us to pay insane amounts of money to people who are very good at running around an oval with an inflated piece of leather and to pay very nice incomes to people doing made up b/s jobs like environmental law.

What is going to harm young people? Having a 1 deg rise in average temp or having absolutely no economy and no ability to think critically?

Is the rest of the worlds pollution factored in as well or are we wishing that pollution away as as move to import more from the biggest polluters. In the last 8 years China has produced more co2 emissions than the UK since the indrustial revolution.

Dr. John F. Clauser, is a recipient of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics along with two others. According to Dr. Clauser, “The popular narrative about climate change reflects a dangerous corruption of science that threatens the world’s economy and the well-being of billions of people. Misguided climate science has metastasized into massive shock-journalistic pseudoscience. In turn, the pseudoscience has become a scapegoat for a wide variety of other unrelated ills. It has been promoted and extended by similarly misguided business marketing agents, politicians, journalists, government agencies, and environmentalists. In my opinion, there is no real climate crisis. There is, however, a very real problem with providing a decent standard of living to the world’s large population and an associated energy crisis. The latter is being unnecessarily exacerbated by what, in my opinion, is incorrect climate science.” Someone tell David.

Apparently Pocock thinks that sitting in the QANTAS Chairman’s lounge waiting for a business class flight does not contribute to Climate Change. I’m alright Jack!

Sad little thick as a brick Pocock. He reminds me of Peter Garret, he was about as clever and just as harmful.

Great. I can’t wait for the ex footballer to fix climate change. Amazing

Rob McGuigan2:00 pm 31 Jul 23

I have a question here Moderator and it’s also in the form of a complaint. Why the unbalanced and biased journalism regarding David Pocock? There are many articles listed on this site regarding this Socialist (supposedly independent) Senator and absolutely none challenging his assertions of climate fact that are for the most part extreme hyperbole?

I wouldn’t buy a used car from Pocock – EV or ICE.

Rob McGuigan1:44 pm 31 Jul 23

Absolutely correct Stephen. He’s a joke. Come on Albo call your DD and idiots like him will hopefully get booted along with the current government.

A DD would be an early Christmas present. Bring it on!

Rob McGuigan1:37 pm 31 Jul 23

David Pocock the most Socialist out of touch Federal Politician in the current Government of out of touch ALP politicians and their fellow travellers of which Pocock is definitely a star member. He is willing and in fact demands Australians sacrifice standards of living, jobs, manufacturing and sovereign capability for Socialist/Marxist ideology. Your an absolute Socialist gem David and a facilitator and perpetrator of one of the greatest hoaxs on humanity in humanities history.

Pocock should be painting those white lines on the footy ovals. Might suit him better as he is no politician.

Peter Graves6:46 pm 31 Jul 23

Please define your very repetitive use of “socialist” – especially as your preferred term of abuse.

Stephen Saunders12:28 pm 31 Jul 23

Here’s local MHR Andrew Leigh, aligning with (Friday) Fin Rev, against voters. Australia must have unlimited population growth – anything else is “not an option”.

And here’s local Senator David Pocock, noodling about his UN “climate amendment”. A ChatBot or AI would be more use, in its receptiveness to average voters.

Rob McGuigan1:42 pm 31 Jul 23

Absolutely correct Stephen. He’s a joke. Come on Albo call your DD and idiots like him will hopefully get booted along with the current government.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.