Carbon reduction and net zero
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The Federal Government has introduced two new bills aimed at reducing the country’s emissions.  

The Net Zero Economy Authority Bill 2024 (NZEA) will establish a new independent statutory authority to promote orderly and positive economic transformation as the world decarbonises. 

The Net Zero Economy Authority (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2024 enables the transition of the current interim Net Zero Economy Agency within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to a standalone statutory authority. 

The Federal Government said that the net zero transformation will be one of the most significant economic shifts since the Industrial Revolution, with the scale and significance of global efforts to reduce emissions set to transform industries and economies.  

In Australia, this transformation is expected to lead to major economic and workforce change, particularly in industrial regions. 

The Authority is expected to focus on supporting workers, communities, regions and industry to realise and share in the benefits of the net zero economy.   

The NZEA Bill sets out the detailed functions, powers and governance arrangements for the Authority. The Authority will:   

  • Coordinate net zero efforts across government and key stakeholders and promote consistency in the design and implementation of Australian Government policies and programs  
  • Facilitate public and private sector participation and investment in greenhouse gas emissions reduction and net zero transformation initiatives across Australia 
  • Support workers in emissions-intensive industries who are affected by the net zero transition to access new employment or acquire skills to improve their employment prospects 
  • The Bill will also establish The Energy Industry Jobs Plan. Administered by the Authority, the Plan will support employees impacted by the closure of some coal-fired and gas-fired power stations 
  • Support First Nations to participate in, and benefit from, the net zero transition 
  • Build community understanding, confidence and engagement with the net zero transformation 

The Authority will be governed by an independent Board consisting of a Chair and up to eight other members, appointed by the responsible minister. Board composition must address the following requirements: 

  • Two members must have experience in the trade union movement 
  • Two members must have experience in business, industry, finance or investment 
  • Other members must have experience in the fields above and/or industrial relations or labour market adjustment, economics, decarbonisation pathways, technologies or policy, climate change policy, energy markets, regional development, First Nations engagement, advocacy or community leadership, public or corporate governance and/or law 

A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will be responsible for day-to-day operations. The CEO will be appointed by the responsible minister. 

The Federal Government said that the arrangements were developed in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, including state governments, local governments, First Nations people, non-government organisations, industry, employers and unions, including in emissions-intensive regions. 

Image credit: Ragil HTP/Shutterstock.com. 

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