Submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19

Australian lives and livelihoods have been hit hard by the pandemic. To help coordinate a response and reduce the economic impacts of the pandemic, the Federal Government established the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (the Commission).  Climate change is a looming crisis. Our submission reflects the need to do everything in our power to promote a recovery aligned with climate action.

 

Why did the Arid Lands Environment Centre make a submission?

 

  • Our recovery is a massive opportunity for action on climate change

The massive economic stimulus is an ideal opportunity to make headway on the society-wide transition we need to reduce our emissions and keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This means putting decarbonisation at the heart of our strategy, moving away from fossil fuel dependency and toward a regenerative and renewable economy. Stimulus spending should not put us at increased risk of the impacts of climate change. 

  • A green recovery makes economic sense 

Economic growth and environmental protection are not at odds with each other. Around the world, the number of coalitions calling for a recovery strategy that is grounded in bold climate action is growing louder, broader and is armed with compelling evidence.  They are joined by mainstream businesses, investors, banks and unions who understand the future risks of not taking action on climate. An Oxford study found green projects create more jobs and perform better economically than traditional stimulus. 

  • This gas-stacked group needs greater accountability and transparency 

The lack of transparency about its governance and processes has raised serious questions about the Commission – its appointees, purpose and ties to the fossil fuel industry.  The Commission is headed up by Neville Power, a mining company executive hand-picked by the prime minister. Power was previously the CEO of Fortescue Metals Group and is currently Deputy Chairman of Strike Energy Ltd. The Commission is chaired by former Dow Chemicals boss Andrew Liveris. There is a clear bias toward a gas-fired recovery strategy which fails to consider the abundance of renewable resources available in Australia.  

 

Our major recommendations

Investment in a climate and nature positive recovery will deliver positive benefits to the community and the economy. We recommend the Government invest in these key areas:

  • Clean physical infrastructure investment;
  • Building efficiency retrofits;
  • Investment in education and training to address immediate unemployment from COVID-19 and structural unemployment from decarbonisation;
  • Natural capital investment for ecosystem resilience and regeneration; and 
  • Clean research and development investment