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Green tape and environmental activism: an analysis of Labor's climate legislation

Paris Agreement Climate change mitigation Carbon emissions Emissions reduction Legislation Australia

The stated purpose of the Climate Change Bill 2022 is to set out Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, to provide for annual climate change statements, to confer advisory functions on the Climate Change Authority, and for related purposes. Rather than just stating the greenhouse gas emissions target, the legislation codifies the instrument in which the executive sets the target, and explicitly confers on the executive government an extraordinary discretion to unilaterally change the law.

This discretion is an explicit violation of the separation of powers. In the Australian parliamentary tradition, the legislative branch of government is vested with the power to change the content of statutory law. The executive undoubtedly has the right to undertake executive actions, such as making decisions about how it engages with international agreements and treaties, but it is firmly the place of the parliament to determine over time how such agreements are incorporated into domestic legislation.

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