Prime Minister establishes Climate Change Committee


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27 September 2010
Media Release
Joint media release Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has today announced the membership and terms of reference for the new Multi-Party Climate Change Committee to help build consensus on how Australia will tackle Climate Change.

The Multi-Party Climate Change Committee will explore options for the introduction of a carbon price. It will report to Cabinet, through the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, with a range of possible policy positions informed by discussions with independent experts, the public and industry.

The Committee will start from the position that a carbon price is an economic reform that is required to reduce carbon pollution, to encourage investment in low emissions technologies and complement other measures including renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The Committee will also play a role in establishing community consensus for action on climate change.

The Government will be represented on the Committee by the Prime Minister as Chair, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency who will serve as the Deputy Chair of the Committee.

The Government will invite two representatives from the Coalition, two from the Australian Greens, and representation from independent Members of Parliament. Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne will serve as co-Deputy Chair. Mr Tony Windsor has also already indicated his willingness to be a member of the Committee.

Parliamentary members of the Committee will be drawn from those who are committed to tackling climate change and who acknowledge that effectively reducing carbon pollution by 2020 will require a carbon price.

Four independent experts— Professor Ross Garnaut, Professor Will Steffen, Mr Rod Sims and Ms Patricia Faulkner—will support the Committee as expert advisers.

The Committee will be supported by a Secretaries’ Group comprising the Secretaries of Departments involved in implementing climate change policy.

The Government recognises that climate change is a significant challenge for Australia and its economy. We have a choice between paying for our inaction or investing to build a competitive, cleaner energy and more energy efficient economy.

The Government is already investing in new renewable technologies and better and more efficient ways of using our energy resources.

A carbon price will build on these efforts and will create an incentive to reduce emissions, drive investment in renewable and low emissions technologies, create certainty for business investment and begin the adjustment of our economy to a cleaner energy future.

For more information on the Climate Change Committee please see the attached Terms of Reference.

Short biographies on expert advisers

Professor Ross Garnaut

Professor Ross Garnaut (AO) is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and a Professorial Fellow in Economics at the University of Melbourne as well as a Distinguished Professor of the Australian National University. He is an Honorary Professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.

Professor Garnaut is the author of numerous books, monographs and articles in scholarly journals on international economics, public finance and economic development, particularly in relation to East Asia and the Southwest Pacific. Professor Garnaut was the foundation head of the financial end economic policy division of Papua New Guinea's Department of Finance in the mid-1970s, straddling Independence; the principal economic adviser to Australian Prime Minister R.J.L. Hawke from 1983 to 1985; and Australian Ambassador to China (1985 to 1988).

In September 2008, Professor Garnaut presented the Garnaut Climate Change Review to the Australian Prime Minister. This review, commissioned by the Australian government, examines the impact of climate change on the Australian economy and provides potential medium to long-term policies to ameliorate these. His most recent books (The Garnaut Climate Change Review, The Great Crash of 2008 and China’s New Place in a World in Crisis) have recently been translated into Chinese and published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Academic Press. Professor Garnaut is the author of several major reports to Australian Governments in addition to the Garnaut Climate Change Review: Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendancy (1989); Review of the Wool Industry (1993); and Review of Commonwealth-State Funding (2002).

Patricia Faulkner

Patricia Faulkner has had an extensive career covering both the public and private sectors. She is currently the chair of the Australian Social Inclusion Board and the Chair of Jesuit Social Services. Jesuit Social Services is a small welfare based organisation that looks after people at the margins of society. She is also a Chair and Member of a range of health care and government advisory services boards, including the Federal Government Health and Hospitals Infrastructure Fund; and, the Council of Australian Governments Reform Council. She has spent 10 of the last 20 years as a partner with KPMG leading both their health and social policy sectors.

Patricia will provide advice on the impacts of climate change policies on the more disadvantaged people in our community. She was awarded an Order of Australia in June 2008 for her services to the field of Health and Social Policy; and a Centenary Medal in 2002 for services to Public Administration.

Professor Will Steffen

Professor Will Steffen is Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, and is also Science Adviser to the federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. From 1998 to mid-2004, he served as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, based in Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests span a broad range within the fields of climate change and Earth System science, with an emphasis on incorporation of human processes in Earth System modelling and analysis; and on sustainability, climate change and the Earth System.

Rod Sims

Rod Sims is a Director of Port Jackson Partners Limited (PJPL), Chairman of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal in NSW, and Chairman of InfraCo Asia Development Limited which is based in Singapore. He is also a Commissioner with the National Competition Council, and a Director of Ingeus Limited. His previous roles include Principal Economic Adviser to Australia’s Prime Minister from 1988-90, Deputy Secretary responsible for all domestic policy in the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1990-93, and Chairman of the Rail Infrastructure Corporation and State Rail Authority in NSW from 1996-2003. He was also a member of the 2002 COAG Energy Market Review.

With PJPL Rod has for over 16 years advised leading Australian companies on issues to do with corporate strategy and governance. Rod has in recent years also advised the Business Council of Australia (BCA) on appropriate policies to deal with the greenhouse challenge and infrastructure policy. In relation to the former he has advised the Business Council of Australia on Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) design and on the implications for specific companies of particular ETS design issues.

Terms of Reference

  1. The Multi-Party Climate Change Committee (‘the Committee’) is established to:
    1.1. consult, negotiate, and report to the Cabinet, through the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, on agreed options for the implementation of a carbon price in Australia; and
    1.2. provide advice on, and participate in, building community consensus for action on climate change.
  2. The Committee decisions will be reached by consensus or, if there are differences that remain after good faith discussions, these will be presented to the Cabinet, but with every effort made to produce workable options.
  3. The Committee is established on the basis that a carbon price is an economic reform that is required to reduce carbon pollution, to encourage investment in low emissions technologies and complement other measures including renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  4. The Committee will consider mechanisms for introducing a carbon price (including a broad-based emissions trading scheme, a broad-based carbon levy, a hybrid of both, and economy-wide and sector-based approaches) and will consider issues such as coverage, international linking, implementation issues, assistance measures for households and businesses (including emissions-intensive trade-exposed businesses) and review provisions.
  5. From time to time the Committee, by agreement, may discuss other aspects of climate change policy that would benefit from multi-party consideration and discussion. However, the Committee's deliberations will be broadly limited to the issue of a carbon price.
  6. The Committee will be informed by, and responsible for, measures including but not limited to:
    6.1. inviting Professor Ross Garnaut to update the Garnaut Climate Change Review and to provide advice on pricing carbon;
    6.2. consider the findings of an expert body, which will be tasked with calculating the carbon price equivalent of measures taken by other countries;
    6.3. inviting experts to conduct a public forum in Parliament House on the economic, environmental and social impacts of climate change;
    6.4. receiving up-to-date date assessments of the science (from the Climate Change Commission, Australian Academy of Science, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, and eminent scientists);
    6.5. considering whether a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change should be established and, if so, its objectives, format and timeframes; and
    6.6. considering the objectives, functions, form and membership of the Climate Change Commission.
  7. The Committee will establish a work program that addresses these terms of reference.
  8. The Committee will ensure its deliberations and papers remain confidential to the Committee and the Cabinet until a final position is agreed or all parties to the Committee agree otherwise. At its initial meeting the Committee will determine the mechanism by which it will provide updates of its work.
    8.1. As part of building community consensus around the need for action on climate change and a carbon price, the Committee may choose to make some of its materials available to the public.
    8.1.1. Committee members may not act unilaterally in this regard.
    8.1.2. Committee members will be mindful of the need to balance public participation against effective and genuine negotiation.
  9. The Committee will meet regularly, usually monthly, until the end of 2011, at which time the ongoing need for the Committee will be considered.
  10. In making its recommendations, the Committee shall have regard to:
    10.1. The Copenhagen Accord;
    10.2. Australia’s national economic, social and environmental interests;
    10.3. the views and ideas of the Australian people as determined through consultation and public forums;
    10.4. the views and ideas of experts, and key stakeholders;
    10.5. international trends, including action taken by other countries;
    10.6. Commonwealth, state and territory climate change policies; and
    10.7. the impacts of, and interactions between, proposed carbon price mechanisms and complementary measures.
  11. The Committee will be supported by:
    11.1. Up to four permanent expert advisers appointed by the Government to regularly advise the Committee on their areas of expertise.
    11.2. a Secretaries’ Group, comprising Secretaries of the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury, Finance and Deregulation, Resources, Energy and Tourism, Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (chair), Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Infrastructure and Transport, Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, with others participating as required;
    11.3. the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (in relation to most policy matters), and the Treasury (in relation to modelling, macroeconomic impacts, budgetary impacts and any changes to the tax and transfer systems to compensate certain households for price impacts of any scheme).
  12. The Committee would generally meet in the Cabinet room. The Cabinet Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will be responsible for minute-taking. 
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