We respectfully call upon Federal, State/Territory and local Governments of Australia to ensure any fiscal stimulus packages associated with COVID-19 directly tackle climate change at the same time.
Australia faces a unique challenge and opportunity as it seeks to rebuild its economy and communities after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is right that governments focus should be on the pandemic right now, particularly the short term health and economic impacts. Peoples' lives and livelihoods are still at risk and so this should be the number one priority.
However, the climate change crisis has not gone away. It is impacting Australians here and now and will continue to as impacts worsen. So many Australians are still recovering from an unprecedented bushfire season only a few months ago.
In coming months it is likely that Federal and State Governments will need to inject even more unprecedented amounts of public money into the economy to stimulate jobs and avoid long term depressions. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to align this spending with tackling climate change. We can not waste this moment to tackle two overwhelming national challenges at once.
Luckily, Australia is well positioned to implement many of the solutions to climate change and at the same time boost our economy, create jobs, improve our health and wellbeing and our environment. Many of these will need to be able to be rolled out quickly and others may require bringing forward investments that are still years away.
We call upon the Federal and State Governments of Australia to ensure that any spending seeks to advance climate action, by reducing emissions and increasing our resilience to climate change impacts.
The types of projects and solutions that could be included are (but not limited to):
· Home and commercial energy efficiency programs
· Subsidies for new energy technologies such as batteries coordinated in virtual power plants
· Policies to stimulate electric vehicle uptake and roll out of national EV charging infrastructure
· Environmental programs to repair our landscapes, increase carbon sequestration and improve biodiversity and water
· Investment in green infrastructure such as street trees, parks and gardens to improve liveability of our cities and towns
· Transmission grid upgrades to support higher levels of renewable energy
· Investment in climate resilient agriculture and low emissions agricultural technologies
· Unprecedented investments in public transport infrastructure including cycling and walking networks
· Investment in adaptation programs such as fire management and flooding infrastructure
· Investment in improving waste management and driving the circular economy
· Activate Australia's enormous manufacturing opportunities from new energy technology supply chains
Moreover, any government support or bailouts of corporations needs to have green strings attached, so that it encourages the private sector to also invest in climate solutions and reduce climate risks.
The types of projects that should not be included in any fiscal stimulus package are ones which significantly increase Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, weaken our resilience to future climate change events and make future attempts to tackle climate change more difficult.
This is a historic opportunity for Australia to build back better from the wide ranging impacts of the corona virus and tackle climate change. Let's invest in future generations and not waste this moment. We call upon Federal, State/Territory and local Governments to use our money to create a more resilient, healthier, happier and sustainable Australia.