Queensland needs comprehensive action on climate change

Queensland Law Society recognises that mitigation of human-induced climate change and adaptation to the changing climate are amongst the greatest challenges facing Queenslanders and must be given proper weight by the political parties in the lead-up to the 2020 state election.

Queensland is the largest contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions,1 which in turn are amongst the highest in the world per capita and amongst the highest in the OECD per unit of GDP.2 While emissions have reduced since peaking in 2005, there has been no sustained downward trend in net emissions in recent years.

In accordance with the QLS commitment to evidence-based policy, the Call to Parties statement for the 2020 state election seeks commitment to an effective, evidence-based legislative framework to respond to climate change. Such a framework must include clear pathways, targets and reporting that will reduce Queensland’s contribution to climate change and be clear and consistent in accordance with principles of good law.

Crucially, the framework must have regard to and incorporate ongoing meaningful consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the impacts of climate change on the lands that Indigenous Australians have cared for and managed for over 60,000 years. It must also prioritise support for those whose economic needs are tied to carbon-intensive industries as those industries pivot or decline and properly support the legal assistance sector to respond to the ongoing increased legal need created by the impacts of climate change.3

The Call to Parties consultation draft also seeks a review of Queensland’s laws relating to disaster response in light of the increased incidence of natural disasters as the climate continues to change.

Members wishing to read more about QLS’s work in relation to climate change can refer to the QLS submission to the Law Council of Australia regarding development of a Law Council policy position on climate change, which can be found here.


Members are invited to review the QLS Call to Parties statement here. The Queensland state election is due to be held on 31 October.

1 According to the most recent State Greenhouse Gas Inventory (2018), Queensland emitted 32% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas inventory.
2 Australia has the second highest intensity of greenhouse gas emissions in the OECD per unit of GDP and the highest intensity per capita according to 2017 data published by the OECD. Australia ranks around 15th for total emissions according to 2017 data published by the International Energy Agency.
3 For discussion of legal needs created by climate change see Taylor, M, ‘Why we must be climate conscious: How legal needs are changing’, Proctor, December 2019, page 40.

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