It’s now or never

28 Apr 2022

A message from the CEO Davina Rooney.

It's now or never. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change couldn’t be clearer. Earlier this month, the IPCC said we have just three years left to address rising emissions, which must peak by 2025 at the latest if we are to have any chance of limiting warming to around 1.5°C.

We have sufficient global capital and liquidity, the IPCC says. What we need is “clear signalling from governments” and stronger policy alignment.

This is why, as the federal election draws near, the first of our 12 recommendations to the next government is a comprehensive national plan that sets the built environment on a net zero trajectory. We are also calling for better housing for all Australians, starting with a carbon-ready National Construction Code.

But nation-changing policy also happens at the state level. And it is state-level policy that currently has everyone talking.

This month the NSW Government decided to scrap the Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy, or SEPP, citing housing affordability.

In contrast, last week the Climate Council released Tents to Castles: Building energy efficient, cost saving Aussie homes. This report finds living in a 7-Star, all-electric house in any capital city in Australia will save occupants an average of $450 each year on their heating and cooling costs, compared to the current building standard of 6-Stars.

Climate Council’s modelling shows a 7-Star all-electric home also reduces emissions by around 25% on the current minimum standard. How much extra will homeowners need to spend upfront? Just $2,300 – and that difference is repaid in less than six years.

The NSW Government has said it will proceed with upgrades to its sustainability assessment tool, BASIX, to match 7 Star NatHERS – a move we welcome.

NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has also flagged “other initiatives” will be progressed. We will continue to advocate that those “other initiatives” include net zero buildings, measures to address embodied carbon and a best practice guide to liveable and resilient communities.

But we are running out of time and Australians know this. Two thirds of us now consider the threat of natural disasters when deciding where to live, according to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

We know ‘why’ we must act. The ‘how’ is also clear. Tomorrow, as just one example, we officially launch Green Star Homes and a rating tool to guide the development of climate positive, healthy and resilient homes.

What we need is the ‘when’ – and that requires consistent and forward-looking policy. As former planning minister Rob Stokes said at TRANSFORM in March, climate change won’t wait for an economically convenient time. If we don’t act now, then when will we?