IT is time for the federal government to declare a climate emergency, Indi MP Helen Haines says.
The Independent is joining other cross benchers in backing a motion calling on the Lower House to declare an environment and climate emergency and the "government to take urgent action consistent with the internationally accepted science".
"A climate emergency is a way to take this issue head-on, it's saying we can't fluff around at the edges," Dr Haines said.
"We need to address the systemic problem that is causing drought, that is causing fires and that is causing floods and that is rising temperatures."
But Environment Minister and Farrer MP Sussan Ley said the government was "taking strong and sensible action in reducing our carbon emissions".
"Declaring an emergency doesn't produce water or make it rain tomorrow, and no amount of opportunistic politics from the independents or Greens helps anyone," Ms Ley said.
"In drought, in a flood, during bushfires or any emergency, people want their government to help with practical assistance measures where possible, and that's exactly what we are doing."
Dr Haines rejected Ms Ley's view, saying she could not understand what she meant by saying the motion was opportunistic.
She characterised the government's approach as "putting in small solutions one project at a time" and "not addressing the overarching global issue we facing".
Dr Haines noted Britain, France and Canada had made declarations.
She expects the motion to go to parliament in October.
In Parliament on Wednesday, Dr Haines called on the government "to develop a consistent energy policy" in light of climate change.
She wants it to foster investment, saying "North East Victoria has 151 sites that could host pumped hydro storage to provide despatchable power to the grid".
"There is 6500 gigawatt hours of storage potential in our mountain lakes, almost 20 times the capacity of Snowy 2.0," Dr Haines said.