The government is undertaking a review of one of our central pieces of environmental law, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act. They have a facility for quick comments of up to 300 words, as well as traditional submission (thanks to the Australian Conservation Foundation for the link). Here’s my 300 words
The catastrophes that have afflicted Australia and the rest of the world over the last year, including coral bleaching, unprecedented wildfires and the coronavirus pandemic point up the need for a radical reconsideration of existing approaches to environmental protection.
Far from achieving a sustainable balance between economic, social and environmental values, recent Australian policy has focused on protecting sectional interests and amplifying second-order issues such as the effect of environmental policy on energy costs.
The disasters of the past year show that the risks of widespread species extinction are far greater than has previously been assumed. As well as reflecting specific risks associated with exploitation of wild animal species for food and other uses, the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically illustrated the folly of the presumption that, since previous potential disasters have not materialised or have been successfully, managed, the threat of environmental catastrophe can safely be ignored or deferred for the future.
In terms of the EPBC act, the key implications are:
- a much stronger weight on preventing further loss of biodiversity
- consideration of all effects of proposed developments, notably including Scope 3 emissions of coal, oil and gas projects