Environmental law after a year of catastrophe

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

5 thoughts on “Environmental law after a year of catastrophe

  1. Thanks John

    The Environmental Defenders Office has also published a submission guide and a series of presentations about the EPBC Act review. The EDO information page on the review (which includes links to the presentations) is here: https:// http://www.edo. org.au/the-epbc-act-review-2020
    The EDO’s submission guide can be found here: https ://www .edo.org.au/publication/guide-for-submissions-to-epbc-review/

  2. Oops – that wasn’t meant to be an actual link. Restating the first link without the typo: https: //www.edo. org.au/the-epbc-act-review-2020/

  3. In addition, I think that COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated;

    1 the importance of having a robust and adequate public health system and

    2 the health of the environment is also a public health issue.

  4. akarog, Amen to that. (An agnostic style amen.)

    Let us hope that the final burials we make due to this crisis are those of zombie economic ideas in general, zombie neoloiberal ideas in particular and the zombie social ideas of right wing conservatism.

    We need to “mercy” these ideas as in the idea of a “mercy killing” from “Zombie Nation”. After all, you can’t kill a zombie. It’s already dead. You have to “mercy” it. Although as the ZN series eventually discloses, zombies are not exactly dead and still have rudimentary thoughts. But no more plot spoilers! 🙂

    Of course ZN has some dreadfully bad and tedious episodes. All long running shows do. But for low culture (in many ways) it is remarkably clever, humorous (black comedy) and surreal in its best episodes. It’s not afraid of the worst bad taste “gore” jokes possible either.

    Some of the one-liners are great like, “Oh, I’ve seen nearly everything; Amish zombies and now Mormon zombies! What next?”

    It’s not long before zombie camels and zombie wise-men turn up at a parody of the nativity. Later, a giant cheese wheel left over from a cheese festival is set rolling. It clears the main street of a small mid-western USA town of zombies and then rolls all the way to the Mississippi with zombies stuck around its periphery. “All the way to the Mississippi” must be some kind of saying in the US from the way the parody visually harps on the cheese wheel.

  5. I really don’t think we can ever expect anything worthwhile from an LNP government. If we keep electing them we are certainly doomed. If we toss them out we might stand half a chance.

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