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Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Climate Change Trigger) Bill 2005

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2004-2005

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Climate Change Trigger) Bill 2005

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of

Mr Anthony Albanese MP)



Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Climate Change Trigger) Bill 2005

OUTLINE

1. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have significantly contributed to a rise in global average temperatures of 0.6 degrees over the past century.  The international consensus is that this trend will lead to a rise of global temperature of between 2 and 6 degrees over the next century.  This would be devastating for much of the world.

 

2. Climate change is the most significant environmental challenge facing the global community and threatens Australia’s way of life.

 

3. A report prepared for the Australian Government in March 2005 by the Allen Consulting Group, Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability , suggests Australia faces the following risks from climate change:

 

·     An increase in annual national average temperatures of between 0.4 and 2 degrees by 2030 and of between 1 and 6 degrees by 2070 - with significantly larger changes in some regions by each date;

·     More heatwaves and fewer frosts;

·     More frequent El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events - resulting in a more pronounced cycle of prolonged drought and heavy rains;

·     Reductions in average rainfall and run-off in Southern and much of Eastern Australia with rainfall increases across much of the Tropical North - as much as a further 20 per cent reduction in rainfall in Southwest Australia, and up to a 20 per cent reduction in run-off in the Murray Darling Basin by 2030;

·     More severe wind speeds in cyclones, associated with storm surges being progressively amplified by rising sea levels;

·     An increase in severe weather events, such as storms and bushfires; and

·     A change in ocean currents, affecting our coastal waters, towards 2070.

 

4. To address climate change, the Australian Government should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, take a lead role in negotiations beyond the Kyoto period of 2012, and act domestically to cut its own greenhouse pollution.  According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, Australia is on track to increase its greenhouse emissions by 23% by 2020.

 

5. The establishment of a climate change trigger in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 is an important mechanism for cutting Australia’s greenhouse pollution.

 

6. The Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Climate Change Trigger) Bill 2005 (the Bill) seeks to amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 to create a new matter of national environmental significance under the Act—a climate change trigger. This will enable major new projects to be assessed for their climate change impact as part of any environmental assessment process, and will ensure that new developments represent best practice.

7. The matter of national environmental significance will apply to the establishment of any industrial plant or other facility which emits, or is likely to emit, more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent per year; or any other action, series of actions, or policies which will lead, or are likely to lead, directly or indirectly to the emission of more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

8. The Bill also provides for civil penalties for any climate change action that knowingly, intentionally or recklessly causes a significant impact on the environment.

9. The EPBC Act provides a framework for environment protection for any actions that are likely to have an impact on matters of national environmental significance.  Seven matters of national environmental significance—World Heritage properties, National Heritage places, Ramsar wetlands of international importance, nationally threatened species and ecological communities, migratory species, nuclear actions (including uranium mining) and the Commonwealth marine environment—are currently provided protection under the EPBC Act.

10. The Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Climate Change Trigger) Bill 2005 will amend the EPBC Act to provide that:

11. The taking of a climate change action —that is, the establishment of an industrial plant or other facility that emits, or is likely to emit, more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent per year; or any other action, or program of actions that lead, or are likely to lead to the emission of more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent per year—will require approval, unless the Minister decides that the action is not controlled under the Act.

12. The requirement for the Minister to consider whether the direct or indirect emissions of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent that are likely to result from the action will be minimised by the use of best practice environmental management and low emissions technology will further ensure the implementation of best practice measures in new developments.