Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s environment – a winner at National Labor Party Conference

Labor will strengthen the law to protect Australia’s Environment and Heritage – TONY BURKE

Environmental wins at the National Labor Conference, Independent Australia By Stephen Williams | 13 January 2019 Stephen Williams questions national co-convenor Felicity Wade of the Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN) about new Labor policy.

“………Our goal was to ensure climate action was no longer an issue to be used tactically, becoming instead an article of faith. We believe a deep-rooted response to the environmental challenges of the 21st Century is essential to the long-term survival of a modern social-democratic party.

At the 2015 Labor National Conference, LEAN won the commitments to 50% renewable energy and 45% emission reductions by 2030. But it was just a few days ago, at the 2018 National Conference, that our real goal was won. Watching the debate on the floor, there was confidence and enthusiasm. Labor not only believes climate change is real, but that it is core business.

Party heavyweights lined up to affirm their commitment to turning around the “climate emergency”, as one of the motions described it. The continued challenge of the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland is still outstanding. LEAN believes that while Labor will continue to support existing coal operations for some time, allowing a new, huge coal basin to be opened up is both risky and undermines perceptions of our commitment to climate change.

LEAN’s next task is to rebuild commitment to the natural environment in the same way. On issues of the natural environment, it is more about remembering something lost, rather than embracing something new. Visionary environmental policy has a Labor history and this week’s commitment to a new environment Act and an independent Environment Protection Authority are the first steps in reclaiming this.

The current environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC), is from the Howard era. It is primarily a tool to facilitate development, not to protect the environment. What’s more, it annoys business, and costs money by creating delays and confusion, little of which translates into good environmental outcomes. The only proactive aspects of the Act create lists of environmental threats with no power to protect anything or make a difference to real-world outcomes.

Since the EPBC Act was legislated in 1999, the number of threatened species and ecosystems has increased by 30%, with three animals going extinct. About 7.4 million hectares of threatened-species habitat (more than the size of Tasmania) has been cleared. Only 0.3% (21 of 6,100 developments assessed by the Act) have been rejected for unacceptable risks to the environment.

Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinctions in the world and is the only developed nation in the world’s top ten land-clearers. About 3,000 Australians die each year due to air pollution, plastics clog our waterways, while the community’s efforts to recycle are not matched by government-led national responses to ensure the waste is re-used.

We need more power at the federal level to stem these losses.  ……..

When asked by our campaigners how they felt about climate change policy, the message they sent back to the party was unequivocal: 370 local ALP branches endorsed our call for 50% renewables by 2030 and credible emission-reduction targets.

Having achieved the policy outcome at the 2015 National Conference, we applied the same methodology to our call for a complete overhaul of Australia’s environmental laws and institutions. And thanks to Bill Shorten, who personally advocated for the reforms, Labor committed to these outcomes at the 2018 National Conference………,12270

January 14, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics

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