ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT

Background:
Sustainable Australia is sometimes asked how we differ from The Greens party.

Apart from Sustainable Australia being a party of the political centre, a further fundamental difference is our strong view that Australia cannot secure a healthy environment without a meaningful sustainable population policy.

If we are to lower Australia's total environmental impact, as we must, we need to both lower our per capita environmental impact, and stabilise our population. Like with climate change, we need to 'think global, act local' on population.

Also see 'Closing the sustainability loop' by our party founder William Bourke: CLICK HERE

Policy
Australia should prioritise ecological sustainability and better protect, manage and restore its fragile and unique natural environment, not only for the health and wellbeing of the humans and biodiversity within it, but for its own intrinsic worth.

Policy Methods (Federal & State)
To help achieve this Australia should:

General

  • Invest more in environmental education and the protection, maintenance and ecological restoration of the natural environment.
  • End broadscale land clearing and initiate a nationwide ecological restoration program to rehabilitate degraded lands.
  • Provide increased employment, training and volunteer opportunities in conservation management, including via State national parks services and an enhanced national ‘sustainability army’ for the broader environment. This would particularly help revitalise regional, rural, remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (also see REGIONAL & RURAL policy).

Water

  • Better manage our water security, including through lower wastage and fairer water rights and responsibilities in regional Australia.

Forestry

  • Minimise the scale and improve the practices of native forest logging. This should include:
    • Avoiding the habitats of threatened, vulnerable and endangered native species
    • Increasing the forest reserve system
    • Restoring failed plantations back to native forest
    • Maximising the economic value-add for timber products
    • Supporting a diverse range of plantation products
  • End old growth forest logging.(1)
  • Not accredit Australian native forests or its waste to be burnt for biomass power as a ’renewable energy‘ source under the Renewable Energy Target or related schemes.
  • Subject all state Regional Forest Agreements to the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (Commonwealth) to ensure all forestry is subject to the usual environmental and planning approval requirements.
  • Achieve a sustainable population target.(2)

Climate

  • Contribute to staying below 1.5 degrees global temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels (3), by lowering Australia's greenhouse gas emissions as follows:
    • By at least 30 per cent below 2000 levels by 2025
    • By at least 40 per cent and up to 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2030
    • By at least 80 per cent and up to 100 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050
    • This should include:
      • Funding and subsidising research and development into renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency initiatives.
      • Adopting a renewable energy target (RET) of at least 50 per cent by 2030, and up to 100 per cent by 2050.
      • Imposing a moratorium on all new export-based coal mines in Australia.
      • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies (excluding the Diesel Fuel Rebate).
      • Achieving a sustainable population target, mainly via lower immigration in Australia's case but also considering family size, given the pressure of every new person on greenhouse gas emissions via transport, energy, etc consumption.(4)
      • Adopting a globally consistent carbon pricing mechanism that does not unfairly penalise Australian industries.
      • Vigorously lobbying other nations to ensure fair and reasonable global action on greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Promote the environmental benefits of plant-based food.
      • Considering all energy production options to deliver our climate policy targets and ultimately a zero-net emissions Australian energy supply.

Waste

  • Significantly reduce its waste production, and increase its waste recycling and energy recovery. This should include:
    • Achieving better product design and standards to reduce materials usage, and improve warranties, longevity, repairability, re-usability and recycling capacity.
    • Establishing a national ‘sustainable design and development’ centre of excellence, with public-private partnership funding.
    • Supporting major community centres dedicated to the repair, re-sale and responsible recycling of electronic waste and household goods.
    • Providing widely available container deposit schemes.
    • Adopt a national battery recycling scheme.

Related policies

  • Also see other environment-related policies including ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS, ANIMALS & BIODIVERSITY, ENERGY, FINITE & NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCE USE, SUSTAINABLE POPULATION & IMMIGRATION, PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT and TRANSPORT.

Footnotes:

  1. Old growth forest is forest that is ecologically mature (usually at least 100-200 years old) and has been subjected to negligible unnatural disturbance.
  2. Population growth is a "key threatening process" to Australia's biodiversity, as recognised by the Australian Conservation Foundation: CLICK HERE
  3. Sustainable Australia supports the science that humans are contributing to climate change. To this end, our Australian greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are adopted from recommendations by the Climate Change Authority.
  4. Population growth undermines efforts to lower carbon emissions: CLICK HERE

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