ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT

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

  • Firstly, Sustainable Australia is a party of the political centre.
  • Secondly, within a broad environmental policy platform, we stridently advocate for the inclusion of a meaningful sustainable population policy, based on Australia's pre-eminent environmental science.

See full background at bottom of page.


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:

Water

  • Better manage our water security, including through lower wastage and fairer water rights and responsibilities in regional Australia
  • Conduct a Federal Royal Commission into water management in the Murray–Darling Basin, to scientifically determine, amongst other things:
    • An appropriate cap on water diversions
    • An investigation of total return flows from irrigation water and total water actually delivered to the environment
    • The appropriateness of speculative water trading, which will need to acknowledge that not all water is equal, and that the trade of water entitlements and allocations between states and valleys can be detrimental to the environment
    • Importantly, policy outcomes would incorporate representation from all stakeholders in the decision-making process, particularly farming communities and traditional owners.
  • Reduce population growth pressures (also see SUSTAINABLE POPULATION - AUSTRALIA policy).

Animals & Biodiversity

  • Better protect animal habitats and welfare, and its biodiversity. This should include:
    • Adopting a properly enforced national biodiversity and native species program, including:
      • Widespread urban, rural and marine animal habitat protection;
      • Stronger laws to prevent inappropriate land and tree-clearing;
      • Stronger laws to prevent the depopulation and eventual extinction of threatened, vulnerable and endangered native species, including through the proposed Koala Protection Act;
      • North-South and East-West wildlife corridors; and
      • Humane reduction and eradication programs for high-risk feral species.
    • Implementing mandatory and independently regulated best practice animal welfare management in farming, agriculture and domestic environments.
    • Minimising its use of factory farming
    • Transitioning to an end to live animal exports during the 2019+ term of federal parliament (also see REGIONAL & RURAL AUSTRALIA policy).(1)
    • Reducing (human) population growth pressures.(2)

Climate change

  • Contribute to staying below 1.5 degrees global temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels (3,4), by lowering Australia's greenhouse gas emissions below 2000 levels as follows:
    • By at least 30 per cent by 2025
    • By at least 40 per cent and up to 60 per cent by 2030
    • By at least 80 per cent and up to 100 per cent 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 coal mines in Australia.
      • Imposing a moratorium on all fracking, including for coal seam gas (also see ENERGY policy).
      • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies (excluding the Diesel Fuel Rebate).
      • 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.
      • Promoting the environmental benefits of plant-based food.
      • Reducing population growth pressures.(5)

Finite & Non-Renewable Resource Use

  • Sustainably manage its finite and non-renewable resources, so as to enhance economic security, encourage the highest priority uses and leave a fair share for future generations of Australians. This should include:
    • Conducting regular and full public audits of its finite and non-renewable resources.
    • Implementing strategic resource depletion protocols and usage rights for appropriate finite and non-renewable resources, including minerals.(6)
    • Implementing domestic energy reservation policies for relevant resources, including natural gas.(7)
    • Adopting a Resource Super Profit Tax for iron ore and coal, the details of which would be determined following the implementation of a full resource audit and depletion protocol policy (also see JOBS & ECONOMY policy).
    • Selectively utilising government revenue generated from the depletion of resources to advance appropriate sustainability goals.
    • Reducing population pressures.

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.(8)
  • 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.
  • Reduce population growth pressures.

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.
    • Adopting a national battery recycling scheme.
    • Reducing population growth pressures.

Other

  • 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).
  • Adopt a meaningful population policy to reduce population growth pressures (also see SUSTAINABLE POPULATION - AUSTRALIA policy).(2)

Related policies

  • Also see other environment-related policies including ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS, ENERGY, SUSTAINABLE POPULATION & IMMIGRATION - AUSTRALIA, PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT and TRANSPORT.

Background

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

  • Firstly, Sustainable Australia is a party of the political centre.
  • Secondly, within a holistic environmental policy platform, we stridently advocate for the inclusion of a meaningful sustainable population policy, based on environmental science:

"The federal government’s State of the Environment 2016 report (prepared by a group of independent experts) predicts that population growth and economic development will be the main drivers of environmental problems such as land-use change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change."

The Victorian Government's Victorian Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report 2018, is further shocking evidence (unreported in the mainstream media) of how government-engineered rapid population growth is wiping out our efforts to reduce per capita (and therefore total) emissions.

If we are to lower Australia's total environmental impact, as we must, we need to both lower our per capita environmental impacts and stabilise our population.

Realistically, without an end to Australia's politically engineered rapid population growth (via successive Liberal / National and Labor / Greens Federal Governments), we cannot secure a sustainable environment.

Also see Closing the sustainability loop by party founder William Bourke.


Footnotes:

  1. In 2011, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU), estimated that some 3500 direct employment meat processing jobs have been lost because of the Australian live animal trade. An ACIL Tasman report (2011) on Australia’s live animal exports estimated that the establishment of a meat processing facility in northern Australia could create up to 1300 new jobs in the region.
  2. Population growth is a "key threatening process" to Australia's biodiversity, as recognised by the Australian Conservation Foundation: CLICK HERE
    Reducing (human) population growth will also help minimise animal habitat (including tree and bushland) destruction, urban and coastal sprawl, intensification of land use, factory farming demand, diversion of fresh water resources away from natural habitats, and highway traffic loads which form significant wildlife barriers and threats.
  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. Sustainable Australia supports the current ACT Government's aim for 100% Renewable energy by 2020
  5. Population growth undermines efforts to lower carbon emissions: CLICK HERE and HERE
  6. Depletion protocols publicly report the size and quality of remaining reserves, and limit the rate of their utilisation to an appropriate annual quota to ensure that substitution or efficiency gains can keep pace with depletion rates.
  7. Domestic energy reservation policies help secure long term energy supplies and maintain downward pressure on domestic energy prices.
  8. Old growth forest is forest that is ecologically mature (usually at least 100-200 years old) and has been subjected to negligible unnatural disturbance.