Sustainability Bites

There is no such thing as a free lunch

policy

Nature Repair Market bill may repair the environment, but is it the Budget that will need repair?

Nature Repair Market bill may repair the environment, but is it the Budget that will need repair?

Can markets put a value on improvements in biodiversity, enabling landholders to be paid for their services to nature and allowing businesses, among others, to invest in the biodiversity credits that landholders would produce. The new Nature Repair Market bill certainly aligns with this framing, but investors are unlikely to sign up, at least not without inducements.

New ‘Big Agenda’ for Nature faces many hurdles

New ‘Big Agenda’ for Nature faces many hurdles

The Albanese Government’s ‘Nature Positive Plan’ announced last week is a much-anticipated response to Professor Graeme Samuel’s 2020 Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The plan is packed with policy announcements, most of which stick close to Samuel’s recommendations. But the path of this big agenda stretches far over the political horizon and is littered with hurdles. Here are ten hurdles the minister will have to jump, just for starters.

The fifth and final transformation: Restoring trust in decision-making

The fifth and final transformation: Restoring trust in decision-making

One of the main findings of the Samuel Review of the EPBC Act was that it was not trusted, either by business nor by the wider community. Restoring trust requires a fundamental shift from process-based decision-making to outcome-based decisions. This requires standards supported by regional plans and stronger institutions, including information systems and compliance regimes. At the end of the day, people will only trust environmental laws that truly protect and conserve the environment.

A connection with tomorrow’s citizens – calling for a Ministry for the Future

A connection with tomorrow’s citizens – calling for a Ministry for the Future

The boldest and most fundamental change being proposed in the book The Ministry for the Future is a combination of economics, technology and innovations in governance that, when combined, gave reason for people to invest in their future. For surely, that is the real challenge of our times. It seems unprecedented climate disruption, with the certain prospect of greater disruption with every passing year, is not enough for us to make this important shift.

It’s ‘business as usual’, but at least there actually is plenty of business

It’s ‘business as usual’, but at least there actually is plenty of business

Australia’s environment department has been run down over the past decade. This month’s Estimate hearings reveals that the new Labor Government is putting extra resources towards environmental management. What does that mean? In terms of Indigenous heritage protection it’s a rare example of good news in the environment portfolio. In terms of biodiversity, the new government has made a small down payment, but on a veritable mountain of environmental debt.

Simplicity harmony and the third transformation

Simplicity harmony and the third transformation

Proposals for regulatory streamlining, and for the alignment of federal and state environmental assessment laws have been floated at various times over the last 30 years. Graeme Samuel’s review recommended a harmonising of both environmental processes and outcomes between federal and state jurisdictions. To do this we need to: Develop national standards; build a risk-based decision-making system; accredit states to take most of the decisions.

Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously: The second transformation of national environmental law

Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously: The second transformation of national environmental law

Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously in environmental policy is not limited to the transformation recommended by Professor Samuel under the EPBC Act. Providing for ‘respectful consideration of Indigenous views and knowledge’ will take time and investment.

Getting results: the first transformation of our national environmental law starts with ‘standards’

Getting results: the first transformation of our national environmental law starts with ‘standards’

To transform our national environmental law, we need to begin with ‘standards’
Discretionary, bottom-up decision-making is no way to achieve consistent & ecologically sustainable outcomes.

Five transformations: Breathing life into Australia’s national environmental law

Five transformations: Breathing life into Australia’s national environmental law

The EPBC Act is the most important environmental law in the country, but it doesn’t work. To achieve what it was established to do it needs to:
– pursuing national environmental outcomes (rather than just be a prescriptive regulatory processe);
– shift from Indigenous tokenism to full use of Indigenous knowledge;
– simplify regulatory outcomes between federal and state jurisdictions;
– lay new foundations for quality decision-making; and
– restore trust in decision-making.

Down into the weeds again – the new government announces a return to bioregional planning

Down into the weeds again – the new government announces a return to bioregional planning

Our new environment minister has announced the government’s commitment to regional (biodiversity) planning. Australian governments have been talking about this approach for over 25 years. If done well, regional planning has the potential to enable biodiversity conservation to be integrated across land uses, programs and tenures, and enhance resilience to climate change. But doing it well will take money, good planning and collaboration with multiple partners – a big ask for any national government.

Triggering the safeguard or safeguarding the trigger: Climate, large emitters and the EPBC Act

Triggering the safeguard or safeguarding the trigger: Climate, large emitters and the EPBC Act

Triggering the climate safeguard or safeguarding the climate trigger
A climate trigger should be limited to actions that are not caught by the safeguard mechanism, such as land clearing.
However, there are some benefits that are better delivered by one or other of the two mechanisms.