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National leadership needed on climate change

National leadership needed on climate change

By Karin Derkley

Climate Change Environmental Protection 

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Governments are treating climate change like a political football, undermining the opportunity to properly reform environmental legislation to tackle it effectively, a LIV submission has argued.

The submission is responding to a Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications inquiry into the impacts of climate change on housing, buildings and infrastructure.

LIV Environmental Issues Committee chair Hubert Algie says that while the Victorian government has led the way in taking proactive steps to mitigate the effects of climate change, its efforts are being undermined by the absence of a clear policy position by the Federal government.

“Climate change is a national issue, so any state-based work is undermined unless we deal with it on a national basis.”

The LIV is calling for a ground-up wholescale review and reform of Australia’s environmental legislation, emphasising that this is a matter of significant national importance.

On a state level, town planning and building laws and policies can play a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of climate change through measures such as building standards, greening the built environment and providing energy efficient heating and cooling, the submission points out.

But Mr Algie says these are piecemeal responses to the bigger issue of climate change. “It’s great we are thinking about these things. But what we need is not green-tape cutting, but wholescale environmental law reform on a national level.”

The submission cites The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL), which has argued in a technical paper that the problem of climate change will not be solved by small changes, but through a wholescale reform of environmental legislation and policy.

The main legislation governing environmental issues, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, was introduced in 1999 and has been chipped away at over the years to become a “patchwork of difficult to use laws” that does not respond to today’s reality of climate change, Mr Algie says.

“What we need is to look at the laws we have in place and review them from the ground up, not piece by piece,” he says.

Law reform could put in place incentives and tools to work towards the mitigation of climate change, he says.

“But the reality is that it’s not even on the agenda. Instead climate change is being treated as a hot potato issue that bounces around – whether it’s the energy targets, price on carbon, funding of solar panels or insulation.”


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