Budget Leaves Biodiversity Bereft
Humane Society International (HSI) is unimpressed with the Rudd Government’s budget for the environment and climate change.
Australia’s fragile and irreplaceable biodiversity is left particularly bereft despite the U.N. declaring 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, precisely to encourage governments to take the global biodiversity crisis more seriously. The Government has cut over $300m in funding for environment and biodiversity protection over the next 4 years including from Caring for our Country and Landcare programs. Already grossly underfunded, this is money the nation’s biodiversity can ill-afford.
“Conservationists despair over the failure of successive governments to recognise how dependent the economy is on biodiverse landscapes that function well ecologically, and invest accordingly”, said HSI Senior Program Manager, Nicola Beynon. “Failure to invest in environment and biodiversity protection is short sighted and only increases cost burdens for the future.
“And shame on the Rudd Government for thumbing its nose to biodiversity protection in 2010 of all years and in the very week the U.N. Global Biodiversity Outlook has warned of rapid degradation and collapse ” said Ms Beynon.
An extra $8.1m for marine bioregional planning is one positive amongst the disappointment and we hope it will be directed towards strong protection for the critical habitats of marine species.
The $652 investment in renewable energy is welcome but Australia’s carbon pollution will not be mitigated effectively without a price on carbon to disincentivise pollution from industrial sources.
Beyond the budget, HSI is looking forward to the Government at least fortifying its ability to protect the environment through promised reform of Australia’s national environment laws: the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. Environment Minister, Peter Garrett is due to respond to an independent review of the EPBC Act mid year and set out the Government’s plans to strengthen the legislation. Although any reform of the legislation will need to be accompanied by a significant financial investment in implementation and enforcement to be effective.
In the absence of an Emissions Trading Scheme, the Government must rethink its poor decision of last year to ditch an election commitment for a “greenhouse trigger” in the EPBC Act to regulate major new carbon emitting projects.