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30 March 2007 - Strongest climate change laws required       

Strongest climate change laws required

Sydney, 30 March 2007                                

Humane Society International (HSI) is calling on both sides of politics to commit to tabling long overdue climate change legislation, reflecting Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which came into force 13 years ago.

“In recent years Australia has passed legislation that reflects its obligations under a range of international agreements.  We have legislation for the protection of marine mammals, Antarctica, biodiversity, the Southern Ocean and protecting the atmosphere from ozone depleting substances, but Australia still doesn’t have any legislation on  climate change,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director.

The Climate Convention has the primary objective of stabilising Greenhouse Gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent ‘dangerous’ human interference with the climatic system. However there is mounting expert opinion that the present rate of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere has already created dangerous interference with climatic systems.

“Yesterday HSI congratulated the Australian Government on taking a leadership role in working to address one of the key issues in the climate change debate – massive loss of forests and peat lands through deforestation,” said Mr. Kennedy. “However a Global fund to address deforestation does not negate Australia’s responsibilities at home. For Australia to meet its international obligations under the Climate Convention, we need strong and comprehensive legislation.”

HSI is calling on both sides of politics to enact legislation that would regulate energy and water use, and greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and address carbon trading schemes, biodiversity adaptation programs and river systems as a means of mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. HSI has sought specific legal advice on the constitutional powers available to the Commonwealth to undertake such action – there are no legal impediments.

A National Climate Change Abatement & Adaptation Act is just one element of a package of measures that HSI will be advocating to both sides of Government in coming weeks, which would also include additional Triggers under the National Environment Act; an expert Climate Change Advisory Committee reporting directly to the Minister for the Environment; increased funding of research and development into green technologies and the export of knowledge and technologies overseas; signature of the Kyoto Protocol; and the development and implementation of a comprehensive set of biodiversity adaptation plans to assist Australia’s vulnerable native wildlife in coping with the impacts of climate change.

“Climate change is a globally and potentially catastrophic problem that will take cooperation, innovation and a range of complementary measures if we are going to mitigate its adverse impacts and allow for appropriate adaptation to take place,” Mr Kennedy concluded.

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