At Humane Society International we rightly place great emphasis on law reform. Laws are important because they set the rules for how animals are treated—whether they be animals in human or wild environments. Weak…
The Australian Government is currently consulting on a proposed Nature Repair Market, designed to facilitate private investment in nature conservation. Submissions on an exposure draft of the legislation that will create the Market are due on 24 February 2023.
What is the proposed Nature Repair Market?
The Government is proposing to introduce a Nature Repair Market to make it easier for businesses, organisations, governments and individuals to invest in projects to protect, manage and restore nature.
The proposed Market is part of the Government’s response to the 2021 State of the Environment Report which highlighted the dire state of Australia’s natural environment. The Government is envisaging a system whereby private companies and individuals can fund nature repair and contribute to the government’s goal of no new extinctions and protecting 30% of Australia’s land and seas by 2030.
The Nature Repair Market Bill creates a system that will allow the Clean Energy Regulator to issue Australian landholders with tradable biodiversity certificates for projects that protect, manage and restore nature. The biodiversity certificates can then be sold to businesses, organisations, governments and individuals.
Have your say
The Australian Government is currently consulting on an exposure bill for the Nature Repair Market. An exposure bill is the legislation that the government proposes to introduce to Parliament but provided to the community for consultation in advance of it being considered by the Parliament. The Government will review the feedback received, and potentially make amendments before tabling the bill in Parliament.
The exposure bill is supported by four fact sheets that provide an overview of the nature repair market, provide information on the proposed biodiversity certificates, consider how to ensure integrity in the market, and outline how the government will support First Nations participation in the scheme.
To see all the materials available and find out how to make a submission on the Nature Repair Market visit: https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/nature-repair-market-exposure-draft.
Submissions close on 24 February 2023.
What does HSI think?
HSI welcomes the intent of creating a system that will facilitate private investment in nature repair. However, such a system must not replace Government investment which needs to be significantly increased. The system must remain focussed on repairing past degradation and shouldn’t be conflated with an offset system which allows new environmental harm to take place in exchange for offsetting impacts elsewhere.
You can use the below points to craft your submission. The more you use your own wording, the better!
Things that we welcome in the draft legislation:
- An independent, expert Nature Repair Market Committee to oversee the program;
- The introduction of integrity standards;
- Fit and proper person requirements;
- Methodology determinations that set out the requirements for different types of projects, must meet legislated biodiversity integrity standards and must be endorsed by the Nature Repair Market Committee;
- A public register of projects and certificates;
- An assurance and compliance framework to maintain integrity in the market and provide confidence that projects are being delivered as expected; and
- Efforts to empower First Nations peoples and to ensure that First Nations people must give free, prior and informed consent to projects on their land.
Key issues that require further consideration in the current exposure bill include:
- The proposed Nature Repair Market Committee has a range of expertise which would assist in the overall operation of the scheme, but consideration of specific methodologies and the outcomes they are likely to achieve should be considered by ecological experts.
- It will be important that any project methods approved are consistent with the proposed integrity standards and the recommendations of the Committee.
- A single certificate will be issued for each project. It’s unclear how this system will help purchases understand the ecological value of the work or the amount of funding required to deliver environmental outcomes.
- It is proposed that most projects will only have to be maintained for 25 years—this means that environmental protection is not permanent and will be subject to voluntary ongoing landholder commitments beyond that time—potentially undermining any work that is done.
- The biodiversity market is designed to operate in parallel with the carbon market. It’s important that this doesn’t lead to double counting—where landholders are paid twice for delivering the same environmental outcomes.
- It is proposed that the Clean Energy Regulator will be responsible for administering the scheme. There is significant concern about the lack of relevant expertise in this body and recent questions of integrity about the carbon market that they oversee.
- It is proposed to give the environment department the power to purchase biodiversity certificates. Experience from the NSW offsets market and the Nature Conservation Trust has shown there is significant potential for an agency with dual responsibilities to significantly distort the market.
If you would like to complete the questionnaire available, instead of writing a full submission, we recommend you use the same above points. The questionnaire only has one question, and therefore all feedback must be provided within the single space provided.
We recommend that you adjust the key points above to suit your writing style, and supply them in full in reponse to the questionnaire.
Want to know more about the law reform process? Check out our blog Demystifying Law Reform by our Head of Campaigns Nicola Beynon!