International: IPCC Synthesis Report provides guidance for policymakers
The IPCC is currently in its Sixth Assessment Cycle during which it has produced Assessment Reports (AR) of its three Working Groups, three Special Reports and a refinement to the methodology report. On 20 March 2023, the IPCC released the AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023 which, to extract some key points from the Summary for Policymakers, finds that:
- human activities, particularly, through the emission of greenhouse gases have "unequivocally caused global warming, with global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850–1900 in 2011–2020";
- this has resulted in widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean cryosphere and biosphere which has led to adverse effects, loss and damage to nature and people; and
- while adaptation planning and implementation has progressed well across various sectors and regions an adaptation gap exists and will grow if the current rate of implementation continues.
The Report acknowledges that policies and laws addressing mitigation have expanded since the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) which was released on 2 November 2022. However, it notes that:
- many of the climate related risks and predicted long-terms impacts of future warming are much higher than previously assessed in AR5;
- there are gaps between projected emissions, nationally determined contributions to emissions and the finance flows which are required to meet climate goals; and
- the window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future is reducing as rapid measures to counter the effects of global warming are not implemented to the necessary degree.
The Report has found that while some future changes are inevitable, through significant, accelerated, and sustained implementation of adaption actions the projected damage to humans and ecosystems, particularly, around air quality and health could be minimised. This requires "political commitment, well-aligned multilevel governance, institutional frameworks, laws, policies and strategies and enhanced access to finance and technology".
TAS: Tasmanian Government seeking feedback on draft Climate Change Action Plan
Tasmania has released a draft Climate Change Action Plan 2023-25 which outlines the Government's plan for action on climate change in the next few years to support Tasmania's transition to maintain net zero greenhouse gas emissions, or lower, from 2030. Some of the proposed goals of the Action Plan include achieving a 100% electric vehicle government fleet, reducing the volume of organic waste sent to landfill by 50%, and implementing carbon farming and precision agriculture technologies.
The three priority areas of the Action Plan are information and knowledge, transition and innovation, and adaptation and resilience. A new Action Plan will be developed in 2025 to incorporate the State-wide Climate Change Risk Assessment and the Emissions Reduction and Resilience Plans.
Submissions on the draft Action Plan can be made until 6 April 2023 in the manner prescribed here.
WA: Agricultural emissions reduction survey: have your say
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has released the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Options for Western Australian Agriculture consultation paper inform the sectoral emission reduction strategies for agriculture.
The consultation paper sets out a number of items which DPIRD is seeking input on from key stakeholders in the WA agriculture sector, including:
- the potential actions, including technologies;
- supporting research and training on low emissions production systems;
- changes to production methods; and
- consultation with First Nations on land restoration activities.
Feedback to DPIRD via survey can be made here until 5:00pm on 14 April 2023.
QLD: Draft E-Products Action Plan released for consultation: have your say
To deliver on a key priority of the Queensland Government’s Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy to improve the management of e-waste in Queensland, a draft E-Products Action Plan has been developed. The draft Plan is a 10-year strategy aimed at maximising waste avoidance, reduction, reuse, repair and recycling of e-products, including, solar panels, electronic waste and batteries. To achieve this objective, the draft Plan sets the following three goals:
- providing guidance to stakeholders on maximising waste reduction and sustainability outcomes for e-products;
- recover more materials and keep them circulating in the economy; and
- where waste cannot be avoided, extend the life of e-products through reuse, repair, refurbishment, and recovery.
The action themes discussion in the draft Plan include reuse and repair; consumer awareness and education; procurement; infrastructure and transport; and policy and regulatory reforms. The draft Plan proposes adjustments to existing policies and regulations, and initiating new reforms to stop reusable, repairable and recyclable e-products going to landfill, being hoarded and littered.
Submissions on the draft Plan can be made until 5pm Monday, 17 April 2023 in the manner prescribed here.
NT: Two key measures of the Territory Government's Circular Economic Strategy are open for public consultation
In April 2022, the Northern Territory Government Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) released the Circular Economy Strategy 2022-2027. The Strategy outlines a pathway to transition away from a linear take-make-waste society into one that treats waste as a resource to be kept out of the environment and in the economy. It is focused on three key priorities:
- modernising the regulatory framework to protect the environment and create the right regulatory settings for growing the circular economy;
- transitioning the Territory to a circular economy; and
- establishing the waste industry as a contributor to the Territory’s $40 billion by 2030 vision.
One of the components of the key priority listed at paragraph 1 above is phasing out and banning single use plastics in the Territory by 2025. On 8 March 2023, DEPWS published a Discussion Paper on Phasing out single-use plastics in the Northern Territory which is currently open for public consultation. The Discussion Paper highlights that in 2022, the Anindilyakwa Land Council Land and Sea Rangers, in partnership with Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign removed an estimated 100,000 pieces (4 tonnes) of rubbish, 94% of which was plastic, from 26km of pristine coastline in the Groote Archipelago. The Northern Territory Government plans to achieve a phase-out and ban of single use plastics, in general terms, by:
- implementing a risk-based licensing and registration scheme to ensure regulatory oversight of the waste and recycling industry;
- introducing a new regulatory framework to manage the environmental impacts, including the waste and pollution associated with mining and industrial projects; and
- strengthening law and policy around the storage and disposal of hazardous waste, including the development of waste acceptance criteria for importing waste into the Territory.
Submissions can be made until 14 April 2023 in the manner prescribed here.
Container deposit scheme
The Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) was introduced in 2012 and has resulted in the return of around 80% of all containers sold in the Territory and has diverted over 54 kilotonnes of aluminium, steel and plastics from landfill. To achieve the key priority listed at paragraph 2 above, the Territory Government plans to embed the idea that waste material can be a valuable resource in Government policy, regulation and services, and to identify opportunities for material recovery and reuse in the built environment, including residential, commercial and industrial. One of the ways in which the Government plans to achieve this is by implementing reforms to the CDS in the Environment Protection (Beverage Containers and Plastics Bags) Act 2011 (NT) to expand on its scope (such as to include wine bottles and milk containers) and increase accessibility to the scheme in regional and remote areas.
In March 2023, DEPWS published a Discussion Paper on Improving the Container Deposit Scheme that was developed with information about proposed changes to the scheme to implement the final phase of recommendations from a 2018 independent review by Ernst & Young. The proposed legislative reforms will be targeted at reducing container complexity, improving scheme reporting and incentivising container returns by setting targets.
The Discussion Paper on improving the CDS is open for public consultation until 14 April 2023 and submissions can be made in the manner prescribed here.
NT: Petroleum Royalty Bill passes Parliament
On 1 March 2023 the Northern Territory Government passed the Petroleum Royalty Act 2023 (NT) which is designed to provide certainty to the industry and to encourage the continued exploration and development of the Territory's petroleum resources. The new legislative framework will take effect from 1 July 2023 for the calculation, payment and administration of petroleum royalties which repeals and replaces the current arrangements in the Petroleum Act 1984 (NT). The Act applies to petroleum recovered from onshore exploration activities and excludes any petroleum produced from coastal waters which is subject to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1981 (NT).
Under the current scheme, individual agreements in relation to royalty payments are negotiated between the Minister and the producer. However, under the new scheme, royalties will instead be imposed at a rate of 10% of the gross value at the wellhead of petroleum produced from a project area in a royalty year. In the Territory, ownership of petroleum produced passes to the holder of a petroleum interest at the wellhead and accordingly, the wellhead is the trigger and valuation point for royalty purposes. Given that petroleum is not usually sold at the wellhead, a netback methodology is provided for in the scheme to recognise the costs incurred after the wellhead to the point of sale.
The Act also legislates administrative provisions within the petroleum royalty framework by applying the Taxation Administration Act 2007 (NT) to bring administration of petroleum royalties up to date with other revenue lines in the Territory.
ACT: Canberrans given chance to provide feedback on new gas proposals
The ACT Government is preparing to give residents a say on a proposed regulation which will prevent new gas network connections in the ACT. As part of Canberra's commitment to be a net zero emission city by 2045, the ACT Government is trying to plan its transition off fossil fuels, with fossil fuel gas currently accounting for more than 20% of the Territory’s greenhouse gas emissions.
An Issues Paper has been released and feedback is being sought on the following issues:
- identifying land or premises that are subject to the regulation;
- determining the types of land and premises to be included in initial regulation;
- application of the regulation to greenfield and infill developments, including renovations and knock-down rebuilds;
- exemptions to the regulation;
- commencement date; and
- transition period and considerations.
To have your say on the new regulation an online survey can be completed or a written submission uploaded here until 20 April 2023.
QLD: Low emissions roadmap to guide agriculture industry
The Queensland Government has released a Low Emissions Agriculture Roadmap 2022 – 2032 which outlines a clear pathway to reach cleaner food and fibre production whilst retaining its position as a world-leader in agriculture. The Roadmap is aimed at assisting the agriculture industry and the broader supply chain to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in order to help achieve Queensland’s 2050 net zero emissions target.
The Roadmap was designed with industry and has been drafted to generate the best conditions for a sustainable future across the following pathways:
- livestock emissions;
- cropping and horticulture emissions;
- On-farm energy opportunities;
- Carbon farming and landscape management; and
- Regions and supply chains.
The Roadmap outlines:
- technologies and policies needed to facilitate a measured and continued decline in production-based GHG emissions
- practices producers can adopt to manage their GHG emissions and position their business to capitalise on low emissions technologies.
Commonwealth: National Sustainable Ocean Plan
The proposed development of a National Sustainable Ocean Plan was announced on 1 March 2023 at the Business Leaders Summit. The Plan would be designed to identify a new vision for the future of Australia's ocean and developed to support communities and Traditional Custodians of Sea Country while also sustaining the growing opportunities from the ocean economy, including, offshore energy and aquaculture.
The Plan is expected to be developed in collaboration with State and Territory Governments, First Nations peoples, marine sectors and industries and other ocean stakeholders. It will cover all waters in Australia's Exclusive Economy Zone which includes from the coastline out to 200 nautical miles but excludes Antarctic waters. The development of the Ocean Plan is expected to begin in 2023, with implementation from 2024.
VIC: Public comments sought for Victoria's 30-year infrastructure strategy
Victoria's 30-year infrastructure is reviewed every 3-5 years to make recommendations to the Victorian Government about how to get the best use from the State’s existing infrastructure and deliver new infrastructure where it is needed most. The strategy is intended to address the key questions of how infrastructure can support fairer access and can improve resilience to disruption, and how to deliver sustainable economic prosperity and reduce the impacts of climate change.
Feedback will be collated into a summary engagement report which will be considered alongside technical assessments and additional evidence to inform the direction of Victoria's infrastructure.
Submissions on the strategy can be made here until Sunday 28 May 2023. More information can be found here.
VIC: City of Melbourne proposing new sustainable building standards: have your say
The City of Melbourne Council has released Amendment C376 (Sustainable Building Design Amendment) to the planning scheme for public consultation. The amendment proposes new mandatory and discretionary sustainable building design standards and requirements. The changes will only apply to new buildings and will not apply to existing buildings.
The Council have included aGreen Factor tool
Submissions on the proposed amendment can be made until 17 April 2023 in the manner prescribed here
SA: First step in flood hazard mapping and assessment project: have your say
The South Australian Government is consulting on stage one of the three-stage Hazard Mapping and Assessment Project which will:
- update mapping of riverine and flash flood hazards for 13 local government areas for the Hazard (Flooding – Evidence Required) Overlay in the Planning and Design Code;
- procure new flood studies to inform mapping of all of South Australia which has already commenced; and
- amend the State-wide Flooding Hazards Code a second time to incorporate the new mapping from Stage 2 for all of South Australia.
Submissions may be made until 21 April 2023 in the methods specified here.
WA: Significant planning reforms announced
The Western Australian Government has confirmed that a new Bill will be introduced to Parliament later in 2023 to significantly amend the Planning and Development Act 2005 (WA). It is understood that while the amendments will continue to deliver the original 2019 Action Plan for Planning Reform, they will also include further amendments that have been identified from stakeholder consultation. These further proposed amendments include:
- a change to the composition of the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) and emphasising the WAPC's role in strategic planning;
- formalising regional and district structure planning and development contribution plans;
- the permanent establishment and refinement of the development assessment pathway for proposals of State and regional significance through the State Development Assessment Unit along with creating a 120-day assessment and determination timeframe;
- making DAPs optional for developments over $2 million, subject to specified exclusions; and
- reducing the number of Development Assessment Panels (DAP) to three: one each for the Perth inner area, the Perth outer metropolitan area and the WA regional area.
WA: Proposed changes to environment assessments of WA Planning Schemes: have your say
The Department of Water and Environment is consulting on a discussion paper and the exposure draft of the Environmental Protection Amendment Regulations 2022 (WA). These regulations if implemented would give effect to a new section 48AAA of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) which would prescribe that certain types of planning schemes would not require assessment by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Currently all local and regional planning schemes must be referred to the EPA, even if they will not have any significant impact on the environment.
Submissions may be made here until 14 April 2023.
NT: NT Parks Masterplan released in conjunction with 10 Year Activation Plan
The Northern Territory Government's Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) has released the NT Parks Masterplan 2023-2033 which sets out the strategic direction for its 85 parks and reserves for the next 30 years. The Masterplan is intended to provide long-term certainty and purpose to park management, Traditional Owners, Territorians and potential investors. The strategic objectives for management are provided over nine themes:
- Natural Biodiversity values.
- Living cultural values and heritage.
- Joint management in partnership with traditional owners.
- Recreational futures.
- Aboriginal economic development.
- Growing the estate.
- Parks access.
Alongside the Masterplan, the NT Parks 10 Year Activation Plan has been released which sets out the projects and infrastructure works that will support the Masterplan over the next 10 years. The Activation Plan includes four top level themes to achieve the Masterplan objectives:
- Intensive tourism development in high visitation nodes and parks.
- Improving access to parks.
- Improving diversity of recreational opportunities.
- Refreshing existing facilities to enhance visitor experiences and products in identified parks.
According to the Activation Plan, developments will be staged and funded through four main sources including funding allocated through Departmental works, a request for new funding through a Capital Works Project, private and/or public investment and funding from the revenue derived from the introduction of new and increased park access fees.
Special thanks to Sarah Ashley (Brisbane), Sian Ainsworth (Melbourne), Madeleine Grant (Darwin), Eli Hall (Sydney) and Isabelle Macdonald (Perth) office for their contribution to this edition.