740 Fossil fuel projects greenlit under flawed national environment law shows urgent need for change

27.09.23 By

A climate council analysis has revealed a staggering 740 fossil fuel projects have been waved through under Australia’s main environment law, highlighting a fundamental flaw: its failure to directly address climate change.

The new report Beating Around the Bush: How Australia’s National Environment Law Fails Climate and Nature exposes how the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act is failing to shield Australia’s unique wildlife and iconic natural places from the catastrophic impact of climate change.

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said: “The fact that 740  fossil fuel projects – including high polluting coal mines, oil rigs and gas extraction facilities – have been given the green light under our nation’s main environmental law shows that it is spectacularly failing to protect our precious natural places, species and habitats.

“Our understanding of the way climate change threatens the environment has changed dramatically in the 20 years since this law was written. But the direct protections offered by our national environment law simply haven’t kept up. As climate impacts worsen around us, it’s urgent we fix this.

“The Albanese Government promised to strengthen the law before the last election, but while this work seems stuck in limbo, more fossil fuel projects are being waved through – including four since the government came to office.     

“The Government can step in to genuinely protect our environment by strengthening the law to put climate at its heart.”

Professor Tim Flannery, Chief Councilor at the Climate Council said: “We can’t protect nature without addressing climate change – the two are intrinsically linked.

“Climate change is making extreme events like droughts, bushfires, floods and storms more frequent, and much more severe. These extremes harm the natural environment we all depend on for healthy and safe lives by destroying habitats, killing insects, animals and plants and disrupting food and water resources.

“With unnatural disasters now coming hot on the heels of each other, our landscapes have far less opportunity to recover and regenerate. We are at risk of losing thousands of precious species and habitats if we don’t start taking environmental protection seriously. 

“That means fixing Australia’s national environment law so that it actively seeks to prevent more harmful climate change, while also protecting and promoting biodiversity. We need nature laws that genuinely protect nature by promoting a safe and liveable climate.” 

For interviews please contact George Hyde on 0431 330 919 or george.hyde@climatecouncil.org.au.