The Victorian Government is making decisions now which will have the effect of increasing our emissions for decades. Examples include:
- the extension of the Urban Growth Boundary and associated transport projects which will increase transport emissions, encourage further urban sprawl, and reduce farmland close to population centres;
- the continued logging and clearing of native forest and native vegetation which releases emissions and reduces vital carbon sinks;
- allowing the Hazelwood power station to continue operating until 2031 despite its being the highest emitting power station in any developed country; and
- issuing new licences to explore for coal in Gippsland.
This demonstrates that the Government is not properly considering climate change in its decision-making. It is clear that more proactive measures must be taken.
Right now, there is an excellent opportunity for Victoria to lead the way within Australia and the world, by establishing a robust framework to guide our path to a low carbon future.
The proposed Climate Charter sets up a legal framework to ensure Victoria is proactively addressing climate change. The framework will make Victoria a world leader on climate change. It will ensure Victoria can significantly reduce its emissions, and make its best effort to adapt to unavoidable climate impacts.
Inspired by the landmark Victorian Human Rights Charter, the Climate Charter also draws on some of the major climate change legislative frameworks around the world. It is designed to work with or without a national emissions trading scheme, meaning that if a future Federal Government brought in an emissions trading scheme, the Victorian Government would not need to repeal the Charter. This gives business and the community certainty in light of shifting Federal priorities, and means that State action does not need to keep being delayed while hoping for Federal action.
The Charter has seven key elements:
- Binding climate principles which set out how climate change is to be addressed in Victoria.
- Binding emission reduction targets (suggested as 25% of 2000 levels by 2020 and net zero emissions by 2050).
- A requirement that Victorian legislation and policy must be interpreted consistently with the principles of the Climate Charter.
- A ‘climate test’ which must be implemented by all public authorities in major government financial decisions and administrative decision-making.
- A requirement to develop a climate strategy to enable Victoria to meet its targets.
- The establishment of the Victorian Climate Authority to advise, oversee and report on climate action.
- Power for Victorian citizens to take the Victorian government to court if it is not meeting its climate obligations.
It also includes the preamble:
We, the people of Victoria, recognise the overwhelming threat that climate change poses to our State, our country and the world. We are committed to taking responsibility for our State’s contribution to climate change. We recognise that this is a responsibility shared by all levels of Government, the community and industry, and each must play its part. Victoria is committed to being a climate leader and to taking strong action to reduce greenhouse emissions to ensure environmental justice is achieved for current and future generations.
Read in full: The Victorian Climate Charter