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NATURAL RESOURCE ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AUSTRALIA

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AGRICULTURE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Within the federal system of government, the State and Territory governments have prime constitutional responsibility for land management. All State and Territory governments have departments responsible for agriculture. Within the Commonwealth Government, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia (AFFA) is primarily responsible for agricultural matters. Local government has a key "hands on" role in planning and land management in rural areas. Some local governments provide support and co-ordination or work directly with community based local Landcare groups.

The Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ), comprises the Commonwealth Government, six State and two Territory government Ministers and aims to develop integrated and sustainable agriculture, land and water management policies, strategies and practices for the benefit of the community.

Other Ministerial Councils that provide relevant policy co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the States include the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), the Ministerial Council for Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture (MCFFA) and the Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council (ANZMEC). The Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) and Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MDBMC) provide co-ordinated resource management in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's largest river system and the site of important segments of Australia's population and industry. Co-ordination is also promoted through intergovernmental committees of officials supporting the Ministerial Councils.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Formal structures at all levels of government provide community groups and non-government organisations with opportunities to participate in policy development and program implementation. The Commonwealth, States and Territories have established Regional and State Assessment Panels to advise on the selection and evaluation of projects funded from Natural Heritage Trust programs. Catchment Management Committees have been established under State government legislation and the Commonwealth Government has established the Australian Landcare Council. A Community Advisory Committee provides the Murray-Darling Basin Commission with advice from community and non-government organisations.

Community Landcare is an essential instrument for ensuring practical, relevant decision-making for natural resource management in rural Australia. By involving community members who naturally link the social, economic and environmental aspects of their lives and who have the greatest vested interest in change, an integrated and sustainable approach to natural resources management and rural development is being achieved. Some 4500 community groups are now involved in voluntary activities promoting sustainable land management and use, many of which are supported by the National Landcare Program and other programs supported by the Natural Heritage Trust. Landcare groups are becoming the most important source of information on local land management issues for members. About 30 per cent of farmers are now members of local landcare groups. Their activities are enhanced by the operations of local government councils who are increasingly implementing local strategies for sustainable land use.

Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD) acknowledges the national and international dimensions of sustainable development, particularly the important nexus between international trade and its impact on the environment. At the national level, the NSESD calls for the provision of a policy framework, which supports the efficient and environmentally responsible development of the nation's resources. The NSESD provides the policy framework for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to promote the ecologically sustainable management of Australia's environment and natural resources. The NSESD commits Australian Governments to ensure that land use decision making processes and land use allocations meet the overall goal of ecologically sustainable development and are based on a consideration of all land values, uses and flow on effects. Under the NSESD Governments are working to:

Within the framework of the NSESD a number of strategies and plans provide a focus for particular resource issues, including the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, the revised National Overview for the Decade of Landcare Plan (the main strategic plan for the National Landcare Program), the National Water Quality Management Strategy, the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Water Reform Framework, the National Weeds Strategy and the National Strategy for Rangeland Management. In April 1999 all Australian Governments agreed to implement national principles and guidelines for rangelands management. Additional strategies and plans are being developed from 1999 between the three levels of Australian Governments and regional and community interest groups. These include a National Dryland Salinity Program, a Salinity Management Strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin, and a rehabilitation strategy for the Great Artesian Basin groundwater resource. A National Land and Water Resources Audit is underway to provide benchmark information for these and other initiatives.

The complex nature of the causes of sustainability problems within Australia and the range of participants requires a mix of instruments to provide effective solutions. Therefore, as part of the NSESD Australian governments are undertaking a range of measures to address sustainability issues. These include:

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Agricultural Policy Review

The Commonwealth Government recognises economic growth as fundamental to alleviating poverty and ensuring food security for all, and has continued to pursue policies aimed at enhancing economic growth within the context of ecologically sustainable development and providing individuals with greater control over available resources, therefore increasing their access to sufficient safe food.

The Commonwealth Government is committed to trade liberalisation, regarding it as the key to promoting global food security, given that freer global trade will enable countries to exploit their comparative advantages and encourage economic growth in both developing and developed countries (see Food Security section). Accordingly, the Australian Government has contributed to world food security by pursuing the removal of international trade impediments to access of food imports through multilateral, regional and bilateral fora, and has also supported the efforts of developing countries to access the gains from free trade, consistent with the Marrakesh outcome.

In line with its stance on trade liberalisation, over the past decade, Commonwealth Government policy has shifted away from price-related assistance, towards market-oriented policies. The Government has progressively reduced protection measures and recast the role of statutory industry bodies who now concentrate on research and development activities, market information and promotion services largely funded by growers. Programs have been developed which raise awareness by farmers and rural communities of the nature and extent of the changes that they must make and that encourage them to acquire the skills and information necessary to manage those changes. Programs emphasise that farmers and communities are responsible for the management of their own affairs and must implement practices that are self reliant, ecologically sustainable and economically viable. Farmers support the new policy framework. They have improved their management and financial skills and adopted new technologies and innovative practices. They have become more flexible and better able to adapt to changing market conditions. Productivity has increased, management of the natural resource base has improved, and linkages with other sectors have been strengthened.

In September 1997, the Commonwealth Government announced an integrated rural policy package titled 'Agriculture - Advancing Australia'. The package is a positive and integrated approach by the Government to helping the farm sector and rural and regional communities successfully adapt to change. The package has as its foundation a desire to work with the people of rural and regional Australia to overcome the many challenges facing its rural industries and communities and secure the profitability, sustainability and competitiveness of the farm sector. Substantial opportunities for growth and development are emerging for Australia's rural industries.

The Commonwealth Government is also developing a comprehensive national Action Plan for Australian Agriculture, Food and Fibre, which will set out the vision for agriculture over the next ten years and identify the roles and responsibilities of all players. The Plan will develop closer links between agricultural producers and the processed food and fibre industries, thereby providing a framework for whole-of-chain planning in Australia. This will help guarantee quality along the entire production chain and position producers, consumers and processors to meet the needs of consumers in increasingly 'demand driven' international and domestic markets. As well as whole-of-chain planning the Action Plan will focus on trade and tax reform, rural infrastructure and communication, regulatory and research aspects of the use of gene technology in food.

Arising from a Land Management Task Force report on ways to improve the adoption of property management planning by the farm sector, the Government has undertaken the National Property Management Planning Campaign. The National Property Management Planning Campaign under the National Landcare Program aims to encourage better planning and management skills of individual farmers for all aspects of farm management, to ensure that planning is carried out on a catchment or regional basis, to take into account the needs of all users and the inter-relationships of land, water and vegetation consistent with the principles of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. The Campaign is now well established and in 1999-2000 will be reviewed and evaluated.

Food Security

The need to improve food security at the global, national and individual levels is supported by the Commonwealth Government. Australia continues to pursue policies aimed at supporting the provision of safe and economically accessible food supplies, and to making an effective contribution to the eradication of hunger and malnutrition throughout the world. In particular, the Commonwealth Government, through the Australian aid program and in partnership with developing countries, has contributed to international efforts to improve world food security through:

Responding to Climate Variability

The Commonwealth Government recognises that there are exceptional circumstances, such as severe drought, that are beyond the scope of normal risk management. It has indicated in the Agriculture-Advancing Australia package that to help farming families in exceptional circumstances areas meet their day-to-day needs, an Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payment can be made, equivalent to welfare payments received by those on in other sectors of the economy facing natural disasters.

The Federal, State and Territory Governments have agreed to a National Drought Policy (NDP) aimed at encouraging primary producers and other sections of rural Australia to adopt self-reliant approaches to management for climatic variability, to maintain and protect Australia's agricultural and environmental resource base during periods of extreme climate stress. The Policy also aimed at ensuring early recovery of agricultural and rural industries, consistent with long-term sustainable levels. A Task Force comprising Commonwealth and State/Territory Government representatives reviewed the NDP following the serious impact of drought in 1994 and 1995 on rural businesses, families and communities. The Task Force recommended Revised Objectives for the National Drought Policy. These objectives are:

Australia has begun to implement energy-substitution strategies to reduce CO2 emissions.

A National Greenhouse Strategy developed in response to Australia's responsibilities under the Framework Convention on Climate Change is being implemented. The National Greenhouse Strategy is the primary strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In November 1997 the Prime Minister released a statement, 'Safeguarding the Future: Australia's Response to Climate Change'. The statement was driven by the need to abate the emission of greenhouse gases and increase the percentage of Australia's energy provided by renewable sources.

There are no programs with specific greenhouse objectives, although as indicated elsewhere in this Part, the Commonwealth Government does have a number of programs in sustainable land management, including the Natural Heritage Trust.

The National Greenhouse Strategy outlines measures in sustainable land management, and the recently announced Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program will be looking at deploying policies and programs in this area.

More information is needed regarding the greenhouse effects of various sustainable land management practices in the Australian context. This information is being compiled under the National Carbon Accounting System which will be compiling information on the effects of sustainable land management practices.

Integrated Pest Management and Control in Agriculture

The Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have jointly agreed to a National Strategy for the Management of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals, developed in consultation with a range of interest groups. The Strategy seeks to build awareness and understanding of the current management of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Australia and to encourage co-ordinated efforts towards improving that management. The Strategy aims at achieving best practice management of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, an outcome that is recognised as essential for the ecologically sustainable management of primary industries. The Strategy provides a national framework for addressing a number of priority issues including chemical residues in produce, environmental contamination, worker safety, the management of spraydrift and the safety of food supplies. By addressing these issues the Strategy aims at minimising the risks to health, the environment and to trade; ensuring the long-term sustainability of agricultural production; and contributing to national prosperity.

The Global Integrated Pest Management Facility has not been used, but its application is being considered.

Water for Sustainable Food Production and Sustainable Rural Development

The issues of water quality, regulation and management (including water use efficiency and the quality of water coming out of the manufacturing processes) are clearly becoming increasingly critical to the food processing industry. The Government recognises that access to safe, clean water supplies is essential to achieving sustainable production practices in industry as well as underpinning Australia's international reputation as a reliable supplier of clean, safe and high quality food products.

In view of the wide ranging economic and ecological dimensions of the water industry the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed that action was required to address the unsustainable use of water and accompanying widespread natural resource and environmental degradation. COAG agreed on a series of measures to reform Australia's water industry and to address the economic, environmental and social implications of reform. The fundamental principle underlying the COAG framework is that water use should be both economically viable and ecologically sustainable. The provision of either direct or indirect subsidies, for example to meet community service obligations, should be transparent. The major elements of the reform strategy include pricing based on full cost recovery, determination of water allocations and entitlements and trading for those entitlements, institutional reforms, and the provision of water for the environment. The implementation of this package by State and Territory Governments is critical for both the long-term viability and sustainability of rural industries and the quality of Australia's rural environment and natural resources. The implementation of these reforms also recognises that if land and water problems are not effectively managed then both economic growth and the state of the environment are jeopardised.

Water quality is being addressed through the National Water Quality Management Strategy, which encourages all responsible parties, including governments and the community, to contribute to better water management. The Strategy is based on policies and principles that apply nation wide and includes guidelines and other documents that focus on a part of the water cycle or a particular activity within the cycle (such as rural land uses and water quality). When fully implemented in 2001 the overall set of measures in the framework will safeguard the environment and ensure that the productive capacity of Australia's resource base is maintained.

The sustainable management of artesian water is a critical issue in Australia's arid and semi-arid rangelands. The Commonwealth Government is providing A$31.8 million over five years from 1999-2000 to rehabilitate bores drawing water from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). Resources are being provided to implement the GAB Strategic Management Plan currently being developed by the GAB Consultative Council; a joint council representing and co-ordinating the Commonwealth and State Governments, industry and community natural resource management interests in the Basin. The funding will assist in restoring groundwater pressures in key areas of the GAB to support pastoral enterprises and mining and extractive industries in and around the Basin. The aim of the initiative is to provide capital works required in reducing a high level of water wastage and encouraging changes in institutional arrangements, practices and technology required for sustainable management in the future.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

The administrative arrangements for the Natural Heritage Trust are designed to allow community groups to access ten of the Trust supported programs through a single application and assessment process. Projects for funding are selected on the basis of a single application form, then managed through a single payment schedule and an integrated process for monitoring, reporting and evaluation. This simplifies the process for applicants and ensures that projects can be developed that draw on a number of programs that address a range of issues and activities. The administrative process therefore both encourages community group involvement and the integration and co-ordination of environment and conservation programs.

This is in addition to the continuing major role played by the State Departments of Agriculture, Resource Management and Environmental Protection. These organisations are the major suppliers of 'on the ground' applied information and advice either directly via extension programs or indirectly via landcare groups.

Programmes and Projects   

The following programs support integrated approaches to the planning and management of land resources underpinning agriculture:

The Commonwealth Government is implementing the National Weeds Program and the National Feral Animal Control Program as part of a co-ordinated effort with the State and Territory Governments for the management of feral animals and weeds. The National Weeds Program assists the States and Territories to strategically address a limited number of high priority weed issues. In excess of A$25 million over six years is being provided to this program, working through all levels of government, industry and the community. The Program has three objectives:

National Weeds Program funds may also be available to help facilitate the implementation of appropriate action plans. Funds may also be used to develop new screening arrangements to help reduce the risks of weeds being introduced through imported plant material, and to promote the co-ordination of effort against weeds through a more strategic approach by enhancing community landowner, land manager and land user acceptance of management responsibility for weeds.

The National Feral Animal Control Program has funding of A$16 million over 5 years, working through all levels of government, industry and the community and has three objectives:

Agricultural industry groups are themselves working to develop and implement strategies and management plans for integrated pest management and to reduce the impact of pesticides on the environment. The Australian cotton industry is addressing environmental management through the industry Pest Management Program, an initiative that encourages growers to take individual responsibility for environment protection and farm management. The program includes guidelines for farm management, integrated pest management and application of pesticides. The Cotton Research and Development Corporation, which has as its major objective bringing about a reduction of pesticide use, assists the program. The Sugar Research and Development Corporation and the Grains Research and Development Corporations also support activities that assist their industries to develop and implement strategies and practices to minimise the use of pesticides and fertilisers.

Status 

The Government is committed to microeconomic reform in order to enhance Australia's international competitiveness and to raise living standards and, through improved allocative efficiency, a more sustainable pattern of resource use. The unilateral tariff reductions of recent years have seen the nominal rate of assistance to both the manufacturing and commodities sectors substantially reduced. Australian farm productivity continues to increase through advances in technology and improved farm management. Central to these achievements is the ability of farmers to make appropriate structural adjustments in response to market developments.

The National Rural Finance Summit was held in 1996 to develop a greater appreciation of farm financial issues and identify strategies that will contribute to the long term sustainability, profitability and international competitiveness of the farm sector. The Summit provided the basis for developing a coherent vision for Australian Agriculture with Government, industry, financial institutions and the community working in partnership to achieve a prosperous rural Australia. The Summit emphasised the need to ensure fair and equitable adjustment policies which will help agriculture through periods of adjustment. It acknowledged that arrangements are also needed which assist those in desperate circumstances and those who have no future in the industry to leave farming with dignity, and to support their families while in the process.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Awareness raising of the nature and extent of natural resource degradation, as well as stimulating the development and implementation of more sustainable policies and management systems, is a prime objective of a number of programs for sustainable agriculture and the environment that are funded from the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT). As well as funding the National Landcare Information Service which enables individual landholders to access information relevant to their particular needs, the NHT funds a number of publications designed to inform and raise awareness of landholders and the community more generally.

Under the National Heritage Trust, the National Landcare Program (NLP) raises awareness of farmers and rural communities of the nature and extent of resource degradation and assists them to acquire the skills and information necessary to address degradation that is a common concern. The NLP encourages landholders and land managers to adopt self-reliant, economically viable and ecologically sustainable land management practices. Key issues addressed by the programs include support for improved planning and management through the Property Management Planning Campaign and support for regional plans for land, water and salinity management. The NLP and associated programs for the environment and conservation are largely funded through the NHT.

Information   

There has been important progress in improving the understanding of Australia's natural resource base. Several databases and geographical information systems have been developed and integrated. In addition the National Land and Water Resources Audit now being undertaken over four years as part of the Natural Heritage Trust has the goal of facilitating improved decision making in land and water resources management. The Audit will compile nationally compatible datasets of parameters which provide a measure of the status of Australia's land and water resources, and which over time will identify changes to that status. The Audit provides the opportunity for government agencies, industry and community groups to work closely to establish a framework for long term monitoring and assessment, providing data to support decision making, and for better understanding other relevant initiatives and investments in data gathering and information systems. It is intended that the Audit will provide a more robust natural resource management environment in Australia, in which decisions are made with the benefit of relevant and comprehensive data, with assessments of the likely costs and benefits from environmental, economic and social perspectives, and in the context of Australia's diverse and fragile natural resources.

Australia has a legislative requirement to prepare state of the environment reports every five years, with the next one due in December 2001. Seven reports recommending indicators - for the land, inland waters, biodiversity, estuaries and the sea, the atmosphere, human settlements, and natural and cultural heritage themes - provide a comprehensive set of indicators for the 2001 state of the environment report and form an important basis for development of sustainability indicators (see http://www.environment.gov.au/epcg/soe/soe.html).

Australia is developing indicators to assist in the sustainable management of its natural resources. Based on the Montreal Process, regional forestry agreements incorporate indicators to assist in the sustainable management of Australia's forest resources. The Bureau of Regional Science is also developing a framework of indicators to assist in the sustainable management of Australia's fisheries. The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management is also assisting in the development of indicators for Australia's agricultural industries.

The Australian States of Queensland and New South Wales have trial projects on bagasse conversion to electricity through direct combustion extended to year round generation through the use of natural gas and other fuels. Bagasse is only available for about 6 months of the year and natural gas is used for the remaining 6 months. Trials are shortly to commence in the use of wood waste to generate electricity and linked to bagasse based generation would produce year round electricity generation. Liddell electricity generation (power) station is currently trialing the use of waste biomass material in conjunction with the conventional coal based electricity generation system. The adoption of a mandatory target of sourcing an additional 2 percent of national electricity production from renewable source by 2010 will provide additional impetus to these developments.

Research and Technologies   

Under the authority of the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989 the Commonwealth has established industry based research and development corporations that fund research designed to improve the profitability and ecological sustainability of a number of agricultural and pastoral industries. The Sugar Research and Development Corporation, for example is funding an Environment and Natural Resources Management program that addresses issues of integrated catchment management, the management of fertilisers and pesticides and the management of water tables and soil acidity. In addition the Corporation is supporting the development of industry practices which maintain and/or enhance the economic viability of sugar production and processing and the industry's natural resource base. This includes issues such the development of pest and disease resistant crop strains, integrated pest management and reduced pesticide systems and water conservation measures.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation is also funding programs designed to protect and enhance the environment. Research areas include factors constraining the adoption of conservation farming practices, integrating best practice farm management with catchment management efforts, integrated pest management practices to reduce control costs and pest resistance, the preservation of genetic resources in species of national significance, and sustainable soil and water management practices. The Cotton Research and Development Corporation also has a major objective of improving the quality and protection of the soil, water and riverine environment and enhancing soil productivity and health.

The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have maintained an emphasis on support for rural electricity supply. A recent national initiative, 'Measures for a Better Environment' includes a major expansion of program support for remote rural electricity generation from renewable sources, which is to commence in the year 2000.

The Commonwealth Government is also developing an initiative, in collaboration with local government and non-government organisations, to develop a capacity to identify and implement cost effective energy efficiency measures.

Rural based communities and industries in the past eight years have received electricity generated from the introduction of a limited number of wind and photovoltaic based grid linked electricity generation systems. Examples of specific wind based grid linked electricity generation systems include Esperance in Western Australia and Crookwell in New South Wales. Examples of specific photovoltaic based grid linked electricity generation systems include Singleton and Queanbeyan in New South Wales and Kalbarri in Western Australia.

Stand-alone or grid linked fossil fuel based electricity supplies are readily available throughout rural Australia and depend only on household ability to access/use these services. The current available and projected supply is sufficient to meet current and projected industrial demand in urban as well as rural areas.

Government initiatives, technological developments and associated lower system installation costs have led to a gradual expansion in the number of households in rural areas that obtain electricity supply from wind or photovoltaic renewable energy sources. Current Government initiatives associated with the introduction of the new taxation system will, from 1 July 2000, produce a gradually expanded number of wind, photovoltaic and other renewable energy generation systems. The "Household Greenhouse Action" program and its associated publication can be found on the following web site: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/household/.

A rigorous, efficient and transparent system of regulation for gene technology research and for genetically modified organisms and products is being developed to ensure that human health, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and the environment are safeguarded. For further information please see the Department of Health and Aged Care homepage at http://www.health.gov.au/tga/gmac/links.htm.

Financing   

Land conservation and rehabilitation issues are being dealt with by a number of programs under the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT). The Trust provides funding for the environment of about A$1.5 billion over six years from 1996-97 until June 2002. State and Territory governments provide 'matching' funds and 'on the ground' delivery. The Trust recognises the urgent need for action to address current degradation, and prevent the further decline in the quality of Australia's natural environment. The main objective of the Trust - to conserve, repair and replenish Australia's capital infrastructure - is directly relevant to the core objectives of ecologically sustainable development. The principles of ecologically sustainable development are embedded in the enabling legislation of the Trust. The Trust also recognises the need for the Commonwealth to provide national leadership and work co-operatively with other levels of government and the whole community.

The objectives of the Trust are to:

A substantial proportion of Trust funds is devoted to programs to support sustainable land management. The Trust provides funding for programs and initiatives including the Murray-Darling Basin Initiative, the National Landcare Program, the National Land and Water Resources Audit, the National Reserve System, the Great Artesian Basin Initiative, the National Feral Animal Control Strategy, the National Weeds Strategy, National Vegetation Programs, and the Endangered Species Program.

The Natural Heritage Trust is providing funding of A$1.5 billion over six years from 1996-97 for a number of programs for sustainable agriculture and the environment, including:

These Commonwealth funds are exceeded by State and Territory expenditure and by the investments of landholders themselves.

Trust programs promote regional approaches to project development based on co-operative Partnership Agreements between the Commonwealth and the State/Territory Governments, and involving local government. These agreements encompass the range of activities funded through the NHT and accommodate all relevant Government agencies. The agreements ensure that State and Territory policies and guidelines for environmental protection and sustainable development are consistent with national standards and priorities. In addition, as part of the agreements the Commonwealth seeks complementary and consistent State and Territory regulatory and administrative arrangements.

The most effective scale for the issues addressed by the Trust is usually regional, and funding priority is attached to projects that are an integral part of a regional strategy or plan. A network of Trust facilitators has been established to encourage co-ordination and integration of Trust activities for particular programs (such as Landcare) or interested parties (such as local government or indigenous groups).

Cooperation  

Australia's agricultural environments, including tropical and dryland environments, are similar to many developing countries. Despite the challenges which agriculture and rural development present, this is an area where Australia has comparative advantage, with a wide range of relevant agricultural expertise. Under Australia's bilateral aid programs, about A$40 million is spent each year on agricultural production and services, agricultural storage and land survey and conservation. Another A$10 million is spent on forestry activities and A$5 million on fisheries. About A$40 million is spent annually on international agricultural research under the aid program. There are two main ways in which these funds are used: through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and through the international agricultural research centres such as the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

ACIAR promotes collaborative research among Australian scientists and their developing country counterparts on key aspects of sustainable agriculture including: better land, forest and water management; improved animal husbandry and health; improved management of coastal and marine ecosystems; more effective agronomic practices; minimization of toxic chemical inputs; and socio-economic aspects of sustainable natural resource development and management.

Many of AusAID's activities in other sectors contribute to rural development and poverty alleviation. These include activities in health and education, water resources, transport and communication infrastructure, good governance and micro-enterprise. Support for programs that directly benefit women and girls are also vital for increased agricultural production. These related activities are estimated to involve expenditure of well over $100 million per year.

In addition, the Commonwealth Government continues to pursue policies in line with the commitments it made during the World Food Summit to enhance global food security. Australia was a participant in the negotiation of the 1999 Food Aid Convention, which provides for a minimum food aid package of 4.9 million tonnes of grain from member countries. Under the Convention members will give priority in the allocation of food aid to Least-Developed Countries and Low-Income Countries, many of which are on the WTO list of Net Food-Importing Developing Countries. The Convention also maintains a mechanism for assisting in implementing the 1996 World Food Summit commitment to achieve food security for all and an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger. Australia's annual commitment under the Convention is 250 000 tonnes of grain (wheat equivalent).

* * * 

This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th, 6th, and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1999.

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ATMOSPHERE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage (Environment Australia – http://www.environment.gov.au) is responsible for the development of national policies and programs relating to environment protection (including atmosphere), but there are a range of other portfolios and agencies that also make decisions relating to the atmosphere, including:

Environment Australia has primary responsibility for implementing Australia's obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, its Adjustments and Amendments.  This responsibility is discharged through its: administration and enforcement of the Ozone Protection Act 1989; development and implementation of national strategies to phase out ozone depleting substances (ODS); and representation of Australia at Montreal Protocol fora. 

The Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO – http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/) was established in 1998 to drive the Australian Government’s greenhouse agenda. It is a separate agency located within the Commonwealth environment and heritage portfolio, and reports to the Ministerial Council on Greenhouse.  The AGO is the world’s first  dedicated greenhouse organisation. It is responsible for coordination of domestic climate change policy, providing a whole of government approach to greenhouse matters.  The AGO also coordinates delivery of Commonwealth greenhouse response programs, and provides a central point of contact for stakeholder groups.

State and Territory government environment agencies also exercise some decision-making powers relating to protection of the atmosphere.

Ministerial level

Coordination of environment protection is undertaken by two key bodies:

·         the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC – http://www.environment.gov.au/anzecc/), comprising environment Ministers from the Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory and New Zealand governments; and

·         the National Environment Protection Council, a statutory body with law making powers.  It comprises Ministers (though not necessarily environment Ministers) appointed from the participating Federal or State/Territory jurisdictions.

Greenhouse matters are the responsibility of the Ministerial Council on Greenhouse, which is chaired by the Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Heritage.  The Ministerial Council also comprises the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Minister for Finance and Administration. The Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Transport and Regional Services, may be co-opted to the Council as appropriate.

Commonwealth/State departmental level

The Ozone Protection Consultative Committee (OPCC) is ANZECC's forum for facilitating a national approach to ozone protection.  The OPCC's mandate and composition are currently under review but, to date, it has comprised representatives from Commonwealth, State and Territory environment agencies, industry, community and conservation groups.

The Federal Government has established the Air Managers Forum, comprising air quality managers from each of the national and state/territory governments.

The High Level Group on Greenhouse comprises of high level officials from Commonwealth State and Territory Governments responsible for implementing measures under the National Greenhouse Strategy.

Commonwealth departmental level

Environment Australia coordinates interdepartmental development and implementation of Australia's atmospheric protection policies and programs.  It employs both formal mechanisms (e.g. interdepartmental committees) and informal consultative mechanisms (officer to officer consultation) in fulfilling this role.

The Secretaries’ Committee on Greenhouse, chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Heritage, supports the Ministerial Council on Greenhouse.  Other members include: the Secretary of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources; the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; the Chief Executive of the Australian Greenhouse Office; the Ambassador for the Environment; and a senior official from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Environmental responsibilities and powers are not specified or ascribed to governments under the Australian Constitution.  Each level of government in Australia is responsible for particular aspects of environmental protection, including protection of the atmosphere. 

Local Government systems have been established under State and Territory Government legislation.   Local Government environmental responsibilities vary depending on the State/Territory jurisdiction, but include activities such as land use planning and management,  infrastructure and service provision.  Air quality monitoring and control functions form a substantial element of Local Government environmental responsibilities.  Environment issues often transcend government boundaries and are to be addressed on a local, regional and national basis.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

National Regulations

National ambient air quality standards provide the basis for management of air pollution in Australia.  These standards are set out in a policy instrument entitled the ‘National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality (1998)’, devised by the National Environment Protection Council on 26 June 1998.  The Ambient Air Quality NEPM provides standards for the six criteria air pollutants to which most Australians are exposed (see Table 1).  Participating jurisdictions (i.e. all Australian States and Territories) must meet the standards (or even stricter limits), establish monitoring procedures, and commence assessment and reporting in accordance with the protocols of the Ambient Air Quality NEPM.

Table 1.  NEPM Air Quality Standards and Goal

Pollutant

 

Averaging

period

 

Maximum

concentration

 

Goal within

10 years -

Maximum allowable exceedences

Carbon monoxide

8 hours

9.0 ppm

1 day a year

Nitrogen dioxide

 

1 hour

1 year

0.12 ppm

0.03 ppm

1 day a year

none

Photochemical

oxidants (as ozone)

1 hour

4 hours

0.10 ppm

0.08 ppm

1 day a year

1 day a year

Sulfur dioxide

 

1 hour

1 day

1 year

0.20 ppm

0.08 ppm

0.02 ppm

1 day a year

1 day a year

none

Lead

1 year

0.50 µg/m3

none

Particles as PM10 

1 day

50 µg/m3

5 days a year

Further information on the Ambient Air Quality NEPM is available at http://www.nepc.gov.au.

A National Environment Protection Measure for air toxics is currently being considered.

State/Territory Regulations

State and Territory Governments implement the national ambient air standards, regulate emissions of pollutants into the air, and manage other air quality issues through there own environment protection and planning legislation.  Some jurisdictions enforce standards higher than national standards set out in the Ambient Air NEPM.  The Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand has summarised the air pollution prevention regulations in each State/Territory as of October 2000.  This summary is available from: www.ozemail.com.au/~mainpage/publicat/pub_main.htm.

State and Territory environmental protection legislation can be found via the following Internet sites:

NSW:  http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/index.asp

QLD:  http://www.env.qld.gov.au/environment/environment/air/

WA:  http://www.environ.wa.gov.au/DEP/aqm/

ACT:  http://www.act.gov.au/environ/air.html

NT:  http://www.lpe.nt.gov.au/default.htm

SA:  http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/epa/noise.html

TAS:  http://www.dpiwe.tas.gov.au/

VIC:  http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/aq/

Australia introduced the National Fuel Quality Standards Act in 2000.  Under this legislation, fuel quality standards will be introduced from 2002 as follows:

          Euro2 equivalent petrol in 2002 and Euro 3 equivalent petrol in 2005

          Euro2 equivalent diesel in 2002 and Euro 3 equivalent diesel in 2006 (with the exception of the sulfur level in diesel which will be Euro 4 level of 50 ppm).

The Commonwealth has passed the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 to limit pollution from motor vehicles. 

Under the Montreal Protocol, Australia is obligated to eliminate ozone depleting substances (ODS).  This is being addressed through Australia's Ozone Protection Strategy and complementary legislation and controls enacted by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

Environment Australia administers and enforces the Commonwealth's Ozone Protection Act 1989 (the Act - see web-site http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/ozone/opandg.html).  It controls the import, export and manufacture of bulk ODS through a licence and quota system, and the import and manufacture of products containing specific ODS, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halon.  The original Act phased out Australia's consumption (production + import - export) of the ODS CFCs, methyl chloroform (MCL) and carbon tetrachloride (CTC) by 31 December 1995, and halon consumption by 31 December 1992. 

Amendments to the Act have restricted import, export and manufacture of CFCs, MCL and CTC to a very limited range of essential uses agreed under the Montreal Protocol.  Import, export and manufacture of HCFCs and methyl bromide is now also subject to the licensing and quota system, which phases out these ODS in line with Protocol obligations.  Australia does not currently manufacture ODS, and HCFC consumption is approximately half the level allowed under the Protocol.

State and Territory governments control the sale, use, handling and distribution of ODS through various means.  These include: licensing ODS transactions; mandatory training and accreditation of ODS equipment service personnel; mandatory recovery and return of ODS; and mandatory decommissioning of portable and fixed halon systems, except where grounds for essential use apply. The Generator Efficiency Standards (GES) program encourages best practice performance for generators using fossil fuels. 

The Australian Government’s renewable energy target seeks to increase the renewable energy contribution to Australia’s electricity mix to 9,500 GWh by 2010.   

There is limited use of financial incentives to achieve air quality objectives in Australia.  The national introduction of a one cent per litre (later increased to two cents per litre) price differential between leaded and unleaded petrol, in 1994, led to a significant increase in use of unleaded petrol.  At the State/Territory level, some governments employ a load-based licensing approach to controlling emissions from industry.  This system is based on the polluter pays principle, linking licence conditions and fees to a facility’s level of emissions. Under the Measures for a Better Environment Statement (see web-site http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/measures/index.html, or see question 7 of this Part), Australia will investigate the effect of a low sulfur excise differential on diesel fuel of 1 cent from 2003 and 2 cents from 2004.

Financial regulatory disincentives

Australian companies trading in ozone depleting substances (ODS) must comply with Commonwealth regulatory requirements, including payment of licence and activity fees.  The Commonwealth's Ozone Protection Act imposes fees on ODS import and manufacture.  Licence fees range from $2,000 to $10,000, while activity fees are charged per metric tonne of methyl bromide imported or manufactured (A$90/metric tonne), and per ozone depleting tonne (ODPT = the volume of ODS used multiplied by its capacity to damage the ozone layer) of HCFC imported or manufactured (A$2000/ODPT).  These fees are a means of administrative cost recovery, and a source of funding for HCFC and methyl bromide phase out programs.

Financial regulatory/market-based disincentives

The Act's licensing and quota system limits the total volume of ODS that can be imported or manufactured.  To import or manufacture HCFCs, companies must hold both a licence and a quota.  While companies deemed 'fit and proper' are eligible for a licence, quotas are based on previous market activity.  Prospective new HCFC market entrants must seek a quota or portion thereof from an incumbent quota holder.  The price of such transfers is determined by the market.  Future international trade in greenhouse emissions permits and credits is possible under the Kyoto Protocol.  The Commonwealth Government is considering the establishment of a national emissions trading system.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

There is no single strategy covering the range of atmospheric protection issues. Rather, there are separate policy documents and initiatives for each area (ie greenhouse, ozone, air pollution).  Australia has developed a multi-faceted national strategy addressing greenhouse issues, underpinned by Federal Government funding of almost $1 billion over 5 years.  This is one of the highest per capita public investments in greenhouse in the world.

The National Greenhouse Strategy, which was released in November 1998, has been developed between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.  The Australian Local Government Association, industry and community groups also contributed to development of the Strategy.

The goals of the Strategy are:

Key sectors covered by the National Greenhouse Strategy include energy, transport, industry, waste, agriculture and vegetation, and households.  The strategy details both existing actions and additional measures.  A copy of the National Greenhouse Strategy is available electronically at: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/policy/

Carbon Sequestration

Policies and actions promoting sustainable agriculture and land use, and enhanced natural resource management, have been in place in Australia for some time.  Module 6 of the National Greenhouse Strategy describes and builds on these.  Major current activities are described below.

Bushcare: The National Vegetation Initiative

This initiative aims to conserve biodiversity and contribute to the ecologically sustainable management of natural resources.  Bushcare (http://www.environment.gov.au/bg/bushcare/) is a component of the $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust (http://www.nht.gov.au/index.html) and provides a ten fold increase in on-ground funding for vegetation programs.  Other relevant components of the Natural Heritage Trust include the National Landcare Program (http://www.landcareaustralia.com.au/), the National Rivercare (http://www.rivercare.gov.au) Program and the Farm Forestry Program (http://www.affa.gov.au/docs/forestry/farm_forestry/farm_forestry_toc.html).

Natural Resource Management: National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality in Australia

Synergies between salinity mitigation and greenhouse will be recognised in implementing the Action Plan. 

Plantations for Australia: the 2020 Vision

This strategy, launched in 1997, aims to increase the rate of plantation expansion in Australia to an average of 80,000 hectares of plantation forest a year, or a total of two million hectares by 2020 through government and industry collaboration.  For further information, see web-site address http://www.affa.gov.au/docs/forestry/plantations/2020.html

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agricultural management practices, which deliver reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions, are being promoted through a range of programs including through the Greenhouse Challenge, existing extension services, Landcare (http://www.landcareaustralia.com.au/), adult learning processes, the Internet and other information sources for rural and regional Australia.

Sustainable Forestry

The National Forest Policy Statement (http://www.rfa.gov.au/rfa/national/nfps/index.html) and the Regional Forest Agreement process (http://www.rfa.gov.au/) are the main mechanisms in place to ensure sustainable management of forests.  Private forest owners will be encouraged to manage private forests on a sustainable basis through basic inventory and monitoring and application of Codes of Practice.  Education and extension programs are currently being developed to increase greenhouse awareness among private forest growers.

Ozone Protection

Australia’s Strategy for Ozone Protection (http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/ozone/opstrat.htm), developed in 1989, was subsequently revised in 1994 by two ANZECC bodies: the Ozone Protection Working Group (OPWG - since dissolved), comprising relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory government representatives; and the Ozone Protection Consultative Committee (OPCC), comprising government, industry, community and conservation groups.

While implementation of the Strategy’s recommendations was not mandatory, the majority have been implemented through the complementary Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation described above, and a number of industry initiatives.

Industry initiatives include: the development of Codes of Practice to minimise ODS emissions during the servicing, repair and decommissioning of ODS equipment; and establishment of Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA), a program for the responsible recovery, reclamation and destruction of ozone depleting refrigerants.

Environment Australia, in consultation with key industry, government and community stakeholders, has also developed ODS-specific strategies.  These are Australia's National Halon Management Strategy (http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/ozone/hms.htm) and the National Methyl Bromide Response Strategy: Part 1 Horticultural Uses (http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/ozone/downloads/mebrhorticulturalstrategydownload.htm).  Consultation on the development of Australia's strategy to phase out quarantine and pre-shipment uses of methyl bromide has commenced.

Measures for a Better Environment

A number of initiatives with respect to the improved management of transport emissions and greenhouse gases were announced by the Commonwealth Government as part of the New Tax System for Australia.  These initiatives are described as the Measures for a Better Environment (see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/measures/index.html). 

These initiatives include development of a National Environment Protection Measure for Diesel Emissions and in-service testing facilities for diesel and petrol vehicles. 

Greenhouse gas emissions and sinks

Australia’s objectives and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing sinks are described in the National Greenhouse Strategy. 

Ozone Depletion

Short term (2-3 years)

Long term (5-10 years)

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Consultation on greenhouse and air quality policy occurs across a broad range of stakeholder groups including community members, business and industry.  Non-government organisations (NGOs), business and industry, the scientific community and farmers are also involved in the ozone protection decision-making process.  They have advisory roles and a number have also participated in the Australian delegation to international ozone fora as observers.

Major policy initiatives generally include public distribution of discussion papers, inviting comments that are taken into account for further policy and program development.  These initiatives also often involve extensive face-to-face consultation with non-government organisations, business, industry, scientific and technological communities.

Their participation in decision making is ensured through the following formal consultative mechanisms:

Consultative mechanism

Scope

Membership

Ozone Protection Consultative Committee

(see reply to question 2)

International and domestic ozone issues

NGOs, business and industry, scientific community

Methyl Bromide Consultative Group

International & domestic methyl bromide issues

NGOs, business and industry, scientific community, farmers

National Halon Essential Uses Panel

Assesses applications for halon essential use status

Business and industry, scientific community, trade union

Ozone Protection Reserve Advisory Committee 

(see reply to question 11)

Assesses applications for Reserve grants

Business and industry, scientific community

CFC-free MDI stakeholder group

International & domestic CFC MDI transition issues

Business and industry, scientific community

National Dialogue on Greenhouse

International and domestic response to global warming

Business and industry

Transport Emissions Liaison Group

 

Domestic vehicle emissions issues.

 

Industry, government and NGOs

National Environment Consultative Forum

 

International and domestic response to a broad range of environmental issues including global warming and atmospheric protection

NGOs

Programmes and Projects   

The current mix of programs to mitigate climate change includes voluntary, regulatory and market based approaches.  A number of key elements are:

Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program

The Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program (GGAP – see web-site http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/ggap/index.html) is a major part of the Australian Government’s efforts to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The GGAP supports activities promoting substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions and sink enhancement, particularly during the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012). The Program has been allocated $400 million for the period 2000-2001 to 2003-2004. GGAP funds projects delivering large-scale, cost-effective and long-term reductions in Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions, across all relevant sectors. Funding commenced in July 2000.

GGAP employs competitive bidding to fund projects for large-scale, cost-effective, sustained abatement. Four program themes have been identified: technology deployment; regional greenhouse partnerships; built environment and infrastructure; and greenhouse abatement facilitation. Transport projects will be considered under the technology deployment and built environment and infrastructure themes.

GGAP funding will be considered for tree planting as part of the regional greenhouse partnerships theme, in circumstances where tree planting is not the primary objective and is part of a broader approach to greenhouse gas abatement involving, for example the development of biomass energy or bio-fuels.  GGAP funding will also be considered for broad scale revegetation projects that meet other eligibility and merit criteria, such as large scale abatement, and make substantial contributions to high-priority natural resource management outcomes, such as the mitigation of dry-land salinity.

Renewable Energy Support

To encourage the uptake of renewable energy, the Australian Government is providing almost $400 million over five years for programs supporting the commercialisation and application of renewable energy technologies, and to support development of Australia's renewable energy industry.

Greenhouse Challenge Program

The Greenhouse Challenge Program, initiated in 1995, seeks to assist Australian industry reduce greenhouse emissions, and enhance greenhouse gas sinks. The program promotes partnerships between the Commonwealth and individual enterprises. Under the program, industry has primary responsibility for developing greenhouse gas abatement plans, and reporting progress in implementing them. The Commonwealth’s role is to: promote the program; support development and implementation of cooperative agreements; remove impediments to improved greenhouse gas performance by industry; and evaluate and report on the program's performance.

To date, over 400 agreements have been made. The program has resulted in industry partners abating upwards of 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Reductions have been achieved by investments in new technology, process and energy efficiency improvements, fuel switching and the capture of fugitive emissions.  For further information, see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/challenge/)

Bush for Greenhouse Program

The Bush for Greenhouse Program (http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/pubs/factsheets/fs_bush.html) is a new initiative to leverage corporate sector interest in carbon sequestration to fund revegetation projects.  A Carbon Broker has been appointed to facilitate business investment in replanting activities and manage the resulting carbon pool.  Investors in Bush for Greenhouse can claim carbon offsets under the Greenhouse Challenge program.  Further details of activities to enhance greenhouse sinks and sustainable land management are available on the web-site http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/sinks/.  See web-site http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/ncas/

Programs are already underway in the textile, hospital and hotel sectors with several more being developed for implementation in 1998. As part of the Prime Minister's package of further greenhouse actions announced in November 1997 extra funding of $27 million will be provided to extend the program to smaller companies and to increase the number of large and medium companies to 500 by the year 2000 and to more than 1000 companies by 2005.

Climate Change Research

Australia carries out significant research relating to all aspects of air quality, including:

This work is undertaken by agencies at many levels, including governments, research institutes, universities and the private sector.

Australia has committed some $100 million up to 2003/4, to improve our understanding of greenhouse science.  This will be the responsibility of two primary agencies, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO – http://www.csiro.au/) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM – http://www.bom.gov.au/).  CSIRO is Australia's largest single exponent of atmospheric and greenhouse-related research.  Areas of research include the nature and science of climate change, options for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, sink-related matters, and climate change impacts and adaptation.  The Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre works to improve our understanding of, and ability to predict, weather and climate. It also undertakes greenhouse research, contributing to the scientific assessment of climate change. 

In August 2000, the Australian Government announced additional grants totalling $600,000 for 57 Antarctic research projects, involving universities and government research agencies throughout Australia.  A primary focus of this latest research effort will be air, ice and rock studies contributing to a better understanding of climate change. Australia's research in Antarctica provides vital baseline information on the Earth's climate.

Further information on the aforementioned programs is available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/library/pubs/budget/budget2000/ebs/activities/greenhouse.html

Clear the Air – Natural Heritage Trust Projects to Improve Urban Air Quality

The Commonwealth Government commissioned the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering to conduct an independent Inquiry into Urban Air Pollution, funded under the Air Pollution in Major Cities Program (http://www.nht.gov.au/programs/airqual.html).  Clear the Air is the first step in the Commonwealth’s response to the recommendations of the Inquiry and includes a number of projects for national action in five key areas: transport; industry; residential; air quality monitoring; and coordination.  Ongoing projects address the priority areas of transport and wood-smoke emissions, and the impacts of particulate emissions.

Further information on Clear the Air projects is available at www.environment.gov.au/epg/air_water.html.

BOM operates an observational program mapping long-term changes in the abundance and distribution of ozone in the atmosphere above Australia.  Components of the program commenced as far back as the late-1950s. The program employs ground based, balloon and satellite borne instrumentation, as well as five observing stations based at Macquarie Island, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Darwin. 

CSIRO Atmospheric Research (CAR, Aspendale) operates a program to measure the accumulation and removal of ODS in the Australian atmosphere.  The key observing station is at Cape Grim, Tasmania, and is part of a global network of stations tracking ODS.  Species measured include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs, halons, chlorinated solvents and methyl bromide.

BoM has recently added UV forecasting to the products it makes available to the Australian public. 

In addition to the measures described above, revenue from licence application and activity fees is deposited into the Ozone Protection Reserve.  The Reserve funds government and industry initiatives to facilitate HCFC and methyl bromide phase out.  These include:

Status   

The Commonwealth's Ozone Protection Legislation was revised in 1995 bringing in a new set of controls on all ozone depleting substances from 1 January 1996. Australia phased out its consumption of CFCs, methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride by 31 December 1995, but does allow import of these substances for a strictly limited range of essential uses permitted under the Montreal Protocol (such as metered dose inhalers and laboratory uses). Halon consumption was phased out by 31 December 1994, one year ahead of the requirements of the Protocol. Consumption of HCFCs and methyl bromide will be phased out gradually over the next 10-20 years in line with Protocol obligations.

Considerable attention has been directed towards the improved understanding and management of urban airsheds with significant studies addressing regional air pollution in NSW, Western Australia, south-east Queensland and Tasmania. Lead emissions continue to fall in urban areas with the increased use of unleaded petrol and the reduction of lead levels within leaded petrol. Oil industry forecasts suggest that leaded petrol will cease to be available in Australia by between 2002 and 2007.

Australia's proximity to the area of greatest ozone depletion, outdoor lifestyle, and dependence upon trade and agriculture make it particularly susceptible to changes in the ozone layer.

It is difficult to quantify the impact of ozone depletion on human health, settlements, ecosystems, and economic activities.  However, it is possible to estimate the net benefits of implementing actions to combat ozone depletion under the Ozone Protection Act.

Below is a preliminary independent cost/benefit analysis of the Act's operation 1989 – 2060, which was developed for the current review of the Act.

Benefits and Costs of Commonwealth Ozone Protection Legislation

Australia, 1989-2060, (A$ million  -  1996 prices and present value 5% discount rate)*

 

Benefits

 

Costs

 

Net Benefit

 

Fisheries

Agric.

Material

Health

Total Benefits

 

Total

 

544

 

 

4,084

 

 

496

 

 

2,289

 

 

7,413

 

 

1,042

 

6,371

Measuring the impact of air pollution on health, biodiversity, buildings and materials, and reduction in amenity has proven very difficult.  Lack of data has hindered efforts to identify and monetise all the benefits arising from the introduction of national ambient air standards.  Estimates were made of health impacts relating to each of the specific pollutants and these are contained in the Revised Impact Statement for the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure (see web-site address http://www.nepc.gov.au/).

Australia is vulnerable to changes in temperature and rainfall predicted for the next 50 to 100 years.  This is because Australia has large areas of arid and semi-arid areas and lies largely in the tropics and sub-tropics.  Increased evaporation and possible decreases in rainfall in many parts of Australia could adversely affect water supply, agriculture and the survival and reproduction of key species in some regions.

Climate change will affect human settlements and industry due to changes in both mean climate and changes to the frequency and intensity of extreme events.  For example, the movement of tropical cyclones further south into areas where infrastructure is not designed to cope with them could have significant consequences.

Australia's net greenhouse gas emissions for 1998, not including emissions from land clearing, were 455.9 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalents (Mt CO2-e), compared with 433.2 Mt in 1997 and 389.8 Mt in 1990. This represents a 5.2% increase since 1997 and a 16.9% increase during the period 1990 to 1998. Land clearing emissions are excluded as emissions estimates for this sub-sector have high uncertainties.

CONSUMPTION OF OZONE DEPLETING SUBSTANCES IN AUSTRALIA: 1994-1999

 

Consumption* (metric tonnes)

Substance

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

CFCs

3954.165

2839.177

252.592

183.94

195.10

274.150

Halons

        0

        0

0

0

0

0

Methyl chloroform**

  2272.61

    846.44

0.145

0.104

0.048

0.051

Carbon tetrachloride

        0.68

        0.16

0.39

0.469

0.22

0.0074

HCFCs

  1755.47

2337.733

3439.93

3671.29

3849.95

3890.77

HBFCs

        0

        0

0

0

0

0

Methyl bromide

      n/a

    664.37

630.84

678.907

569.501

505.519

* Consumption = (production + import) less export

** Includes carbon tetrachloride for 1991 and 1992

Challenges  

In 1997, the Australian Government commissioned an Inquiry into Urban Air Pollution in Australia.  The Inquiry examined the current state of urban airsheds and likely future outcomes to 2011.  The Inquiry also determined the need for, and proposes actions to maintain or improve air quality.  Six pollutants were targeted; lead, oxides of sulfur (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), particulates and photochemical oxidants (as ozone) including ozone precursors (volatile organic compounds - VOCs).

The Inquiry found that, in general, air quality in all the major Australian capital cities is relatively good, particularly when compared to cities overseas.  Problems do, however, occur from time to time.  Each capital suffers conditions that trap or circulate the air mass over urban areas during periods of high sunlight intensity or winter inversions. During these weather events, levels of smog or airborne particulates may approach or exceed air quality standards.  Such events can be exacerbated by the occurrence of bushfires or hazard reduction burning.  Analysis of major airshed weather patterns indicates that all capitals have between 20 and 40 "pollution conducive" days per year and that the underlying day long concentrations of ozone and other smog components can be substantial on these days, even when exceedences do not occur.

Unless there is a smelter or processing plant in or near the airshed, airborne lead is no longer a serious concern in Australian cities. Similarly, oxides of sulfur do not present difficulties in most urban airsheds.  Carbon monoxide emissions to the total airshed have been greatly reduced and are mainly a local issue associated with heavily trafficked corridors, local industry and winter wood burning in predominantly southern areas.

The main areas of concern, now and for the future, relate to particulates, oxides of nitrogen and other smog precursors such as hydrocarbons.  For more information, see web-site address http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/airquality/urban-air/index.html

Urban air quality

In general, the concentrations of the common air pollutants are low by world standards and meet national air quality standards.  Major pollution problems in Australian cities are episodic rather than continuous, being heavily influenced by seasonal and meteorological factors.

There is little evidence of urban air pollution problems arising from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide or lead.  Present trends also indicate that carbon monoxide is unlikely to be of concern in the future due to the use of vehicle pollution control technologies. There continue to be ozone episodes in Sydney and Melbourne, but as older motor vehicles are phased out and replaced by newer vehicles subject to more stringent emission controls, these should become more infrequent.

Airborne particle pollution can reach levels of concern in some urban areas due to the use of domestic wood-heaters and vehicles.  Sources can also include pollen, sea salt and silica from soil.  New vehicle and fuel quality standards to address particle emissions from diesel vehicles are in hand, and wood-smoke from wood-heaters is subject to a range of management strategies.

Regional air quality

Air quality in rural and regional Australia is generally excellent, certainly by comparison with any of the major cities or cities abroad. Air pollution issues can arise however, due to windblown dust from mining and agricultural activities, pollution from industrial activities, smoke from natural fires and indigenous/prescribed burning practices, and agricultural sprays.

The combination of low rainfall and strong winds can lead to high regional air pollution such as windblown dust.  High temperatures can result in bushfires that in turn can cause high levels of pollution such as particles, nitrogen oxides, ozone and other gases.

One of the most important pollutants in a small number of locations has been sulfur dioxide - closely identified with the processing of metalliferous ores.  However, despite a substantial increase in mineral processing, emissions of sulfur dioxide have reduced by a third over the past five years or so due to the adoption of technologies to convert sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid instead of emitting it to the atmosphere. In addition, acid deposition, a concomitant of sulfur dioxide emissions, is low.

The most important air quality issue in rural and regional Australia is management of airborne particles. Sources of particles include domestic wood-heaters (especially in the cooler southern regions during winter), mining activities, and smoke from bushfires or prescribed (fuel reduction) burnings.  Smoke from the latter activity can drift into major urban airsheds and under certain weather conditions can reduce visibility for several days.

It is unclear whether emissions from major urban areas are contributing to ozone levels in regional and rural Australia.  Some early modelling results are showing the prevalence of such events in Victoria and eastern New South Wales .  Australia faces a range of factors which can be problematic for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  These factors include:

Further detail can be found in Chapter Two of Australia’s Second National Report under the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change at web-site address http://www.unfccc.de/resource/docs/natc/ausnc2.pdf

Australia has a range of initiatives in place to increase greenhouse gas sinks.  Key actions for achieving a net increase in sinks include retention of existing native vegetation, revegetation and establishment of forests.  Problems include lack of financial incentives to revegetate or establish plantations on land currently used for other purposes, and the need for further development of tree species and management techniques suited to land not currently considered commercially viable for plantation establishment.  There is substantial progress in addressing these problems through a range of programs and mechanisms.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

A range of community education activities relating to air quality are undertaken by government, industry and non-government organisations.  The key programs at the national level are: 

Further information on these programs can be found at web-site address http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/airquality/index.html

A “State of Knowledge Report on Air Toxics and Indoor Air Quality – in Australia” is currently being finalised.  It will aim to raise community awareness and establish a common baseline understanding of air toxics and indoor air quality issues.  A community access summary is also being finalised.  These documents will be widely available in printed and electronic formats.  A communication strategy is being developed under the Living CitiesAir Toxics Program in consultation with government, industry and community stakeholders, to raise community awareness about the program and associated issues and activities.  For further information see http://www.environment.gov.au/airtoxics.

Environment Australia is undertaking the following activities to promote public awareness of protection of the atmosphere:

These measures form part of Environment Australia’s Ozone Protection Publicity and Education Strategy.  In May 2000, Australia conducted a comprehensive education sector review covering:

·        State and Territory-based curriculum structures, resources, and teacher training courses, relating to promoting knowledge of ozone depletion issues; and

·        opportunities in target markets for the development of teaching media on matters relating to ozone depletion issues.

The results of the review are currently being considered. 

Strategic communications conducted by the Australian Greenhouse Office include:

-         market research to ascertain community awareness of greenhouse issues and likely motivators for behavioural change;

-         public information campaigns (currently being developed), utilising national print and electronic media advertising;

-         dissemination of promotional information materials, including regular newsletters, fact sheets, general community publications (eg. Global Warming Cool It), technical reports, brochures and posters;

-         electronic communications, including a comprehensive web-site linked to a call centre; and

-         greenhouse education via dissemination of information through community groups.

Greenhouse education is picked up in State/Territory curricula through subjects such as environmental studies, society and environment studies, science and geography. The Australian Greenhouse Office has provided input into these curricula by:

-         working with States and Territories to develop a national greenhouse education framework;

-         funding development of materials supporting the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Trust’s Greenhouse Action Program, which is targeted at primary and secondary schools in NSW;

-         supporting development of energy and biodiversity curriculum materials, which will be used for environmental science lessons in Victorian secondary schools;

-         working with CSIRO to deliver greenhouse education pages in the Scientriffic magazine, which targets 8 to 12-year-olds throughout Australia; and

-         supporting the University of NSW’s Solarch Sustainable Living Program, which conducts an annual secondary school competition focused on energy conservation and greenhouse issues.

The CSIRO’s Cape Grim program has introduced new measurement technologies and skills through a post-doctoral recruitment program.  It has also assisted training and capacity building efforts through participation in tertiary educational programs involving various Australian universities.  The program will be expanded in the next 2 years to measure additional Kyoto synthetics, such as perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride, and to assess the role that the oceans play in the global source of methyl bromide.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) have recently undertaken UV forecasting.  Governments at all levels are enhancing their air quality data capacity through information collection and reporting processes relevant to national air quality standards.  For further information, see the Final Impact Statement for the National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality at http://www.nepc.gov.au/.

Information   

A study titled "Urban Air Pollution in Australia" was carried out by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and released by the Minister for the Environment on 14 November 1997. The report concentrates on actions to maintain or improve air quality in Australia's urban centers. It is supported by eight detailed reports, which give much information on the deliberations of the various task groups carrying out the study. Public consultation was maintained during the inquiry via a community advisory group and a call for public submissions. The Commonwealth Government of Australia is currently conducting a series of community workshops in urban areas to assist in formulating its response to the recommendations.

There is a wide range of research activities within Australia addressing climate change. Global climate models are extending the understanding of climate processes with recently developed coupled atmosphere-ocean models used to simulate climate change associated with a steady increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. Investigation on climate change impacts and adaptation has focussed on policy relevant research, enabling it to contribute to national policies on climate change and the environment. Investigations undertaken as a result of impacts funding have covered coasts, agriculture and rangelands, native ecosystems, the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomenon, and human health.

Australia undertakes a significant atmospheric observational program. An essential element in the detection and monitoring of climate change is the measurement of atmospheric trace gases, including greenhouse gases and aerosols, and ozone depleting substances at the Baseline Air Pollution Station and is complemented by the systematic observation of conventional meteorological parameters (including solar radiation) and the establishment of a set of Reference Climate Stations to detect changes in climate.  A first comprehensive National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 1988 and 1990 was published in 1994. Inventories for the period 1988-1994, using an updated methodology, were compiled and released in 1996.

In addition, the Ozone Protection Act 1989 requires ODS licensees to submit quarterly reports on the volume, and country of origin or destination, of all ODS they import, export or manufacture.  Environment Australia maintains a database of this information, for domestic enforcement and monitoring purposes, and to assist compliance with Montreal Protocol obligations.

The national Ambient Air Quality Standards include monitoring and reporting protocols that all jurisdictions are required to meet and report against.  First reports are due by 2001.  The NEPM sets standards for the six criteria air pollutants.  Atmospheric emissions for the major Australian airsheds are reported under the National Pollutant Inventory.

The Living Cities – Air Toxics Program (http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/airquality/index.html) is working with all government jurisdictions, industry, community groups and other interested parties to monitor and establish the levels of community exposure to selected priority air toxics.  Several projects currently being conducted under the ATP in relation to data and information gathering.  They include: characterisation of toxic emissions from wood-heaters and in-service vehicles; review data on heavy metals in ambient air; and a personal exposure monitoring study targeting volatile organic compounds.  The State of Knowledge Report on Air Toxics and Indoor Air Quality in Australia (a document compiling available information on air toxics and indoor air quality in Australia) is also being prepared under the ATP (final draft of the report is available on the Internet at http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/airtoxics/sok_final_draft.html). 

The national State of Environment Reporting process also assesses atmospheric protection progress against a range of criteria.  These criteria address four key themes:

1.                  Climate Variability and Change;

2.                  Stratospheric ozone

3.                  Regional Air Quality; and

4.                  Urban Air Quality.

For further information see http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/index.html

Data and information on climate change and atmospheric protection is made available through web-sites maintained by the Atmosphere and Sustainable Transport Branch of Environment Australia, and the Australian Greenhouse Office.  Environment Australia’s Community Information Unit also handles public requests for information. 

Ozone protection information and scientific data can be accessed directly from Commonwealth, State and Territory environment agencies, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO Atmospheric Research Division via, phone, fax or email.  These agencies also manage the following web-sites:

Commonwealth agencies

Section of Environment Australia.

State and territory environment agencies' ozone protection sites

This information is disseminated at a national level through the consultative mechanisms in response to ad hoc inquiries.  At an international level, the information is disseminated through:

Research and Technologies   

A range of air quality monitoring instruments are used.  The Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) is beginning to replace the High Volume Sampler (Hi Vol) method for the measurement of particles, although there is no Australian Standards method available yet for the TEOM method.

More recent monitors include the multi parameter differential optical absorption spectrometer (DOAS) - capable of measuring ozone, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and some of the air toxics such as benzene.  Instrumental monitoring of photochemical oxidants has, in the last couple of decades, been based on ozone. The Australian-developed Airtrak 2100 instrument provides a powerful tool for developing strategies to control photochemical oxidants.  Airtrak provides information about photochemical oxidants formation and precursor conditions. 

A detailed description of air quality monitoring systems can be found in the Final Impact Statement for the National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality at http://www.nepc.gov.au/ 

Other technologies and methods used, by substance being measured, include:

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) operates a Climate Modelling Program to develop a better understanding of climate and its variations.  The Program is aimed at enhancing assessment of likely future climate variations due to the enhanced greenhouse effect and to natural climatic variability, and capacity to predict climate variability up to 12 months ahead.  CSIRO is developing, testing and applying a range of models to a variety of problems.  The Climate Impact Group builds upon results from global and regional climate models to produce assessments of the likely impacts of climatic change. This work has been integral to various assessment studies and policy formulation processes. 

CSIRO also operates the Global Atmospheric Sampling Laboratory (GASLAB).  The Laboratory assists determination of sources and sinks of greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases, as well as their atmospheric behaviour.  Australian industry is undertaking a wide range of innovative activities in response to the greenhouse effect. Many have significant export potential for the emerging greenhouse gas abatement, or remote area, markets. Others are still under development or at the pilot stage, or need help with commercialisation to break into export markets. Some examples follow.

·        Solid oxide fuel cell technology - Australia is a world leader in solid oxide fuel cell technology. Integration of this technology into hybrid systems and distributed power supplies will place Australia at the leading edge in advanced power generation.  For example, the solid oxide fuel cell system has electricity generation efficiencies from natural gas in excess of 50 percent for simple systems and up to 70 percent in combined cycle systems.  It will result in greenhouse gas emission reduction of 40-60 percent over conventional systems, and up to 80 percent reduction when used in a co-generation mode.

The Cooperative Research Centres for Black Coal Utilisation, and New Technologies for Power Generation from Low Rank Coal, are examining coal gasification as the first stage to integrated gasification combined cycle power generation.  This type of generation offers greenhouse gas emissions some 10-15 per cent lower than conventional power generation.  See web-site address http://www.isr.gov.au/crc/index.html for further information. 

Australia has introduced vehicle emissions standards that determine vehicle control technology and also introduced advanced fuel standards to facilitate the use of this technology

Financing   

Australia has developed a multi-faceted national strategy addressing greenhouse issues, underpinned by Federal Government funding of almost $1 billion over 5 years. 

The Australian Government has allocated $18.5 million over six years for its Air Pollution in Major Cities Program (APMCP).  The Air Quality Section of Environment Australia implements the APMCP.  More information on this program can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/airquality/index.html

Information on the substantial work being undertaken by State and Territory Governments can be accessed via the web-site addresses provided above.

The Australian Government has also allocated $4.2 million for the Living CitiesAir Toxics Program (ATP - http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/airquality/index.html).  This program aims to develop a national approach to the management of priority air toxics in both the ambient and indoor environments.  A possible National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) for air toxics and indoor air quality is being considered. 

Revenue from the National Halon Banking Facility, and ODS licence and activity fees, is a significant source of funds for the Australian Government's Ozone Protection Program.   The Measures for a Better Environment Statement  (http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/measures/index.html) includes a commitment to accelerate the development of a National Environment Protection Measure to address in-service diesel vehicle emissions and to specifically address the environmental performance of the diesel fleet.  The Australian Government has provided $40 million over 4 years to support the development and implementation of in-service emissions testing capabilities for diesel and petrol vehicles.

The Australian Government has allocated $297.4 million for greenhouse and atmosphere protection measures in 2000-2001.  This figure does not include State/Territory and local government allocations. 

Information on private sources is not systematically collected.   Member companies of the Greenhouse Challenge (GHC) Program do not provide data on their own expenditure on greenhouse gas reduction measures, and the Program itself does not generally provide funds directly to GHC members.  However, the Australian Greenhouse Office may provide dollar-for-dollar funding to large companies, who are members of the GHC, to identify and pursue greenhouse gas reduction activities additional to those currently being undertaken. 

Applicants for funding under the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program are expected to have already committed or expended resources of their own in pursuing greenhouse gas abatement measures. 

Sources from outside the country.

External sources of funding are not considered to be significant, except possibly where some portion of funds obtained through foreign investments may be directed towards environmental protection activities associated with the particular investment project. 

The Australian Government has employed a number of cost recovery measures to source funds allocated to ozone protection from the national budget, including:

Private sector investment in ozone protection includes the following initiatives:

A number of Australian Greenhouse Office programs promote private sector investment.

The $400 million Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program (GGAP), has been designed to leverage private funds into cost-effective abatement action by the private sector.  One of the key criteria for assessment of applications is the level of co-investment by proponents.

In addition, the Government's Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act, that will ensure an extra two per cent of this country's electricity is produced from renewable sources by 2010, will ensure a national market for up to 9,500 giga watt hours of extra renewable electricity per year.  This is expected to create more than $2 billion worth of investment in the Australian Renewable Energy Industry.

Cooperation

Bilateral cooperation

Under the auspices of the Montreal Protocol's financial mechanism (the Multilateral Fund), Australia is assisting Vietnam to phase out ODS in its refrigeration and air conditioning sectors, and collaborating with Canada to develop a halon banking and management program to assist India phase out the ODS.

Australia and Argentina regularly exchange information on ozone-related physical and chemical processes occurring at the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere. 

Australia's National Halon Bank has accepted surplus CFC from New Zealand, to ensure the responsible storage and disposal of the ODS.  Australia regularly shares its ozone policy experience with both developed and developing Protocol Parties.

The Australian Government's overseas aid program funds activities for abating greenhouse emissions and facilitating adaptation to climate change in developing countries.  Expenditure on climate change-related aid activities in the 1999-2000 financial year was nearly $26 million, for a total activities value of over $237 million.  This included assistance with adaptation approaches for small island states in the Pacific, capacity building and technology transfer in Asia, and forestry and land management activities in Papua New Guinea.  In addition, since 1991, Australia has provided around $42 million for climate change activities to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC.

Multilateral cooperation

Australia participates in the Montreal Protocol's technical and policy fora by: representing the CANZ (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) constituency in the Executive Committee of the Montreal Protocol's Multilateral Fund; chairing the Committee's Production Sector Subgroup; and co-chairing the Montreal Protocol's principal working groups, the Aerosols Technical Options Committee and the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee.  Australia's Cape Grim observation station is part of the World Meteorological Organisation's global network of stations tracking ozone-depleting substances.

Australia’s Greenhouse Science Program supports the International Project Office of the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems (GTCE) project, which is part of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program.  GCTE projects promote international cooperation in research and provide support for research in developed and developing countries, and enable investigations into the impacts and adaptations of ecosystems to climate change in countries with limited research resources.

The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and 1997 Kyoto Protocol; 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, as amended.

As an island continent relatively isolated in the Southern hemisphere, Australia suffers little from air pollution from beyond our borders.  Australia has therefore not participated in any international or regional arrangements related to trans-boundary air pollution.

Australia contributed A$10 million from 1994 to 96 to the Montreal Protocol for the transfer of ozone-friendly technology to developing countries. AusAID's integration of environmental concerns into the aid program in recent years has given increased priority to climate change activities. Australia has provided A$90 million to support approximately 50 current bilateral and regional projects across the Asia-Pacific region and also in Africa, which would contribute positively to greenhouse gas abatement. Australia has also committed nearly A$73 million to the Global Environment Facility for the period 1991-2 to 1996-7.

Australian scientists have played an active role in the various components of the World Climate Research Program including the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment and the Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program and in the IPCC. Australia has provided funding to the WMO to carry out a Climate Monitoring and Impacts Study in the South Pacific region.

 

The Commonwealth Ozone Protection Program continues to ensure that Australia meets its international obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.The program works domestically with relevant industry sectors, Government and the community to develop strategies for the phase out of ozone depleting substances which either meet Protocol targets, or go beyond these targets wherever it is practical to do so. The program also contributes to international efforts in ozone layer protection to ensure that Australia's achievements are not eroded by a lack of adequate or timely action in the rest of the world.

The development cooperation program provides funding for a range of bilateral projects, which address climate change. Promoting cleaner energy is a particular focus in this sector. Expertise is provided, inter alia, in improvements in coal based energy production. A Global Change Impact Center is being established in Indonesia to serve as a resource base of scientific expertise on the effects of global change in South East Asia.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th, 6th, and 9th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: April 2001.

Click here for information about the National Pollutant Inventory.

Click here for the National Pollutant Inventory and accompanying documents.

Click here for 'Safeguarding The Future'

Click here for the Australian Greenhouse Office.

Click here for the National Greenhouse Strategy.

Click here for "Clear the Air".

Click here for "Urban Air Pollution in Australia".

Click here for the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) on ambient air quality.

Click here for Australia's Ozone Protection Strategy

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BIODIVERSITY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

At the Federal level, Environment Australia has primary responsibility for formulation of national biodiversity policies. A key means for coordinating Federal, State and Territory policies and activities relevant to biodiversity is the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council. This Council comprises all Government ministers responsible for the environment and conservation, although only Australian ministers are able to make an input to issues that pertain solely to the national level.  

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in 1992 and ratified in 1993. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was signed before 1 July 1992.  There is a wide range of legislative instruments at all spheres of government relevant to biodiversity conservation.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Protection of biodiversity and the maintenance of essential ecological processes and life support systems is one of the three core objectives of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD). The National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity is a product of the spirit of cooperation engendered by the Inter-Governmental Agreement on the Environment and has been endorsed by all spheres of Government. It is the major framework for national implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Strategy accepts the core objectives and guiding principles of the NSESD and outlines objectives and actions for six target areas. A key element of the Strategy is the management of biological diversity on a regional basis. Measures are intended to achieve the integration of biodiversity conservation into planning mechanisms at all levels.

The National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity is closely related to other national strategies, including the National Forest Policy Statement, the draft National Strategy for Rangeland Management, the Feral Pests Program and a number of other national strategies currently being developed, including a National Weeds Strategy which is in the process of being finalised.

The National Biodiversity Strategy recognises that major research initiatives are required in the areas of compilation and assessment of existing knowledge, conservation biology, achieving ecologically sustainable use in a range of sectors, rapid assessment and inventory, long-term monitoring and ethnobiology. A number of projects are underway to help fill these gaps, including pilot testing of rapid biodiversity assessment techniques.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Contributions from industry, business, the scientific community and NGOs were particularly important to the development of the National Biodiversity Strategy. A Biological Diversity Advisory Council comprising persons with relevant expertise from these groups has been established to advise Government on biological diversity conservation issues.

The importance of the knowledge and participation of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders is increasingly being acknowledged with cooperative efforts between the communities and both government and non-government conservation organisations. Significant areas of land under Aboriginal ownership have been set aside as protected areas. Aboriginal involvement is achieved through representation on management bodies, participation in the ranger service and through the contracting of work.

 

Programmes and Projects 

 

The establishment of protected areas has long been a focus of government activity in the sphere of conservation. To achieve the Government's objective of having a national representative system of protected areas, the National Reserve System Program has been established. The program includes development and refinement of methodologies for identification of protected areas, and incentives for State and Territory cooperation and development of nationally consistent management principles for protected areas. The Government has a particular interest in the development of a mix of off-reserve incentives to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In addition, the Endangered Species Program, Wetlands Program and the National Landcare Program, and initiatives such as One Billion Trees and Save the Bush contribute to the off-reserve management and rehabilitation of biological diversity. 

Ex-situ measures include botanic gardens, seed/gene banks such as the network of plant genetic resource centres and the Australian Tree Seed Centre, aquaria, zoos, and microbial collections such as the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Culture Collection of Microalgae. Networks such as the Australian Network for Plant Conservation and the Australian Species Management Scheme have been established to coordinate ex-situ conservation activities for threatened native plant and animal species, respectively.

The Australian Biological Resources Study promotes studies in the taxonomy and distribution of Australia's flora and fauna. A Multi Divisional Research Program was established aimed at providing management options to help make the National Biodiversity Strategy operational. There are, for instance, a number of newly established Cooperative Research Centres concerned with management of tropical rain forests and with sustainable forestry.

 

Status   

 

No  information is available

Challenges  

No  information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

Support for increased community involvement in biodiversity conservation activities and for the incorporation of biodiversity into educational programs is a major objective of the National Biodiversity Strategy. Media organisations, government agencies, educational institutions, scientific establishments and conservation groups have all been active in recent years in promoting the conservation of biological diversity. Increased community interest in the topic has resulted in greater coverage in media and educational programs.

Information 

Linking of herbarium collections is achieved through the Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS), the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) computer data base which also links the collections to an extensive photographic collection. In conjunction with the Environmental Resources Information Network, the ANBG undertakes to catalogue the biodiversity of Australian plants by maintaining as an integral part of IBIS the Census of Australian Plants and the Australian Plant Name Index and making this information available to researchers. The National Wilderness Inventory project has completed the continental mapping of wilderness quality and is now continuing a program of maintenance and update.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available

Financing 

Australia provides annual funding to the Trust Fund for the Convention on Biological Diversity. Additional funding has been provided to assist delegations from developing countries to attend the COP, as well as contributing towards Biotechnology Fairs. In 1996 Australia provided initial funding for an indigenous persons position within the CBD Secretariat. A Natural Heritage Trust has been established to become the foundation for the conservation of biodiversity and the ecologically sustainable management of Australia's land and water resources.

Cooperation

Australia participates in the South Pacific Biodiversity Conservation Program and other projects with global significance. The Rapid Assessment of Biodiversity Resources project, for instance, will lead to several products that will aid countries (and others) to rapidly appraise areas and determine priorities for the management of biodiversity.

 

* * * 

This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

Click here for the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity

Click here for the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992

Click here for Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982

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DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Australia signed the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa on 14 October 1994. The Federal Government of Australia has now begun the process of deciding whether to ratify the Convention. These procedures involve extensive consultation with, and consideration by, the Federal Parliament, State and Territory Governments and the wider community.

As part of these new treaty procedures, the Federal Government is preparing a National Interest Analysis (NIA) of the Convention to Combat Desertification, drawing upon consultations with the States and Territories, business and industry representatives, and environmental and development organisations. This NIA will provide a summary of the potential benefits and costs to Australia of entering the Convention. The NIA will also take into account the recommendations of the Federal Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and a Commonwealth-State Treaties Council on the Convention. The NIA will be tabled in Parliament and released to the public, prior to a final decision on ratification.  

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The Australian Governments seek to ensure consistency between policies and programs aimed at natural resource management, industry development and drought. Many initiatives link ecological, social and economic objectives through development of integrated regional approaches to resource management.

A review of drought measures triggered under the National Drought Policy was initiated as a result of the intensification of Australia's drought situation in 1994-95. Objectives of the review were to assess the appropriateness of current drought assistance measures and to set the foundation for the development of a future drought policy which will focus on the importance of drought research and development programs in maintaining a sustainable farming sector and minimising the impacts of drought on the environment.

The Draft National Strategy for Rangeland Management was released for a five month public comment period in July 1996. The Draft Strategy sets out a vision for Australia's rangelands based on the need for ecological sustainability and commercial viability of industry in the region. It identifies actions needed to protect and enhance the natural resources base, which underlies most activity in the rangelands. The Draft Strategy was prepared by a working group comprising representatives from key stakeholder groups, including government, industry, conservation, indigenous peoples and scientists. Significant input was provided by both rural and urban communities, industry and other interest groups. The finalised National Strategy for Rangeland Management is due for release in 1997.

Federal and State/Territory governments have been working to develop a National Weeds Strategy (NWS) in an attempt to better coordinate control efforts by the different spheres of Government and landholders in addressing nationally significant weed species. The weeds Acacia gilotica, Cryptostegra grandiflora, Prosopis spp, Parkinsonia aculeata and Xanthium occidentale are serious pests in the rangelands and have been identified as possible nationally significant species for control in the draft action plan for the NWS.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Indigenous peoples have a special relationship with the rangelands and are substantial stakeholders within the region, managing approximately 18.4 percent of the total land area. Land tenure is also an important consideration for the pastoral, mining and tourism industries which are increasingly addressing the impacts of their activities on the environment, while seeking to operate ecologically and financially sustainable enterprises in the rangelands. Indigenous peoples may have concepts of conservation and land use which differ from those of other rangeland users. Management of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, owned by the region's traditional Aboriginal custodians, and managed jointly with the Commonwealth Department of Environment, provides an example of how indigenous knowledge is being used in rangeland management.

A new Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) came into existence on 1 June 1995. During the first two years of its National Indigenous Land Strategy (1996-2001), the ILC will be formulating its long term role in land management.

Programmes and Projects   

The research and development program of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) includes many projects with direct applicability to the rangelands. For example, CSIRO has developed a technique for measuring land condition at the landscape scale using satellite imagery. In cooperation with the Northern Territory government the method has been used to assess an area of some 40,000 square kilometres of central Australia. All rangeland States and Territory governments are also undertaking research into rangeland management issues. The establishment in 1995 of the Cooperative Research Centre for the Sustainable Development of Tropical Savannas is an example of the cooperation being undertaken between organisations working in the rangelands of Australia.

Status   

Australia's rangelands, comprising the arid and semi-arid areas and some high rainfall areas in the north of the country, make up nearly three quarters of the continent. They include native grasslands, shrublands, woodlands and the tropical savanna woodlands, some of which have suffered degradation, although the exact extent and severity is not yet defined. Pastoral industries occupy 58% of the rangeland area; however the mining and tourism industries are now economically more significant than pastoralism and drive most of the infrastructure development in the rangelands.

Many rangeland areas contain habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species and have a significant number of endemic species or exhibit high species diversity. Biodiversity in these areas has been adversely affected by factors such as feral animals and weeds, modification of habitat by grazing, vegetation clearing and land degradation. The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, and the current development of national strategies for rangeland management, weed management and the conservation of Australian species and ecological communities threatened with extinction are helping to address these issues.

Challenges  

Management of total grazing pressure (TGP) is of concern to rangeland pastoralists; however the management of feral pests is difficult over extensive areas. The 1996 release of the rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) will reduce the grazing impact of this pest species with subsequent environmental benefits.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

The Property Management Planning (PMP) initiative being implemented jointly by the Federal and State/Territory governments is providing a coordinated approach to raising the managerial skills of property and farm managers. Modules, emphasising adult learning principles rather than information dissemination, are presented in a whole systems context at workshop sessions. "Drought plan" is a cooperative project between graziers, extension officers and researchers aimed at developing risk management strategies to deal with drought. Substantial progress has been made into climate prediction techniques and in management technologies.   

National funding is to be provided for a small network of Aboriginal land management facilitators. Duties will include: raising awareness and providing information on land and nature conservation issues; facilitating the formation of group activity appropriate to Aboriginal people; assisting groups to plan and implement enterprise development and landcare activities; and assisting in the development of linkages between community groups, government agencies, non-Aboriginal landholders and private enterprise.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

Australia's experience in tackling land degradation may be useful in helping other countries address their resource management problems. The Australian Government supports international co-operation on desertification. In March 1995 the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) established the Australian Fund for Combatting Desertification in Africa, managed by UNDP, the UN Office for Combatting Drought and Desertification (UNSO) and the UN Office of Project Services. Australia has also contributed funds to the Interim Secretariat to support the participation of developing countries and non-governmental organisations in the Convention. The Australian aid program supports activities in developing countries in related fields such as sustainable agriculture, water resource management and land use planning. Such projects are aimed at the causes of desertification and preventing its escalation.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funds collaborative research projects on priority agricultural problems in developing countries. It contributes funds to international agricultural research centres responsible for agriculture in dryland areas, particularly the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics. It also supports bilateral projects between Australian research institutions and those of the Asia-Pacific and southern African regions. Several of these have been related to soil and water management and conservation, and the control of woody weeds in areas subject to desertification. 

       * * *

This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

Click here for National Principles and Guidelines for Rangeland Management.

Click here for the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity

Click here for 'Agriculture-Advancing Australia'.

Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC).

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ENERGY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Australian Constitution divides responsibility for decision-making on energy-related issues between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

Commonwealth responsibilities include ensuring free and fair interstate trade in goods and services, including energy, transmission network regulation, and development of offshore energy resources. The Commonwealth provides national leadership in the promotion of competitive electricity and gas markets.  The Commonwealth Government is responsible for representing Australia’s interests in international forums, including the United Nations and its constituent bodies, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.  The Commonwealth is also responsible for pursuing and maintaining bilateral relationships.

State/Territory Governments have jurisdictional responsibility for energy-related matters including: energy production; distribution network regulation; transport, land use, and urban planning; and infrastructure provision. States and Territories also have responsibility for development of energy resources within their jurisdictions.

State/Territory Governments have established various departments and agencies to deal with transport matters and environmental/natural resource management matters under their own specific institutional and administrative arrangements. 

Commonwealth Agencies

The (Commonwealth) Minister for Industry, Science and Resources oversees the main Federal responsibilities for energy matters. The Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) administers Commonwealth energy and resources policy.  DISR also has responsibility for the Government's research and development programs, major project facilitation and encouragement of investment.

Overall Commonwealth responsibility for transport policy rests with the Minister and Department of Transport and Regional Services (DoTRS).

Commonwealth environment policy and programs are the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage.  These are administered by the Department of the Environment and Heritage (Environment Australia). 

The Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) works to realise the potential economic and environmental benefits of greenhouse response actions covering areas such as: renewable energy; efficient use of fossil fuels; fuel switching; and end use efficiency in both transport and stationary energy. 

State Agencies

States/Territory responsibilities for energy issues lie with Ministers for Energy, Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, or Fuel and Energy, according to the institutional and administrative arrangements determined by individual State/Territory Governments.

Commonwealth and intra-jurisdiction level

Ministerial or officials' level committees establish and maintain processes coordinating Commonwealth action for matters of cross-portfolio interest.  These committees may be either long or short-term standing committees or, depending on the subject matter, ad hoc. 

The Ministerial Council on Greenhouse is an example of a standing committee.  Ad hoc bodies are also established as required, for example, the Renewable Transport Fuels Working Group, a joint industry/government group that is part of the Renewable Energy Action Agenda.  There is also the Environment Group of DoTRS which will establish an ad hoc committee to consult with other departments during development of the Energy Grants (Credits) Scheme.   This approach is followed as required across jurisdictions.

Inter-government co-ordination

Australia employs a number of mechanisms to facilitate information-sharing and coordinate decision making, for energy-related matters, across all jurisdictions. 

·      The Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) comprises the highest elected official from each jurisdiction (namely State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth); it meets annually to consider issues that affect all jurisdictions.  Energy and resource management issues are often considered.

·      The Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council (ANZMEC) is a Ministerial Council which meets annually and is supported by a number of sub-groups and working groups which comprise representatives from each jurisdiction.

·      The High Level Group on Greenhouse comprises high level officials from Commonwealth State and Territory Governments responsible for implementing measures under the National Greenhouse Strategy. 

Another mechanism is issue-specific working groups or advisory groups. Coordination is often achieved via joint government, industry and other stakeholder Working Groups.  Examples include:

-        Working Groups established to develop both the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target and Generator Efficiency Standards; and

-    the Gas Policy Forum, consisting of representatives from relevant industry associations, consumer bodies, national regulatory bodies and all jurisdictions.

Where appropriate, Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments enact complementary legislation, which has identical effect in each jurisdiction.  For example, the National Electricity Code covers market rules; operation, system control and system security; network connection and access arrangements; principles of network pricing; and metering.  It is being implemented through complementary legislation.

Local governments are responsible for implementing planning policies and regulations that impact on local level energy use and efficiency. These policies and regulations affect areas including: urban design; road planning; residential and commercial energy efficiency; waste management; and utilities. A number of Commonwealth programs aimed at improving energy efficiency are managed through local governments

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The following laws/regulations/directives are relevant to the transport sector:

-        the Aviation Fuel Revenues (Special Appropriation) Act 1988; which appropriates certain aviation fuel revenues for Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority;

-        Australian Design Rules (ADRs), which address emission and fuel consumption performance of vehicles under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989;

-        the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme;

-        the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 will regulate the quality of fuel supplied in Australia in order to reduce pollutants and emissions;

-        the Petroleum Retail Marketing Sites Act 1980 and Petroleum Retail Marketing Franchise Act 1980 which were intended to reduce vertical integration in fuel retailing;

-        the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000 and associated legislation collects a levy on oil and uses the funds to provide incentives for oil recycling;

-        the Petroleum Products Freight Subsidy Scheme (1965) which was intended to reduce the price differential between metropolitan and rural fuel customers; and

-        the Fuel Sales Grant Scheme (2000) provides a subsidy of 1 or 2 cents per litre for fuel purchases outside metropolitan areas.

The following laws/regulations/directives are relevant to the energy sector:

-                     Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (information below);

-                     Fuel excise differential applied to leaded petrol in 1994;

-                     Generator Efficiency Standards (information below); and

-                     the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000.

In November 1997, the Australian Government announced introduction of a mandatory target for the inclusion of renewable energy in power supplies, as part of its commitment to meeting Australia’s Kyoto targets.  The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, which supports implementation of the mandatory renewable energy target, was passed by Federal Parliament on 8 December 2000, and is due to commence in April 2001. 

The target is for the generation of an additional 9500 GWh of renewable energy by 2010, raising Australia’s total renewable energy contribution to over 12%. The target will be phased in over the period 2001-2010. 

For more information see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/markets/2percent_ren/

On 1 July 2000, Australia introduced efficiency standards for power generators using fossil fuels. Companies are voluntarily entering into legally binding agreements to move toward these standards.  The standards apply to new projects and existing power generators above 30 MW capacity, whether grid-connected, off-grid, or self-generators.

The best practice efficiency standards for new plant are:  

These standards are based on international best practice adjusted for Australian conditions (such as different air temperatures).

Plant-specific standards are being set for existing power plants.  These standards are mainly based on the type of fossil fuel, age and type of technology, used in the plant.

For more information see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/markets/gen_eff/

The application of Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) to refrigerators and electric storage water heaters commenced on 1 October 1999.  Development of MEPS for electric motors, lighting ballasts and packaged air conditioners is well advanced.

For more information see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/appliances/meps/index.html

Regulations, incentives, subsides directed at consumers;

Product energy efficiency

Most major domestic appliances sold in Australia are subject to energy labelling.  Labels contain information on the appliance model's absolute energy consumption under standard test conditions, and an indicator of the model's relative energy efficiency compared with others in its class.  The range of domestic and commercial products subject to labelling and minimum energy performance standards is being progressively extended.

For more information see web-site addresses:

http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/appliances/labelling/index.html

http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/appliances/index.html

http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/appliances/meps/index.html

http://www.energyrating.gov.au

Building energy efficiency

The Australian (or Commonwealth) Government is working with State/Territory and local governments, and the building industry, to develop energy efficiency measures for incorporation into the Building Code of Australia (see web-site  http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/building/code.html

When these take effect, mandatory minimum energy performance standards will apply to all new and substantially refurbished residential and commercial buildings. 

For more information see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/building/index.html

Incentives to invest in alternative energy

A number of State/Territory governments and energy utilities have programs in place to encourage the installation of solar water heaters.  This is usually given effect through subsidies or rebates.

The Commonwealth Government has provided $31 million over four years for the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (for further details, see web-site address: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/initiatives.html#photovoltaic).

Regulations, incentives, subsidies directed at industries.  

The levying of taxes and charges is a shared responsibility between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.  These are levied on upstream energy production, imported petroleum products and energy consumption. 

With the exception of differential excise on unleaded gasoline, the excise exemption for alternative fuels, and the imposition of an excise-style levy on lubricants to fund waste oil recycling, taxation is not used explicitly to internalise environmental costs.  The benefits paid for waste oil recycling provide higher incentives for the production of environmentally sound oil products.  For example, production of lube-to-lube attracts a higher incentive than re-use of waste oil as a fuel source for high temperature kilns.

The Australian Government is studying other mechanisms for dealing with environmental costs. For example, the Australian Greenhouse Office is currently investigating the feasibility of introducing a domestic emissions trading scheme.

Support for the development and use of alternative energy sources

The Commonwealth Government currently provides support of nearly $800 million each year for alternative transport fuels through a number of measures.

Excise exemption

Alternative transport fuels such as LPG and CNG and other unblended fuels are exempt from the excise levied on petroleum fuels.  This represents a saving to alternative fuel users of around 38 cents per litre, at a cost to Government of around $700 million each year.

Diesel and Alternative Fuel Grant Scheme

Under the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme (DAFGS), alternative fuels (such as compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, ethanol and other renewable fuels) are eligible for grants to offset the impact of reduced diesel costs on their commercial attractiveness.  The scheme administers a grant on diesel and differing rates for certain other fuels.  

The DAFGS will operate from July 2000 until June 2002.  The Scheme is generally applicable to all commercial vehicles over 20 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM) in metropolitan areas, and vehicles weighing between 4.5 and 20 tonnes GVM, that undertake operations servicing regional areas.  The Scheme also applies to alternatively fuelled buses operating in urban areas.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Infrastructure and Alternative Fuels Conversion Programs (See ‘Transport chapter’, for information on these programs). 

The Energy Grants (Credits) Scheme

The Energy Grants (Credits) Scheme, being developed by the Department of Transport and Regional Services, in conjunction with Environment Australia and the Australian Greenhouse Office, will replace the DAFGS in July 2002.  This new scheme should maintain existing entitlements under the DAFGS and further promote use of clean fuels.

Emissions Trading

The Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) Emissions Trading Team is advising the Government on the development of a national emissions trading system to help ensure Australia meets its Kyoto Protocol commitments in the most cost effective manner consistent with the national interest.

Greenhouse Friendly, Greenhouse Free

The Australian Government has recently announced the introduction of a greenhouse offset program that will commence early in 2001.  The program will provide certification for products with greenhouse emissions offset by projects financed by companies and approved by the Australian Greenhouse Office.  The program will provide two levels of certification.  The first of these will assure consumers who buy a certified product that at least 50% of the emissions caused by the use of that product will be offset through abatement projects funded by the company.  Greenhouse Free goes further, certifying that 100% of emissions from both the manufacture and use of the product have been offset.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The Federal Government's Resource Policy Statement is committed to preparing a White Paper on Sustainable Energy Policy with a 25 years perspective. The Government's aim is to provide an energy policy framework that integrates economic, environmental and social goals.  Australia has taken major action within the energy sector to cut its greenhouse gas emissions since its first National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS) was established in 1992. The NGRS is currently being reviewed, with a view to announcing a new strategy in 1998. As a first step towards this, in November 1997, the Commonwealth Government of Australia announced a package of additional domestic greenhouse measures, which will further strengthen the new National Greenhouse Strategy (NGS).

While the Australian economy relies heavily upon competitively priced energy, Australia is cognisant of the environmental impact of energy-related practices. 

In August 1999, Commonwealth, State and Territory energy Ministers released an energy policy framework promoting cooperative and consistent development and implementation of sustainable energy policies and programs (see web-site address http://www.isr.gov.au/resources/netenergy/publications/epf-anzmec.pdf).  This framework is complemented by a range of programs, encompassing regulatory, incentive-based and information/advisory-based measures. 

The National Greenhouse Strategy identified development of an Action Agenda for the renewable energy industry as a key priority. The Renewable Energy Action Agenda, developed by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources in partnership with industry, was launched in June 2000. The Action Agenda provides a policy framework to underpin the growth of an internationally competitive Australian renewable energy industry. The Action Agenda sets an ambitious target for growth and identifies strategies and actions necessary to achieve it. For more information see web-site address http://www.isr.gov.au/industry/environ/renewableenergy/index.html

Australia seeks to maintain an internationally competitive fiscal and regulatory regime that attracts investment in resource exploration, development, innovation and technological improvement. This is complemented by Australia’s pursuit of international trade and investment liberalisation.

The Australian Government also participates in sustainable energy supply and use initiatives with other countries.  The International Greenhouse Partnerships Program targets Australian industry and host country agencies for the promotion of greenhouse gas mitigation projects.  These projects provide relevant experience and contribute to achieving international agreement on cost-effective, open, transparent and equitable Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation arrangements.  For more information see web-site address http://www.isr.gov.au/resources/energy%5Fgreenhouse/igp/index.html

In January 2001, the Australian Government released a 5 year, $3 billion innovation statement titled Backing Australia's Ability: An Innovation Action Plan for the Future.  The innovation statement aims to enhance Australia's ability to generate ideas and undertake research, accelerate the commercial application of ideas, and develop Australia's skills base.  Initiatives under the innovation statement include the expansion of programs to assist general R&D, increased support for Cooperative Research Centres and the increased provision of grants for companies undertaking innovative research.  These initiatives will have a positive spin-off effect on energy research, development and investment.

energy supply, access, and distribution;

Australia's policies governing energy supply and end-use are designed to be consistent with, and supportive of, the economic, social and environmental requirements of a sustainable energy future. Fundamentally, this requires development of an open and competitive national energy market, including:

·        the provision of reliable energy services to all Australians, including those in regional Australia;

·        improving the efficiency with which energy services are made available;

·        reducing the local and global environmental impacts of energy production, supply and use, including achieving a less carbon intensive economy; and

·        fully realising the sector’s export potential (commodities, technology and services) as new capacities are developed. 

 

There is increasing recognition of the economic potential of distributed generation, and the likely, future cost-effectiveness of co-locating renewable energy with energy consumption.

Electricity

Broad-ranging national competition policy reforms were adopted in 1995.  These reforms encourage competition in the trading activities of government-owned enterprises and, in particular, achieve competitive neutrality between government owned and private industries. Reform of the structure, ownership and regulation of the electricity supply industry aims to:

·        provide better capacity utilisation of generation assets; and households.

Australia considers that provision of energy security and efficient energy services is best pursued by encouraging open, transparent and efficient markets, where prices are determined through the interaction of producers and consumers.

Australia has a well-developed electricity infrastructure of grid inter-connections which provides low cost, reliable and accessible energy services for nearly all Australians. Stand-alone systems are used in remote areas of Australia. The Australian Government has initiated a number of programs to encourage the conversion of remote area power systems from diesel generators to renewable generation.

As indicated above, Australia has introduced specific targets for increasing the proportion of renewable energy sources within the electricity supply.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Commonwealth Government Operations

The Commonwealth Energy Efficiency Policy, announced in 1997, aims to promote Commonwealth Government leadership in demonstrating improved energy efficiency, thereby reducing the environmental impact of government operations.  All departments and agencies covered by the Policy must meet annual reporting requirements and achieve energy efficiency performance targets by 2002-03.  The Policy identifies energy efficiency measures relevant to effective energy management programs.

Under the Policy, Departmental and agency heads are accountable to their Ministers for their organisations’ performance in improving energy efficiency.  All departments and agencies are required to report their annual energy consumption and energy intensity.  A whole of Government energy performance report is published annually by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.

Steady improvements have been made in energy efficiency and cost savings for Commonwealth Government operations.  Further information can be found at web-site address is: http://www.isr.gov.au/resources/netenergy/domestic/comm/index.html

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

A wide range of consultative mechanisms are used – the following are examples:

Consultations were held with industry and the scientific community during development and implementation of the Renewable Energy Action Agenda which encompasses strategies and actions for development of the Australian renewable energy industry sector.  The Leaders Group and the Strategic Working Groups comprised representatives from all major industry and associations and businesses, environmental groups (NGO’s), women’s groups, and the scientific and technological community.  A discussion paper to assist development of the Renewable Energy Action Agenda was publicly circulated and comments invited through the Action Agenda web-site.

Bodies representing the building industry have been established.  These include the Australian Building Energy Council (see web-site address http://www.abec.com.au/) and the Partnership Advancing the Housing Environment (http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/building/practices.html) which participate in developing strategies to improve building energy efficiency.

Under the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Program (http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/naeeep.pdf), Standards Australia develops standards for appliances and equipment energy efficiency.  Industry representatives are consulted when setting minimum performance standards.

Current ownership of Australian energy production and distribution agencies is varied.  All electricity generation, transmission and distribution agencies are separate, independent business entities, although some remain in State Government ownership.  Most gas utilities are now privately owned and operated, and all petroleum business entities are privately owned.

Peak environmental NGOs in five States receive funding to deliver Smogbusters, a sustainable transport community education initiative.  Smogbusters NGOs seek to influence transport-related energy consumption by disseminating information and forming partnerships with businesses, other NGOs and local government.  They also seek to influence government policies and plans in order to reduce transport energy consumption.

One example of how consumer groups influence the energy consumption pattern in Australia is through “Green Power” schemes.  Under these schemes, electricity customers can voluntarily increase their electricity payments to support retailer expenditure on renewable energy. 

The Australian Consumer Association undertakes independent testing and public reporting on the energy efficiency of various appliances and equipment.

Programmes and Projects   

As part of the Measures for a Better Environment Statement, announced by the Prime Minister in May 1999, the Australian Government has allocated a further $321 million over four years (starting from 1 July 2000) for renewable energy programs.  See web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/initiatives.html

Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program (RECP)

The RECP is a five-year, $56 million competitive grants program, aimed at fostering development of a strong renewable energy industry in Australia. It provides funding for projects leading to the commercialisation of innovative renewable energy equipment, technologies, systems and processes. Projects funded so far include: large scale thermal, solar and integrated photovoltaic systems; land-fill gas power generation, hot dry rock resource assessment, wind power and enabling technologies for renewable energy systems such as batteries and inverters.

An Industry Development component, utilising up to $6m of the total $56m available to the RECP, is available for projects that will facilitate wider application of renewable energy technologies and contribute to the development of a sustainable, internationally competitive Australian renewable energy industry.

For more information on the RECP, see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/recp/

Photovoltaic Rebate Program

This program encourages the long-term use of photovoltaic technology to generate electricity, increasing the use of renewable energy in Australia.  It offers cash rebates to householders and owners of community-use buildings such as schools. 

For more information see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/initiatives.html#photovoltaic

Renewable Remote Power Generation Program

The Renewable Remote Power Generation Program (RRPGP) aims to increase the uptake of renewable energy technology in remote areas of Australia. The objectives of the RRPGP are:

Funding for the program commenced on 1 July 2000, and is administered in partnership with State and Territory Governments.  The RRPGP will provide a rebate of up to 50 per cent of the cost of converting diesel-based, off-grid electricity supplies to renewable energy technologies. The program will be funded from excise paid on diesel used to generate electricity by off-grid public generators. States and Territories will be allocated funding on the basis of the relevant diesel fuel excise paid in that State or Territory. Up to $264 million is available over the four-year life of the program.

For more information, see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/initiatives.html

Renewable Energy Equity Fund

The Renewable Energy Equity Fund (REEF), announced in November 1997, aims to develop a venture capital market for technology-based firms seeking to commercialise research and development.  The Fund will provide a one-off sum of up to$17.6 million of Commonwealth funds, to be matched on a 2:1 basis with private-sector capital.

For more information, see web-site address http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/renew4.html

Co-operative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) was established in July 1996 and will receive $10 million, over seven years, from the Commonwealth Cooperative Research Centre Program. 

State Government Support for Renewable Energy

A number of State governments also provide direct support enabling industry and consumers to make greater use of renewable energy.  This support ranges from information and advisory services, research and development (R&D) and R&D commercialisation support, through to funding incentives for the purchase and installation of renewable energy technology. For more information, see web-site address: http://www.isr.gov.au/netenergy/links/index.html

International Centre for the Application of Solar Energy

The International Centre for the Application of Solar Energy (CASE) was established by UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) to promote the application of renewable energy technologies in developing countries. It is supported by the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments and is based in Perth, Western Australia. CASE focuses on isolated and rural communities who have limited or no access to electrical power.

Programs and measures to ensure supply of energy to low income households vary between States.  It is common for electricity distributors within Australia to offer State subsidised discounts to pensioners, as well as individuals possessing Health Care or Health Benefits cards.

There is a wide range of greenhouse gas response programs in place in Australia.  They include:

·        initiatives announced in the Prime Minister's 1997 Safeguarding the Future: Australia's Response to Climate Change package (funded at $180 million).  See details at web-site http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/communications/key_documents.html;

·        a comprehensive National Greenhouse Strategy (NGS - see details at web-site  http://www.greenhouse.gov.au) endorsed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in 1998, and supported by complementary initiatives being undertaken by individual States and Territories; and

·        new greenhouse abatement initiatives included in the Measures for a Better Environment package, announced by the Prime Minister in May 1999 (see details at web-site http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/measures/index.html).  The package is funded at $796 million, bringing total expenditure on greenhouse gas response programs to almost $1 billion over 5 years.

The measures encompass, regulatory, standards-based, advisory/support and information programs, and address all sectors of the economy.  In addition to energy supply and use, the NGS incorporates initiatives dealing with non-energy sources of emissions in the areas of transport, industry, waste, agriculture and vegetation management, and households.

A number of the regulatory measures relating to energy supply and use, such as those governing the National Energy Market operation, the Mandatory Renewable Energy Market and the Product Energy Efficiency measures, have been outlined in the relevant sections of this report.  There are, however, two major domestic programs for industry which are not discussed elsewhere.

The Commonwealth Government launched its Energy Efficiency Best Practice Program (EEBP) in mid-1998.  The EEBP is voluntary, aimed at stimulating energy-efficient best practice in Australian business (see web-site address http://www.isr.gov.au/bpp/about/index.html for details).  It differs from the Greenhouse Challenge Program (http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/challenge/) in that it targets industry associations to promote energy efficiency best practice to these associations’ member companies.

  The EEBP seeks to achieve its objectives through a range of activities and mechanisms assisting businesses to identify and realise opportunities for energy cost savings.  These include:

A Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Greenhouse Accounting has been awarded $15.3 million over 7 years to promote a comprehensive Australian accounting system for carbon emissions and sinks.  The system should contribute to the core goals of reducing climate change impact and providing a cost-effective approach.

Many of the greenhouse gas response measures outlined above promote energy conservation and increased energy efficiency.  The major energy efficiency programs in place include:

·        energy labelling and minimum energy performance standards for major household appliances, and commercial and industrial equipment;

·        development of building energy standards, and advisory or collaborative programs to improve energy efficiency beyond minimum energy performance requirements;

·        the Energy Efficiency Best Practice Program for industry;

·        access to international best practice and demonstrated energy efficient technologies, through Australian participation in the International Energy Agency's Energy and Environment Technology Information Centres (EETIC) program, and supported by a technology transfer network in each State;

·        a number of market transformation programs which are intended to encourage energy efficiency practice beyond minimum standard requirements;

·        they include adoption of Energy-Star ratings for office equipment (www.energystar.gov.au), an Australian motor systems challenge dealing with electric motors and drives (www.isr.gov.au/motors), and an energy efficient lighting systems program currently under development;

·        a nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme;

·        a similar program for commercial buildings is being considered;

·        the Household Greenhouse Action program (http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/household/), which funds projects promoting the efficient use of energy in the domestic sector;

·        the program targets lighting, heating and cooling, hot water and refrigeration, systems; and

·        establishment of energy use targets for government departments and agencies, supported by annual public reporting requirements;

·        all governments have similar programs in place.

Individual States also have advisory centres and services in place.  Some States also offer specific financial incentives for the uptake of renewable or high efficiency technology or services

Status   

Energy production and trade

Compared with current rates of production, Australia has vast demonstrated reserves of energy (except crude oil), as outlined in the table below.

Australian identified recoverable resources of energy minerals and fuels  

 

Unit

Demonstrated Resources

Inferred

Production

 

 

Economic

Sub-economic

Resources

1997-98

Black coal

Gt

49

6

Very large

.22

Brown coal

Gt

41

3

166

.07

Petroleum

 

 

 

 

 

   Crude oil

GL

423

84

NA

33.96

   Natural gas

TJ

1360

984

NA

31.78

   LPG

GL

174

77

NA

4.44

   Shale oil

GL

-

4822

40360

-

Uranium

Kt U

622

93

NA

4.92

Source: The following abstract has been extracted from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics’ (ABARE) publication: Australian Energy: Market Developments and Projections to 2014-15, (1999).

Total energy production in Australia is projected to be 18 951 petajoules in 2014-15 — up 55 per cent from the 1997-98 level, translating into an average rate of growth of 2.6 per cent a year. This projected growth rate is well above that expected for energy consumption in Australia because energy exports are expected to grow strongly.

Australia is a net importer of crude oil and other refinery feedstocks (ORF), and also imports petroleum products. Imports of crude oil and ORF were 25,015 ML (megalitres) and petroleum product imports were 3,285 ML in 1997-98.

Australian exports of energy in 1997-98 comprised: coal (162,610 kt), coke (333 kt), briquettes (100 kt), crude oil and ORF (14,784 ML), petroleum products (5,079 ML), LPG (2,824 ML), LNG (7,583 kt) and uranium (5,440 t) (Bush et al (1999), Australian Energy: Market Developments and Projections to 2014-15)

The following abstract has been drawn from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics’ publication: Australian Energy: Market Developments and Projections to 2014-15, (1999).

Energy consumption: historical trends and the current situation

Total energy consumption in Australia is estimated to have increased from 2615 petajoules in 1973-74 to 4810 petajoules in 1997-98 — an average rate of growth of 2.6 per cent a year.

Energy consumption in Australia continues to be dominated by the electricity generation, transport and manufacturing sectors (around 80 per cent). The strong growth in the electricity generation sector reflects increased electrification in all end use sectors, in addition to rapid growth in a number of industries in which electricity is the prime fuel source, such as the commercial and nonferrous metals sectors.

The mining (principally coal mining, oil and gas extraction, and metal ore mining), electricity generation and commercial sectors experienced the fastest growth in energy consumption over the 25 year period. Growth in the mining sector, in particular, outstripped that of other sectors, averaging 6.4 per cent a year over the period. However, the mining and commercial sectors are relatively small consumers of energy, accounting for small shares of consumption (5.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively in 1997-98).

The mix of fuels in total energy consumption in Australia in 1973-74 and 1997-98 is shown in the following table

Australian Energy Consumption, by fuel

 

1973-74 per cent

1997-98 per cent

Crude oil

49

34

Brown coal

10

13

Black coal

26

29

Natural gas

7

18

Renewables

8

6

Consumption of natural gas increased by 688 petajoules from 1973-74 to 1997-98, at an average rate of 6.9 per cent a year. Correspondingly, the share of natural gas in total energy consumption had risen to 18 per cent by 1997-98 — almost triple the 1973-74 share. Over the same period, the share of crude oil fell from over 50 per cent to less than 34 per cent. The majority of these changes occurred in the decade to 1983-84.

The substitution of natural gas for oil occurred primarily in stationary applications such as boilers and kilns in the manufacturing sector, and cooking and heating appliances in the residential and commercial sectors. The use of natural gas as a fuel for thermal electricity generation also grew sharply to 1997-98, reaching almost five times the level in 1973-74, albeit from a fairly low base (its share of electricity generation rose from 5 per cent to 9 per cent).

Aggregate energy intensity of the economy declined by around 12.3 per cent of the period 1973-74 to 1997-98.  This was largely due to shifts in economic activity towards less energy-intensive sectors and activities, particularly in the latter part of this period.

Australia is an active proponent of open and competitive international markets and the removal of constraints to efficient market operation.  It is not expected that further liberalisation of international markets will have a significant impact on the extent and pattern of domestic energy use in Australia.  Given the importance of resources processing industries to Australia, their relative energy intensity and their significant share of Australia's exports, major changes in international demand for these products may have a modest influence on export-induced energy demand. 

Challenges  

80% of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions are from energy combustion.  Stationary energy accounts for 57%, of which 37% is from electricity.  Transport energy contributes 16% of net national emissions.  The road transport sector contributes 89.3% of transport sector emissions, and 14% of the overall national emissions.

The most significant impediments are the relatively high cost of renewable energy products and challenges faced by industry entering mainstream energy markets.  Others include a lack of knowledge and commitment among consumers about the industry, its products and their benefits; difficulties in attracting finance; and the fragmented nature of the industry.  These issues are currently being addressed through the implementation of the Renewable Energy Action Agenda.

Any remaining market-based impediments to the uptake of renewable energy will be addressed as part of the Government’s electricity market reform agenda. For more information, see web-site address: http://www.isr.gov.au/resources/energy_reform.html

Accessing venture capital to produce and market new environmentally friendly technologies can be difficult, particularly for small companies. 

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Government agencies produce a range of journals addressing energy and environment issues in broad context, as well as a number of program-specific newsletters.  Media statements are released by Ministers or by relevant agencies as initiatives are launched or progress reports produced.  

There is a similar pattern of activity at State Government level.  For example, the Reach for the Stars program (see web-site address http://www.energyrating.gov.au) is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian Governments.  It will target the high level of “green consumers” in Australia with major campaigns to promote the environmental and economic benefits of purchasing energy efficient appliances whose energy efficiency is denoted by labels displaying ‘star’ ratings .

Environment Australia also maintains an Australian Environmental Education Network web-site at http://www.environment.gov.au/education/aeen/communityy.html

Kits addressing energy and environment issues have been developed and provided to all Australian schools over the last decade.  They have been developed by specialists, in consultation with curriculum authorities.  A number of State agencies have also produced fact sheets dealing with the scientific aspects of different forms of energy.

These kits can be incorporated into a range of curriculum areas - eg language, mathematics, social studies - as well as into science streams.

The Australian Government released its ‘Environmental Education for a Sustainable Future - National Action Plan’ in July 2000.  The Action Plan was developed following an extensive community consultative process.  The Plan is intended to provide leadership to the many different sectors involved in environmental education activities and, importantly, promote better coordination of these activities.  It is also intended to be a starting point for an enhanced national effort in support of Australia's ecologically sustainable development (ESD).  See web-site address  http://www.environment.gov.au/education/nap.html for more information. 

The AGO is carrying out renewable industry vocational training with Technical and Further Education colleges, in conjunction with the Sustainable Energy Industries Association.  The aim is to train industry representatives about all aspects of sustainable energy, including information management. 

A computer-based tool has been developed to assist firms assess the technical and economic potential of co-generation as an energy supply.  Work is also proceeding with the National Utilities and Electro-technology Industry Training Advisory Board on the development of core competencies for alternative energy supply training, to complement the work on conventional energy supply training already undertaken by this Board.

Most energy efficiency and greenhouse response programs incorporate some element of consumer education.  “Green Power” schemes also have an element of consumer education in their marketing campaigns. They have been discussed earlier in relevant sections of this report.

Web-sites targeted at educating consumers include:  energyrating.gov.au and energystar.gov.au  A consumer’s guide to reducing environmental impacts and saving money is currently being develope

Information   

A substantial amount of statistical collection and analysis, dealing with most aspects of energy supply and use, is undertaken in Australia.  Some statistics are available on web-sites (listed below) and others can be purchased.  This work is being assessed for further improvement.  Detailed assessments of technology, programs and systems are undertaken by relevant government agencies as required.  Organisations undertaking statistical work relating to energy include:

In an effort to assist development of the renewable energy industry sector, a National Sustainable Energy Industry Survey is being developed between Commonwealth and State agencies, and the Sustainable Energy Industry Association. An Australian biomass atlas, which will assist research and development into biomass as an energy resource, is also being developed. 

There is a substantial amount of publicly available information on these issues.  Relevant web-sites have been referenced during the course of this report. Major web-sites include:

Department of Industry, Science and Resources: http://www.isr.gov.au/resources/netenergy/index.html  (This site also provides links to other Commonwealth, State Government and relevant private sector web-sites) http://www.isr.gov.au/agendas/Sectors/energy.html 

Australian Greenhouse Office: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au (This site has an extensive range of links into many of the policy and program initiatives outlined in this report)

Department of Transport and Regional Services: http://www.dotrs.gov.au 

Australian Taxation Office (for information on diesel fuel related rebate programs): http://www.taxreform.ato.gov.au.

Appliance Energy Rating/Labelling: http://www.energyrating.gov.au

Energy Star programs in Australia: http://www.energystar.gov.au

Environment Australia’s national Smogbusters web-site: http://www.environment.gov.au/epg/smogbusters

Research and Technologies   

The contribution of renewable energy to Australia’s total energy consumption has remained relatively constant at around 6 per cent in the period 1991-92 to 1998-99.  Black and brown coal have dominated Australia’s energy consumption during this period with a combined contribution of 41 per cent, followed by oil, 34 per cent and natural gas, 18 per cent. 

The 6 per cent of total energy use that came from renewable energy in 1998-99 came largely from: biomass (bagasse, used to generate electricity and steam), 38 per cent, up from 28 per cent in 1991-92; wood (primarily for home heating), 39 per cent, down from 45 per cent in 1991-92; and hydro-electricity, 21 per cent, down from 25 per cent in 1991-92 (see graph).  The contribution of solar was unchanged at 2 per cent.

In 1998-99, renewable sources represented almost 11 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation.  However, Australia's Mandatory Renewable Electricity Target of 9,500 gigawatt hours that will commence operation on 1 April 2001, will see this level increase to almost 13 per cent by 2010.   This mandated target and other Government programs directed at commercialisation of renewables are expected to provide an immediate and significant stimulus to renewable energy in Australia.

Australia does not use nuclear power for electricity generation.

 
 

 

All of these technologies, with the exception of nuclear energy, are regarded as having potential to varying degrees within Australia.  (It is a matter of government policy that Australia will not pursue a domestic nuclear energy industry).

For other technologies, technical feasibility is not a limiting factor.  The lack of cost competitiveness remains the major constraint.

There is already substantial exploitation of some forms of biomass in generation - particularly co-generation - facilities, notably in the use of bagasse.  There is some exploitation also of wood and wood waste. Both offer potential for further exploitation, subject to appropriate environmental requirements.  A pilot plant for the production of ethanol from wood waste is also being developed.

Other alternative energy options, notably photovoltaic and wind energy systems, offer considerable potential and are being increasingly exploited.  Opportunities for hybrid systems, particularly in remote power supply systems, also extend the scope for these technologies.  The major constraints at present are production costs.  Programs are in place to help offset the cost constraints.  Other measures, such as the mandatory renewable energy program, will further increase the potential for uptake of these alternatives and, over time, help improve cost competitiveness.

Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) aim to maximise the economic and social benefits of publicly funded R&D for the wider Australian community, through the establishment of formal, long-term collaborative arrangements between researchers, governments and industry.

Since the inception of the program in 1990, 72 CRCs have been established. There are currently five specific energy CRCs, dealing with: Mining Technology and Equipment; Petroleum; Clean Power from Lignite; Black Coal Utilisation; and Renewable Energy. Total program funding for all 5 programs was $11 million in 1999-00. See web-site address http://www.isr.gov.au/crc/index.html for more information on CRCs. 

The Technology Diffusion Program (TDP) aims to enhance Australian industry competitiveness by facilitating access to, and adoption of, new and leading-edge technologies, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. Allocated funding in 2000-01 is $20 million.   See web-site address http://www.isr.gov.au/tdp/

The Commonwealth Government also directly supports the operation of a number of specialist research and development agencies, whose work is relevant to energy issues, notably:

Financing   

Funding for energy resource exploration and development, production, transmission and distribution is sourced from publicly and privately owned, commercially independent corporations.  These corporations draw either on Australian or international funds sources in accordance with normal commercial practice.

The Commonwealth Government has established a national investment agency, Invest Australia, to facilitate international investment in major projects, including energy projects.  Funding for energy programs, particularly energy efficiency and energy-related greenhouse response programs, is normally provided via Commonwealth, State and Territory Government budgets.  Approximately $A1 billion has been set aside for these programs over the next 4-5 years. 

The Commonwealth Government administers various programs providing direct and indirect funding for research, development, demonstration, commercialisation and access to best practice technology.  These programs are not directed specifically towards energy projects, but energy projects are eligible to seek assistance through them.  They include:

R&D Tax Concession - the R&D tax concession enables Australian industry to claim a deduction of up to 125 per cent of qualifying expenditure incurred on R&D activities.  The concession is the Commonwealth Government's principal incentive to encourage Australian industry to undertake R&D activities.

R&D Start - this program provides a range of tailored options assisting businesses to fund R&D initiatives.

Concessional Loans for the commercialisation of technological innovation are available to companies/groups employing fewer than 100 persons. Loans are for 50 per cent of eligible project costs, with interest deferred during the first three years of the project, and then charged at 40 per cent of the Commonwealth Bank Index Rate. Projects must be completed within three years and the loan repaid in the following three years.

Value Chain Management (VCM) focuses on better management of value chains to assist industry realise opportunities and overcome barriers to growth. Program funding is approximately $3 million over three years, commencing 1999-2000. The Australian Government will provide up to $100,000 for each demonstration project.

Like the Renewable Energy Equity Fund, the Innovation Investment Fund (IIF) , aims to develop a venture capital market for technology-based firms seeking to commercialise research and development. Around $230 million in Australian Government funding will be matched by private sector investors, on an up-to 2:1 basis, over a 10-year period. All investment decisions will be made by private sector fund managers.

Pooled Development Funds (PDFs) are designed to increase the supply of equity capital for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). PDFs are private sector companies, established under the PDF Act, that raise capital from investors and use the capital to take equity in Australian SMEs through new shares. In return, PDFs and their shareholders are taxed at a lower rate on income generated through PDF activities. The PDF program provides opportunities for venture capitalists, SMEs and investors.

The Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) Program provides funding to increase the commercialisation of innovative products, processes and services.  It provides individuals, early-stage growth firms, and spin-off companies with a tailored package of support to improve their potential for successful commercialisation. Funding is around $30 million over three years

Cooperation  

Australia is an active participant in the information exchange and technology transfer initiatives of the International Energy Agency, particularly through the Energy and Environment Technology Information Centres (EETIC) and through relevant working groups within the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and other international organisations.

The Australian Government supports strong international networks facilitating open and competitive international energy markets.  Australia also values cooperation on energy policy development and implementation, including R&D cooperation and technology transfer.  The Australian Government assists this networking through continued involvement in:

Australian initiatives addressing current and/or potential obligations under these Protocols have been discussed above (see in particular initiatives listed under question 7 of Part V “Atmosphere’, and question 11 of this Part for information on Safeguarding the Future).  Australia will continue to participate in, and contribute to, international efforts to resolve outstanding issues relating to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Australian Government believes that Australia's Kyoto Protocol greenhouse target is challenging but achievable. It will require all sectors of the Australian economy to take steps to reduce emissions. The Australian Government is closely monitoring Australia's greenhouse response progress, and will continue to do so in consultation with State and Territory governments, and other stakeholders. 

Australia participates in, and contributes to, a number of forums relevant to energy co-operation.  They include:

·        Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) - Australia is an active participant in APEC and is convenor of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Energy Working Group. Current cooperation covers market reform, technology co-operation across all fuels and stages, energy security, energy efficiency and conservation, energy data, capacity building and minerals and energy resource development;

·        The International Energy Agency - as part of this membership, Australia participates in a number of international energy R&D collaborative projects (17 in total), which involve partnerships between industry and research organisations. The partnership agreements relate to: Energy Technology Systems Analysis (ETSA); Building and Community Systems; Demand-Side Management; Greenhouse Gases; SolarPACES; Solar Heating and Cooling; Photo-voltaics; Wind Turbines; Enhanced Oil Recovery; Stellarator; Coal Combustion Sciences; EETIC (combined CADDET and GreenTIES); Fossils Fuels Multiphase Flow Sciences; Geothermal Energy; Advanced Fuel Cells; International Centre for Gas Technology Information; and Bio-energy; and

 

Australia is co-operating bilaterally with a number of countries in the implementation of projects under the International Greenhouse Partnerships Program.  There are currently some 13 projects being implemented in seven countries.  Australia participates in additional co-operative ventures that do not necessarily fall within this program.  Examples include:

·        the ASEAN Energy from Biomass Residue Project, which is assisting ASEAN countries develop fluidised bed combustion (FBC) technologies for the production of combined heat and power from biomass;

·        support for a Renewable Energy Program in the South Pacific, in conjunction with France. The program will promote development of small-scale renewable energy technologies appropriate for the region; and

·        The Philippines Municipal Solar Infrastructure Project, which will soon be completed. Under this project, 1000 solar powered systems have been installed in seven provinces of the Visayas and Mindanao regions of the Philippines.

Australia will also provide $2 million to the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) in 1999-2000. Under the Agreed Framework, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) will freeze its use and development of plutonium producing graphite moderated reactors. In return, the DPRK will receive assistance from KEDO to construct light water type nuclear reactors (LWRs) and, until the LWRs are operational, shipments of heavy oil.

 

* * * 

This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th, 6th and 9th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: April 2001.

Click here for Safeguarding the Future: Australia's Response to Climate Change'.

Click here for the Sustainable Energy Policy for Australia Green Paper.

Click here for the Australian Greenhouse Office.

Click here for Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council (ANZMEC).

Click here for Minerals & Petroleum, Resources Policy Statement

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FORESTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Commonwealth Government is Australia's national government and is responsible for coordinating a national approach to both environmental and ecologically sustainable management of forests for wood production. It has an interest in achieving the efficient and effective management of the nation's resources. The Commonwealth Government enacts legislation to achieve national policies and is also responsible for Australia's international affairs and international treaty obligations.

The State and Territory governments have direct responsibility for forest management through their constitutional responsibility for land use decisions and their ownership of large areas of forest. Each State and Territory government has enacted legislation that allocates forest land tenures and specifies how public and private forests are managed.

Local governments have responsibilities for local land use planning and rating systems, which affect public and private forest management and use.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

In 1992, the Commonwealth and State governments developed a common policy position on forests, known as the National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS). The NFPS is the primary means by which the objective of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biodiversity will be accomplished in forest ecosystems. The NFPS sets out objectives concerning conservation, wood production and timber industries development, use of private native forests, development of plantations, water supply and catchment area management, tourism development, employment, workforce education, public awareness and involvement, research and development, and the further development of intergovernmental arrangements and the decision making process.

A key element of the approach adopted under the NFPS involves Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) between the Commonwealth and State governments, which are being developed following comprehensive studies of forest values and consultation with stakeholders. After December 31 1999 the export of hardwood woodchips will be prohibited from areas not covered by an RFA. The agreements seek to conserve the full suite of environmental and heritage values that forests can provide for current and future generations by ensuring the forest conservation reserve system is comprehensive, adequate and representative (known as the CAR reserve system) and through the complementary ecologically sustainable management of forests outside reserves in regions to which RFAs apply.

The following criteria are applied flexibly to define these forest reserves - 15% of the pre-1750 distribution of each forest type, 60% of the old-growth forest and 90% or more of high quality wilderness.

Secure access to wood resources is provided through these agreements, enabling continued development of internationally competitive and ecologically sustainable industries. Furthermore, the Commonwealth Government is reforming national forest stakeholder advisory bodies to ensure communication between governments, industry, unions and conservation organizations. In 1992, the High Court of Australia gave formal recognition to the common law native title rights of Australia's Indigenous inhabitants and the Commonwealth Government passed the Native Title Act 1993 as a consequence.

By the end of 1999 RFAs are expected to be finalised for 12 forest regions in five States. Approximately 6 million hectares of forest were set aside from logging pending finalisation of RFAs. These arrangements ensured that options remained open from which to establish a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system. About 20% of forests are in declared nature conservation reserves with at least a further 8% managed as conservation reserves within multiple use forests, also known as State Forests. Most State governments already have comprehensive codes of forest practice in place. Six RFAs have been completed. In Victoria the East Gippsland, Central Highlands and North East RFAs were signed in February 1997, March 1998 and August 1999 respectively. An RFA for the whole of Tasmania was signed in November 1997, and RFAs for South West West Australia and Eden in NSW were signed in May 1999 and August 1999.

Australia has a solid framework for the delivery of sustainable forest management. This framework includes:

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development outlines a sectoral and intersectoral approach to sustainable development. The Strategy was endorsed and released by the Council of Australian Governments. It outlines key objectives for the management of Australia's native forests. The Council agreed that future development of relevant programs and policies, particularly those which are national in character, should take place within the framework of the Strategy and the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment.

Australia's National Forest Policy sets out broad conservation and industry goals for the management of Australia's forests. To implement this national policy, Governments have opted for an approach that involves:

Together these mechanisms have improved the harmonisation of cross-sectoral polices related to forests.

A Wood and Paper Industry Strategy was announced in 1995 and comprised a four year Federal Government initiative to encourage investment, value adding and jobs growth in the forest industries. The Strategy details actions to promote continued development of a diverse, internationally competitive industry based on ecologically sustainable management practices. It is a key element in integrating industry and conservation objectives for Australia's native forests and plantations.

In October 1997, governments and industry agreed on a strategy called - Plantations for Australia: the 2020 Vision aimed at trebling Australia's forest plantation estate by the year 2020. The Plantations 2020 Vision initiative builds on a target to treble the nation's plantation estate over the period 1996-2020. This target was adopted by industry following the release of a joint Commonwealth-State-industry report. The primary objective of the Plantations 2020 Vision is to build internationally competitive and commercially orientated plantation growing and processing industries. It aims to ensure that plantation forestry in Australia presents as a model of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Environmental benefits include a substantial contribution to reducing Australia's net greenhouse gas emissions and improved land management outcomes. Other expected benefits include a turnaround in the trade deficit for wood and wood products, rural development (including creation of up to 40,000 jobs) and diversification of rural incomes.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Indigenous Australians possess a range of land titles. These fall into a number of categories including general titles, specific statutory titles, and specific common law titles. The general titles include purchased freehold and leasehold titles (for example, land purchased by the Indigenous Land Corporation). The specific statutory titles include: inalienable freehold (Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 (SA)), statutory trusts (Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 (WA)), deeds of grant in trust (Land Act 1962-1988 (Qld), Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld)), Aboriginal Reserves, and excisions and community living area (Crown Lands Act 1991 (NT), Pastoral Land Act 1992 (NT)).

The rights arising from these titles include access rights, rights to hunt and fish, rights to exclusive possession and rights which are roughly equivalent to private freehold. There are also procedural rights held by indigenous people which exceed those available to the wider community. These include the right to negotiate in relation to actions which may affect the use and enjoyment of native title (Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), ss.25-44.) and the right to veto mining exploration on Aboriginal land (Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), s.42).

Generally, Aboriginal land is held communally either by native title holders or by a community organisation in trust for the benefit of traditional owners, etc.

Programmes and Projects   

The Farm Forestry Program (FFP) is one of sixteen environmental programs funded by the Natural Heritage Trust, the foundation of the Commonwealth Government's program to restore and conserve Australia's land, vegetation, rivers, biodiversity, coast and seas.

The FFP, administered by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry aims to promote:

The FFP continues to raise the national awareness of farm forestry, promoting a shift in the culture of landowners towards growing trees for commercial purposes to meet economic and environmental objectives. In addition, under the program fourteen Regional Plantation Committees have been established to address planning and coordination issues at the regional level, and to act as a catalyst for plantation and farm forestry development.

The Community Rainforest Reforestation Program in North Queensland was developed as part of responses to the cessation of logging following listing of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area. It aims to develop plantations of high quality cabinet timbers for future high value added products.

A four year Forest Ecotourism Program to encourage and facilitate ecologically sustainable forest tourism, development and operations concluded in 1996 after funding 72 projects with a budget of $1.9 million.

Status 

Australia has attended all Intergovernmental Panel on Forest sessions and many intersessional initiatives. Australia has endorsed the IPF proposals for action and has actively supported the IFF. Australia, in support of the IPF Secretariat, sponsored an intersessional meeting of experts on Certification and Labelling from 26 to 31 May 1996 in Brisbane, Australia. Australia has assessed the relevance of the IPF proposals for action against the Australian situation. This assessment highlighted that about half of the IPF proposals are relevant for implementation within Australia.

A preliminary assessment in 1998 and recent assessment in 1999 has indicated that Australia has made good progress with the implementation of a range of programs related to the IPF proposals at both the Commonwealth and State/Territory Government levels. In some cases the programs will be ongoing for a number of years (such as Regional Forest Agreements) and in a few cases some further consideration may need to be given to ensure Australia's programs fully meet the intent of the IPF proposals. It is possible that Australia might need to launch additional programs to cover some of these proposals.

Implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests' Proposals for
Action by Australia

To assist with an assessment of the implementation of the IPF Proposals for Action in Australia, the IPF proposals have been summarised and similar proposals grouped together. The summarised text will be used as the basis for assessing the priorities for implementation and the progress with implementation. These assessments will be undertaken in relation both to implementation of the IPF proposals within Australia and implementation by Australia in its international forests programs. To enable cross references with the original negotiated IPF text, the following tables identify to the relevant IPF paragraphs for each summarised proposal for action. The following system has been used to assign priorities for implementation and progress with implementation in this assessment:

Priority for Implementation

  Progress with Implementation  

Symbol

Priority

Symbol

Progress

NR

Not Relevant

0

Not Started

L

Low

1

Program Commenced

M

Medium

2

Considerable Progress

H

High

3

Completed

When assigning priorities and progress for each Summarised Proposal for Action, the assessment has been made on the basis of generalised rankings for programs across the whole of Australia and in all of Australia's international programs. However, it is recognised that priorities and progress for the one Proposal for Action may vary around Australia and in different international programs.

Stakeholders are requested to provide comment on the assessment of priorities and progress with implementation for each Summarised Proposal for Action.

I. IMPLEMENTATION OF UNCED FOREST RELATED DECISIONS AT THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS

 

Summarised Proposal For Action Paragraph Australia International

 

IA Progress Through National Forest and Land-use Programmes

1. Develop and implement a holistic national forest programme which integrates the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources and values in a way that is consistent with national, sub-national and local policies and strategies. 17a H3 H2
2. Improve co-operation and co-ordination systems in support of sustainable forest management within national forest programmes which involve all stakeholders including indigenous people, forest owners and local communities in forest decision making. 17b, 17f, 17h, 40e M2 M2
3. Monitor and evaluate implementation progress of a national forest programme including the use of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. 17a, 17d H1 H1

 

IB Underlying Causes of Deforestation and Forest Degradation

1. Study and analyse historical and underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation to provide factual information to improve public understanding and forest decision making. 27a, 27b, 27c L1 M1
2. Develop and implement national policy goals and strategies for addressing deforestation and forest degradation in a participatory manner. 29a, 29b M2 M1

3. Assess the long term trends in the supply and demand for wood, promote sustainability of supply and strengthen institutions involved in forest and plantation management.

28a M2 M1

4. Enhance the role of plantations as a mechanism for reducing deforestation and forest degradation of natural forests.

28b H2 M1

 

IC Traditional Forest - Related Knowledge (TFRK)

1. Collaborate with and enhance the capacity of indigenous people to identify, map and promote the understanding of Traditional Forest Related Knowledge at the local, national and international levels. 40a, 40g, 40j, 40n M1 L1
2. Take measures including the application of intellectual property rights to respect, maintain, and protect Traditional Forest Related Knowledge. 40c, 40d, 40p, 40b L1 L1
3. Develop and implement policies and mechanisms to secure land tenure and for equitable sharing of forest related benefits with local communities and indigenous people and document successful approaches. 40f, 40r,

29c, 40c

L2 M1
4. Support traditional resource use systems and establish stronger linkages to sustainable forest management systems. 40h, 40i L1 NR
5. Assist networks that promote sharing of Traditional Forest Related Knowledge and include TFRK in forest management training programmes. 40l, 40m L1 NR

 

Summarised Proposal For Action Paragraph Australia International

ID Fragile Systems Affected by Desertification and Drought

1. Analyse past experiences and monitor trends in dry land forests, including biophysical, social, economic and institutional factors. 46b M2 NR
2. Undertake integrated and co-ordinated actions to address dryland forest issues at the international, national and local levels. 46a, 46f M2 L1
3. Develop and support partnerships which include indigenous and local communities and management approaches, including those that embody traditional lifestyles, to reduce pressures on dryland forests and promote their sustainable management and regeneration. 46d, 46e M2 L1
4. Establish protected areas to safeguard dryland forests and related ecosystems. 46c M1 NR

IE Impact of Airborne Pollution on Forests

1.Develop national assessment and monitoring methods, extend regional programmes for monitoring impacts of air pollution and provide factual information about transboundary air pollution. 50c, 50d, 27c NR NR
2. Adopt a preventative approach to the reduction of damaging air pollution. 50a L2 NR
3. Strengthen international cooperation and action with respect to reducing long- range air pollution. 50b, 50e NR NR

 

IF Needs and Requirements of developing and Other Countries With Low Forest Cover

1. Seek long term security of forest goods and services through the development of a national forest programme and where appropriate define a permanent forest estate. 58b(i) NR NR
2. Analyse and take into account the related social, economic and environmental implications, costs and benefits of non-wood substitutes and imports of forest products. 58b(iv) NR NR
3. Take positive action towards reforestation, afforestation and conservation including regeneration of degraded forests, management of plantations and the expansion of protected areas. 58b(ii), 58b(iii), 58b(v), 58c, 58b(vi) NR NR
4. Establish and manage plantations to enhance production of forest goods and services, taking into account relevant social, cultural, economic and environmental considerations in the selection of species, areas and silviculture systems. 58b(ii), NR NR

 

II. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

 

IIA Financial Assistance

Summarised Proposal For Action Paragraph Australia International

 

1. Consider the provision of new and additional financial resources to developing countries for sustainable forest management. 67a NR L0
2. Assist developing countries to identify and prioritise resource needs for sustainable forest management, the analysis of causes of deforestation and forest degradation and certification and labelling. 67b, 67c, 30b, 133b NR M1
3. Explore and expand innovative financial mechanisms including concessional lending and debt relief initiatives to support sustainable forest management and national forest programs. 67e, 67g, 71c NR L0
4. Develop appropriate policies, legislation and mechanisms to encourage private sector reinvestment of forest revenues and profits into sustainable forest management and create incentives to encourage private sector investment in sustainable forest management in developing countries and countries in transition. 69b, 69c, 69d, 69e M2 M1
5.Develop and implement market based mechanisms to increase forest revenues, reduce social and environmental costs and generate financial resources for sustainable forest management. 70b, 69c M1 M1
6. Enhance Government, community and forest owner financing for, and facilitate local participation and investment in, sustainable forest management. 70c, 77f L2 M2
7. Enhance co-ordination and collaboration between donors, international institutions and instruments related to forests and explore appropriate indicators for monitoring and evaluating donor funded forest programs. 71a, 71b NR M1
8. Support co-ordinated deployment of resources for sustainable forest management through national forest programs. 70a, 70d, 17g NR M2

 

IIB Technology Transfer and Capacity Building and Information

1. Assess technological requirements necessary to achieve sustainable forest management. 77b L2 M2
2. Strengthen cooperation and financing to promote access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies. 77a, 77c, NR M2
3. Formulate appropriate policies and provide capacity building to encourage the use and adaptation of environmentally sustainable technologies, including traditional forest related knowledge for utilisation of lesser-used species. 77d, 77e, 132c L2 M2
4. Establish new and improved mechanisms to assist with the wide access to and the interpretation of information on sustainable forest management. 78a, 78b, 58b(ii) NR M1

 

Summarised Proposal For Action Paragraph Australia International

 

5. Include capacity building as an objective of national forest program, including support for indigenous people, local forest dependent communities, forest owners and forest managers. 77f, 17g 70e, 58b(vi), L1 H2

III. SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, FOREST ASSESSMENT AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CRITERIA AND INDICATORS FOR SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

IIIA Assessment of the Multiple Benefits of All Types of Forests

1. Improve national forest resource assessment, forest statistics and the capacity to analyse this information. 89b H2 M2
2. Contribute national data on timber and non timber values to the FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment 2000. 89d, M3 L2
3 Consult with all relevant stakeholders to identify the full range of benefits derived from forests. 89h H2 NR

 

IIIB Forest Research

1. Identify and prioritise interdisciplinary forest research needs on an eco-regional basis. 94a M2 M0
2. Mobilise resources, build capacity and promote global forest research networks and consortia to extend forest research at the local, national and international levels. 94a, 94d M2 M1
3. Develop research and information systems to facilitate decisions related to national forest programs and to disseminate information to all users. 58b(vii) 94a M2 M1
4. Involve all interested parties in the extension, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of forest research. 17e, 94d H2 L2
5. Extend research into forest inventory, monitoring and the valuation of forest goods and services. 89c, 104c M2 NR
6. Promote research into the rehabilitation and extension of dryland forests as well as into Traditional Forest Related Knowledge with the full involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities. 40k, 46g L1 L0

 

IIIC Methodologies for the Proper Valuation of the Multiple Benefits of Forests

1. Improve the estimates of values of all forest goods and services and consider these with environmental and social information in forest decision processes. 104a M2 NR

 

IIID Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for Sustainable Forest Management

1. Prepare national (and sub national) criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in a participatory manner and integrate these into the national forest programme and national forest assessments. 115a, 17d, 89a H2 NR

 

Summarised Proposal For Action Paragraph Australia International

 

2. Field test, implement and promote the use of criteria and indicators for promoting sustainable forest practices. 115a, 115b H2 M1
3. Encourage involvement in international/regional C&I initiatives and support efforts to harmonise concepts and definitions related to C&I. 115c, 115d NR H2
4. Develop appropriate criteria and indicators for TFRK and air pollution. 40l, 50d NR NR

 

IV. TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT IN RELATION TO FOREST PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Market Access (Sub titles added for purpose of this summary)

1. Study the environmental, social and economic impacts of trade ? related measures affecting forest products and services. 128a NR M2
2. Undertake measures for improving market access for forest goods and services, including the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in that context to promote a mutually supportive relationship between environment and trade. 128b NR M2
3. Develop and implement codes of conduct to encourage private sector activities consistent with sustainable forest management. 69a, 128c H2 H2

 

Relative Competitiveness of Forest Products

4. Gather information and conduct market and economic studies of the potential competition between wood and non-wood substitutes analysing the impact on sustainable forest management. 131a L1 L1
5. Support developing countries to increase downstream processing and community-based processing of wood and non-timber forest products. 131b NR M2

 

Lesser Used Forest Species

6. Intensify efforts and implement policies to promote the sustainable use of all economically viable lesser used species in domestic and international markets. 132a, 132b NR L2

 

Certification and Labelling

7. Consider the relationships between sustainable forest management, trade and voluntary certification and labelling schemes, carry out studies on their impacts and their effectiveness in promoting sustainable forest management and exchange information and experience on these schemes. 133a, 133d, 133g M2 M2
8. Support the application of accessibility, credibility, cost-effectiveness, transparency and participatory concepts to certification & labelling schemes, promote comparability and avoid duplication of efforts among such schemes. 133c, 133f H2 H2

 

Full Cost Internalisation

9. Explore ways to establish full cost internalisation of both wood products and non-wood substitutes, undertake analyses of their implications for sustainable forest management and share information on findings and implementation experience. 134a, 134b M2 NR

 

Market Transparency

10. Expand work on market transparency for trade in forest products & services and consider measures to counter illegal trade in forest products. 135a, 135b L2 M2

 

Summarised Proposal For Action Paragraph Australia International

 

V. INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS AND MULTILATERAL INSTITUTIONS AND INSTRUMENT INCLUDING APPROPRIATE LEGAL MECHANISMS

1. Support the forest work undertaken by international and regional organisations and under relevant international instruments and encourage them to incorporate the relevant results of UNCED and related activities, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests' proposals for action. 146a

146d

NR M2
2. Clarify the forest related mandates of international institutions to improve integration and coordination and eliminate duplication of their efforts. 146b

146c

NR M1

Challenges

Areas where Australia could undertake new actions are; monitoring and reporting of the implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forest proposals for action, additional work relating to traditional forest related knowledge, conservation of dryland forests and research into forest valuation methods.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The Commonwealth Government has committed A$30 million to a program to protect environmental values on private land as part of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement. This money is aimed at protecting biodiversity values on private land where reservation targets were not met on public land. Rare or depleted ecological communities will be protected through stewardship agreements and purchase of land. Participation is on a voluntary basis only and landowners are encouraged to play an active role in formulation of management plans.

Information  

A National Forest Inventory was set up in 1989. A national State of the Forests report is to be produced every five years, with Australia's inaugural State of the Forests report having been published in 1998.

Australia is an active participant in the work of the 'Montreal Process' Working Group on criteria and indicators for the conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests, the International Tropical Timber Organization and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests. In 1997, under the auspices of the Montreal Process, Australia produced its First Approximation Report, the first time Australia has attempted to report against criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. Australia has also developed a sub-national framework of indicators based on internationally agreed Montreal Process criteria and indicators. This framework provides a basis for integrated data collection that will enable consistent reporting on sustainability for regional national and international purposes.

As a tool for reporting, Australia is committed to using the Montreal Process criteria and indicator framework for reporting on forest condition and progress towards sustainable forest management. A regional (sub-national) framework of regional indicators of sustainable forest management in Australia was developed over a two-year period and endorsed by Forestry and Environment Ministers in 1998. The framework is based on the internationally agreed Montreal Process criteria and indicators. The framework provides the basis for collection of forest related data and will be used for a variety of purposes including state of forest reporting, state of the environment reporting, and monitoring of RFA outcomes. Regional Forest Agreements last for 20 years, and over the life of the agreements public forest management agencies will report against a subset of the Montreal Process indicators at five-yearly intervals. The Commonwealth Government is currently negotiating with State governments the set of indicators that are to be used for each RFA region. Data on private forests is a significant area that will require improvement for monitoring.

As a tool for policy development, Australia recognises that, over time, the implementation of the regional framework of criteria and indicators will provide information that will be used for policy development. However, it is the suite of criteria and indicators that will be considered, not simply one criterion. This holistic approach is recognised as being one of the strengths of the Montreal Process. Australia is in the early stages of implementation and has identified priority indicators from the regional framework (categorised as A, B and C - See table 1). These indicators cover all seven Montreal Process criteria. Information gathered will play a significant role in the 5-yearly reviews of RFAs. Depending on findings from these reviews, policies may be amended or developed.

As a tool for policy monitoring, as above, Australia considers the data collected against indicators will provide useful information for monitoring the effectiveness of forest policies. It is envisaged that the monitoring results for the Regional Forest Agreement criteria and indicators will be publicly released after each five-yearly review to better inform public debate on forest management issues. 

Table 1: Phased implementation of indicators

Category A?Largely implementable now Category B?Require some development Category C?Require longer-term R&D
1.1.a Extent of area by forest type and tenure. (Amended to include 1.1.c)

1.1.b Area of forest type by growth stage distribution by tenure. (Amended to include 1.1.d)

1.2.a A list of forest dwelling species.

1.2.b The status (threatened, rare, vulnerable, endangered, or extinct) of forest dwelling species at risk of not maintaining viable breeding populations, as determined by legislation or scientific assessment.

2.1.a Area of forest land and net area of forest land available for timber production.

2.1.d Annual removal of wood products compared to the sustainable volume.

2.1.f Area and per cent of plantation established meeting effective stocking one year after planting.

2.1.g Area and per cent of harvested area of native forest effectively regenerated.

3.1.a Area and per cent of forest affected by processes or agents that may change ecosystem health and vitality. (A narrative as interim)

4.1.a (Interim) Area and per cent of forest land systematically assessed for soil erosion hazard, and for which site-varying scientifically-based measures to protect soil and water values are implemented.

6.2.c Number of visits per annum.

6.5.a Direct and indirect employment in the forest sector and forest sector employment as a proportion of total employment. (Direct)

7.1 (Narrative) Extent to which the legal framework (laws, regulations, guidelines) supports the conservation and sustainable management of forests.

7.2 (Narrative) Extent to which the institutional framework supports the conservation and sustainable management of forests.

7.4 (Narrative) Capacity to measure and monitor changes in the conservation and sustainable management of forests.

7.5 (Narrative) Capacity to conduct and apply research and development aimed at improving forest management and delivery of forest goods and services.

1.1.e Fragmentation of forest types.

5.1.a Total forest ecosystem biomass and carbon pool, and if appropriate, by forest type, age class, and successional stages.

6.1.a Value and volume of wood and wood products production, including value added through downstream processing.

6.3.a Value of investment, including investment in forest growing, forest health and management, planted forests, wood processing, recreation and tourism.

6.4.a(i) (priority areas) Area and per cent of forest land in defined tenures, management regimes and zonings which are formally managed in a manner which protect Indigenous peoples' cultural, social, religious and spiritual values, including non-consumptive appreciation of country.

6.4.a(ii) Proportion of places of non-Indigenous cultural values in forests formally managed to protect these values.

6.5.a Direct and indirect employment in the forest sector and forest sector employment as a proportion of total employment. (Indirect)

6.6.a Extent to which the management framework maintains and enhances Indigenous values including customary, traditional and native title use by Indigenous peoples and for Indigenous participation in forest management.

1.2.c Population levels of representative species from diverse habitats monitored across their range.

1.3.a Amount of genetic variation within and between populations of representative forest dwelling species.

3.1.a Area and per cent of forest affected by processes or agents that may change ecosystem health and vitality.

3.1.c Area and percentage of forest land with diminished or improved biological, physical and chemical components indicative of changes in fundamental ecological processes.

4.1.c Per cent of stream kilometres in forested catchments in which stream flow and timing has significantly deviated from the historic range of variation.

4.1.d Area and per cent of forest land with significantly diminished soil organic matter and/or changes in other soil chemical properties.

4.1.d (Interim) The total quantity of organic carbon in the forest floor (< 25 mm diameter components) and the surface 30 cm of soil.

4.1.e Area and per cent of forest land with significant compaction or change in soil physical properties resulting from human activities.

4.1.f Per cent of water bodies in forest areas (e.g. stream kilometres, lake hectares) with significant variance of biological diversity from the historic range of variability.

6.1.b Value and quantities of production of non-wood forest products.

6.2.b Number, range and use of recreation/tourism activities available in a given region.

6.5.c(i) Viability and adaptability to changing social and economic conditions of forest dependent communities.

6.5.c(ii) Viability and adaptability of forest dependent Indigenous communities.

Total: 12 indicators & 4 sub-criteria Total: 8 indicators Total: 13 indicators

Australia has not yet undertaken an analysis on which of the criteria and indicators used in Australia could be useful to assess progress towards sustainable forest management at the international level. However, our domestic process has identified the indicators in Table 1 (Category A, B and C) as being priority indicators. Given that Category B and C indicators are not fully implementable in Australia at present, Category A indicators could provide a basis for use at the international level. However, Australia supports the view that implementation of indicators by countries should be on a voluntary basis.

Australia supports the concept of continuous improvement in implementing indicators and suggests that this approach should be adopted at the international level. Australia has dedicated considerable resources to indicator development and associated scientific research. There will be regular reviews of indicator implementation with a view to improving the quality and variety of indicators. International co-operation could then assist countries in progressing further.

In terms of efficiency and consistency, Australia recognises there is potential in some form of harmonisation of criteria and indicators. At present there seems to be considerable commonality between some of the criteria and indicator process.

Information on sustainable forest management is made available to potential users through a number of avenues notably Australia's State of the Forest Report and Montreal Process First Approximation Report. Australia's framework of regional (sub-national) level criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management in Australia is also publicly available. Stakeholder involvement is also an important component of the forest related activities in Australia, including the RFA process and the work on criteria and indicators. Key activities related to sustainable forest management including the above are available on the Internet at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ? Australia, Forestry, website, (http://www.affa.gov.au/affa/subjects/forestry.html#14) and Regional Forestry Agreement website ( http://www.rfa.gov.au/).

Research and Technologies   

Continued research and development into Australia's forests and forest industries is undertaken by the Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Corporation, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, universities, State agencies and private companies.

Australia is considering developing a national forestry standard that could be used as a basis for forest certification in Australia. Any standard developed in Australia will be:

Australia is also interested in exploring an internationally cooperative approach to the voluntary labeling of timber from certified forests, based on national approaches to sustainable forest management.

In 1992 the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Strategy set a 50% target for the reduction of waste going landfill by the year 2000. June 1997 figures showed that paper production as a whole is in line with this general target: about 50% of paper is currently being recycled, but only 25% of available high grade paper is recovered for recycling.

Financing 

The Natural Heritage Trust was established by the Commonwealth Government in 1996. Its goal is to stimulate activities in the national interest to achieve the conservation, sustainable use and repair of Australia's natural environment. The Trust focuses on five key environmental themes ?land, vegetation, rivers, coasts and marine, and biodiversity.

Cooperation  

Australia has continued to promote the development of sustainable forest management in international fora as well as supporting regional initiatives. As part of Australia's contribution to the work of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development's Intergovernmental Panel on Forests and its successor the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, Australia hosted the International Conference on Certification and Labelling of Products from Sustainably Managed Forests in 1996, funded a consultancy to undertake a study on the global outlook for plantations in 1999 and co-ordinated the development of a paper on international forest conservation and protected areas also in 1999.

AusAID, the Australian Agency for International Development, uses a variety of channels to support sustainable forest management and conservation, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Assistance is provided through bilateral and regional projects; contributions to multilateral agencies (such as the World Bank; the ADB and ITTO); and Australian NGOs. Australia also supports international forestry research activities through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Aid expenditure in the forest sector has averaged around A$15 million per annum over the past five years. Australia is a major supporter of the World Heritage Convention and already has a number of World Heritage areas containing significant forest, including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Fraser Island, the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (Australia), and Kakadu National Park.

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th, 6th, and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1999.

Click here for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Click here for the National Forest Policy Statement.

Click here for the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity

Click here for Forest legislation

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FRESHWATER

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Under Australia's federal system of government, the six States and two Territories have primary responsibility for natural resource management. All of the nation's governments have recognized the need to work together in developing a major national integrated framework for the efficient and sustainable reform of Australia's water industry. Each State/Territory has an agency (departments or statutory authorities) to undertake various activities relating to catchment management, water resource allocation and water harvesting, storage and distribution as well as land management, nature conservation and environment protection. 

 

At the Federal level, the Department of Primary Industries and Energy (DPIE) and the Department of the Environment (EA) are the main agencies responsible for natural resource and environmental management. Their role is primarily one of policy development, leadership and facilitation.  The activities of the States and Territories in water management are highly significant because they have primary responsibility under constitutional arrangements.

Each State and Territory has established a variety of institutional arrangements, legislation, policies and programs for water and catchment management. To this end States have endorsed a comprehensive reform program for water resource management, under COAG, which is to be fully implemented by the year 2001.  Overall coordination is effected through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), relevant Ministerial Councils, including the Agriculture and Resources Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ), the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MDBC), and the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC), as well as related working groups reporting to these bodies. 

The Murray-Darling Basin is a major region in Australia facing significant resource degradation issues, which are being addressed through integrated approaches. It occupies one-seventh of the nation's landmass and is one of the most important agricultural production areas in Australia. A significant achievement in 1995 was the completion by the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Commission (which involves the Federal and four State governments) of a comprehensive audit of current and future water use in the Basin. This action marked indicated the dramatic impact on the environment that diversions have had on the river systems.

Policy directions for the management of the Basin are established through the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MDBMC), which comprises 12 Ministers holding portfolios for land, water and environmental issues within the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian and Victorian Governments. MDBC is a unique organization, being equally responsible to each of the governments represented on the Council, but it is not a government department or a statutory body of an individual government. 

The Great Artesian Basin Consultative Council arose from a Forum held in Brisbane in January 1995 and has been supported by the Commonwealth Government of Australia and all jurisdictions directly involved in the Great Artesian Basin, by groundwater users, and by various sectoral groups with an interest in groundwater and associated natural resource management. 

The Commonwealth Government of Australia has established the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) which is the central plank of the Government's commitment to natural resource management and the environment Under the NHT, there is a strong emphasis on community involvement in program planning and implementation. The Natural Heritage Trust Ministerial Board comprises the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy. The Board is the formal mechanism for liaison and cooperation between the Environment and the Primary Industries and Energy portfolios to ensure the integration of programs. Expert advice is provided to the Board through advisory committees such as the National Landcare Advisory Committee, the Biological Diversity Advisory Council, the Council for Sustainable Vegetation Management, and the Natural Heritage Trust Advisory Committee.

The majority of responsibility for water resource management lies primarily with State/Territory and Local governments, with a wide range of planning legislation and requirements existing throughout the country.  

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands entered into force in Australia on 21 December 1973.  
Relevant legislation includes: 

Water resources legislation is currently being developed for ACT as well.  State legislation for protection of waters includes the Environmental Protection Act (1994) and subordinate legislation, and the State Environmental Protection (Water) Policy (1997). Both are administered by the Queensland Department of Environment. Each contains provisions for management of both point and diffuse sources of pollution to waters. Point source discharges are managed through environmental licensing. Diffuse source pollution will be managed through a range of industry policies being developed under the auspices of the EPP Water. The State also has an Integrated Catchment management Program (administered by the Department of Natural Resources) which in the longer term will result in the development of catchment management plans throughout the State.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Strategies

The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD) identifies the need to develop and manage, in an integrated fashion, the quality and quantity of surface- and groundwater resources, and to develop mechanisms for water resource management aimed at maintaining ecological systems while meeting economic, social and community needs. Specific objectives are (1) to develop water management policies which are based on an integrated approach to the development and management of water and (2) to develop and implement the most effective mix of water resource management mechanisms (including pricing, regulation, monitoring, institutional arrangements and property rights).

In addition, Australia has developed a number of strategies that address specific aspects of freshwater management. These include the following:

1.             The Natural Resource Management Strategy (NRMS) provides an integrated catchment approach to the problems of river basins. Its goal is to promote and coordinate effective planning and management for the equitable efficient and sustainable use of the natural resources of the basins. Major program areas under the NRMS include: Irrigation Salinity and Drainage, Dryland Salinity, Wetlands, Blue Green Algae, Native fish and Irrigation.

2.             Water quality is being addressed through the National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS). The NWQMS adopts a consistent approach to the whole of the water cycle, while allowing flexibility to respond to differing regional and local circumstances. A key element of the process is community consultation. The strategy sets out a national framework within which States and Territories will develop appropriate action plans for the waters in their region. Under the NQWMS guidelines, industry-specific water resources guidelines are being developed.

3.             The Commonwealth Government of Australia initiated a cleaner production program in 1993, and in November 1996, the ANZECC agreed to develop a National Strategy for Cleaner Production. The key objective of the Strategy is to establish a framework that provides industry with the incentive, the information and the capacity to improve its environmental performance in design, production and delivery of goods and services to the community.

4.             A National Strategic Framework for Water Reform, which was agreed by all governments through the Council of Australian Governments in February 1994, establishes a structured program of reform measures to achieve more efficient and sustainable water resource use. State and Territory Governments have prime responsibility for water resource management and implementation of the reforms. The Federal Government, and particularly the Department of Primary Industries and Energy (DPIE) and the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST), have complementary roles in the reform process in providing leadership and facilitating implementation, in the interest of promoting national outcomes.

5.             The principal objective of the National Disaster Mitigation Strategy is to facilitate and support the development and implementation of disaster mitigation by all Australians, by all sectors, community groups, associations and individuals. The premise of disaster mitigation is that, while some hazardous events may be unavoidable, their impacts can be reduced and in some cases prevented altogether. The key lies with prepared communities, which are aware of the risks they face and take action to reduce risks by investing in a systematic program of disaster mitigation.

Policies and Reforms

1.           The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) framework provides the water resource pricing policy for Australia. The COAG framework is aimed at developing water prices which not only cover business or operating costs, but also provide for infrastructure refurbishment or replacement, thereby ensuring that the water industry is able to maintain or improve system delivery efficiency.

A focus on appropriate water pricing is, however, not only about meeting future infrastructure needs. It is also about achieving greater efficiency in the industry. Australia's experience has been that this can occur at the individual user level, as well as at the broader irrigation district level. Progress in achieving efficiencies in water use can also be complemented by improvements in the way water is managed and delivered through the COAG framework measures, which address institutional or organizational reform. 

2.           The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Water Reform Framework has been established for the efficient and sustainable reform of the Australian water industry, to be fully implemented by the year 2001. Major elements of this framework include the following: (1) water pricing based on consumption-based pricing and full cost recovery; (2) the reduction or elimination of cross-subsidies; (3) clarification of property rights; (4) allocation of water for the environment; (5) adoption of trading arrangements for water; (6) institutional reform; and (7) public consultation and participation. 

Since around 70% of Australia's harvested water resources are used for irrigated agriculture, the changes flowing from the framework will be far-reaching in their implications for rural areas. A transitional period of five to eight years has been adopted to implement the reform agenda.

In recognition of the significance and complexity of the issues covered by the Water Reform Framework, the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ) established an inter-governmental Task Force on COAG Water Reform to ensure that, where possible, a consistent and coordinated approach is maintained and that the full benefits of the reform process are achieved. Membership of the task force includes senior water policy representatives from all States and Territories. Other stakeholders include the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), the National Competition Council, The Murray Darling Basin Council, the Water Services Association of Australia and the Australian Local Government Association.

COAG reforms are resulting in restructured water tariffs and reduced or eliminated cross subsidies for metropolitan, non-metropolitan urban, and rural water authorities. The reform measures, to be implemented over the period to 2001, cover both rural and urban areas and include measures in relation to water pricing, water entitlements and trading, environmental requirements, institutional reform, public consultation and education, and research. Good progress has been made in implementing the reforms in the short time since they were agreed. 

3.           Water property rights are being addressed under a framework of national principles. All governments have in place, or are planning, measures to promote integrated catchment management approaches. Governments have undertaken activities to promote water trading and initiated action to progress interstate water trading. The COAG framework requires separation of water access rights from land title and clear specification of entitlements in terms of ownership, volume, reliability, transferability, and (if appropriate) quality. Recognition is given to the environment as a legitimate user of water in its own right by giving it its own allocation. Clear water access entitlements are a pre-requisite for efficient and effective trading systems. There is a requirement to ensure that water trading occurs within the social, physical and ecological constraints of individual catchments. 

4.           On 2 February 1997, the Commonwealth Government of Australia adopted and launched The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia to "conserve, repair and manage wetlands wisely". The definition of wetlands includes a broad range of water types, including fresh, salt and brackish water. In recognition of the special role of wetlands the Policy aims to provide those responsible for the administration of Commonwealth activities on wetland sites with guidelines and processes to ensure the wetlands are managed within the principles of ecologically sustainable development (which equates with the Ramsar Convention's "Wise Use" philosophy). 

5.           The Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments agreed to a National Drought Policy (NDP) in 1992. The NDP provides a framework for all levels of government to prepare measures designed to encourage self -reliance, ensure good natural resource management and provide adequate community welfare in the farm sector. A Task Force comprising Commonwealth and State/Territory Government representative was established in late 1995 to review the NDP following the serious impact of drought in 1994 and 1995 on rural businesses, families and communities.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

The regulatory roles traditionally performed by water businesses have either been abolished or are being transferred to an appropriate regulatory body. Economic regulators are being set up to oversee the performance of the industry, to protect customer interests and to regulate water prices.

Partnership Agreements are currently being signed between the Commonwealth Government of Australia and all State and Territory governments to ensure that policies and guidelines for environmental protection and sustainable development are consistent with national standards and priorities. It is expected that regional partnerships will be formed between the Commonwealth, State/Territory and local governments, industry, landcare, conservation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and other community groups, including research and educational institutions, and individual landholders where appropriate. These partnerships of key stakeholders will be best placed to identify issues of concern within a region, and to establish a plan of action that will effect long-term changes for the better management of biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture.

Catchment management committees, led by community representatives, coordinate natural resource management activities in each of the 19 management sub-regions in the Basin. To date, approximately 50 Action Plans have been or are being developed in locations where problems are particularly severe and need to be addressed urgently. Government support, if required, is tailored to the needs of the particular region.

Programmes and Projects 

1.             The National Landcare Program supports activities, which contribute to the sustainable management of land, water and vegetation resources in line with regional, State and national strategies. Emphasis is placed on providing assistance to communities to overcome the impediments to achieving sustainable management. State agencies, Local Government, community groups and industry are encouraged to work cooperatively towards the achievement of strategic goals.

2.             Western Australia has recently announced the Salinity Action Plan, a key strategy for reversing the loss of agricultural land to salinity and protecting and restoring key water resources and high value wetlands. The integration and coordination arrangements that are set out in the Plan provide an example of the State's model for delivery of natural resource management.

3.             The National River Health Program (NRHP) addresses research into the environmental flow requirements of Australia's rivers, including the development of decision support systems. The Program is also developing the first national biological monitoring system for Australia's rivers, for the assessment of river health and related management action and State of the Environment reporting. 

4.             The National Wetlands Program aims to promote the conservation of Australia's wetlands through a variety of actions such as management planning for wetlands listed under the Ramsar Convention, management-oriented research, surveys, training programs and awareness raising. The program has assisted State and Territory Government with management planning for 32 of Australia's 49 Ramsar listed wetlands. In March 1996 Australia hosted the 6th Conference of Contracting parties to the Ramsar Convention, representing the first time the Conference of the Parties had been held in the Southern Hemisphere. 

5.             The Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council introduced an interim cap on diversions and agreed that a better balance needed to be struck between consumptive and environmental uses of water in the Basin. In addition to the audit and cap process, which will provide the broad macro settings, a Sustainability Plan for the Basin will address land and water management issues at a more detailed level. This plan is also complemented by a set of integrated plans, policies and programs.

Status   

 

The Australian water industry is in an era of fundamental and rapid reform. Competitive pressures are increasing and the industry is now becoming part of the international market for water services. Structural reforms are clarifying accountabilities by separating the policy, regulatory and commercial (operational) functions. This is providing the water business with clear commercial goals of customer service, environmental compliance and sound business operation, free of other conflicting objectives. 

In relation to water quality, the major constraints include reaching agreement among all stakeholders on plans of action and their costs; insufficient detailed scientific understanding of the environmental requirements for water flows (including amount, frequency and intensity of flow, etc); and the long history of regarding water as a free resource. The development of water and pollution markets alone will not be the total solution for improving water quality; other critical measures include better coordinated and targeted monitoring, research and reporting programs, and implementation mechanisms for setting, reporting against and ensuring that environmental quality objectives are maintained.

In urban areas, COAG reforms are resulting in restructured water tariffs and reduced or eliminated cross-subsidies for metropolitan and town water services. The impact on domestic consumers of water services are largely being offset by cost reductions achieved by more efficient, customer-driven, service provision. However, significant water savings have also been realized through reduced demand and have resulted in the postponement of plans to develop additional storage facilities. Water supply per property across Australia in major urban areas has fallen by 19 percent in the last six years - a saving sufficient to supply the urban centers of Adelaide and Perth. The populations of these urban centers are 1.0 and 1.2 million respectively. For urban water services in New South Wales and the ACT a two-part tariff system is in place, and positive rates of return have also been achieved for these services. For future investment, economic appraisal and ecological viability assessment policies are in place. 

Current programs for managing the Murray Darling Basin make it the largest integrated catchment management program in the world, covering more than a million square kilometres. The Basin covers most of inland South-Eastern Australia (8 million km2), and it is home to approximately 1.8 million people. Agriculture in the Basin produces more than 40% of the national total worth $8.5 billion, manufacturing in the basin worth $10.75 billion (70% dependent on agriculture), mining worth $1.66 billion and tourism worth $3.44 billion. The Basin contains a wide variety of landscapes and environments ranging from the Australian Alps to the semi deserts west of the Darling River. It contains 30,000 wetlands, including eight recognized under the Ramsar Convention as wetlands of "international importance." There are estimated to be in the order of 2,000 vascular plant species, 85 mammal species, 367 bird species, 151 reptile species, 24 frog species, and 20 fish species at the time of the European settlement. While some extinction has occurred and other species have been threatened, the biodiversity of the basin makes it one of Australia's most important.

The Murray Darling Basin Community Advisory Committee (CAC) has been set up to act as a sounding board for the MDBMC. It comprises 21 community representatives drawn from the four States in the Basin, as well as representatives from the National Farmers Federation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Local government Association and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

A water capping program is in place in the Murray Darling Basin and a bore capping program for Artesian waters. Research is also being undertaken to improve Australia's knowledge and understanding of environmental water requirements and develop a decision support system, which will assist in making better decisions about allocations of water for the environment.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

Australia's community based policies and programs are aimed at developing a capacity for improved resource management at the local level. By encouraging community participation in monitoring water quality, the Waterwatch Australia Program aims to raise community awareness of the natural environment, the wise use of natural resources ethic in communities, and encourage on-ground community based activities and networking. Around 32 000 Australians in 1150 groups across 86 catchments are participating in this program.

Information 

Major Commonwealth Government of Australia information gathering programs include the Commonwealth Monitoring River Health Initiative and State of Environment reporting.  The National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) has established guidelines for fresh and marine waters, including a list of a range of environmental values of water resources and the scientific basis or criteria for local water quality goals. The guidelines are contained in a suite of documents which address specific industries.

An audit and national water resources assessment is being undertaken to help ensure that the necessary information is available for informed decision-making about water resource use, including proposals for major new infrastructure works. It will also provide a sound information base to help achieve the right balance in situations where there are competing demands for water resources, as well as providing a basis against which we can assess progress in achieving sustainable resource use.

The Audit will address the need for a nationwide appraisal of the state of Australia's natural resources base and will contribute to state of the environment reporting at national and state levels. It will provide an objective assessment of the extent of degradation arising from approximately 20 key land and water and vegetation problems and an economic analysis of each problem. The Audit will also develop a coherent and integrated national database that will enable changes in the status of Australia's land and water resources to be evaluated periodically through State of the Environment reporting.

State Governments also operate public engagement programs to prevent pollution of freshwater supplies. For example, the Queensland Government's WaterWise aims to raise the profile of water related issues, promote benefits of water use efficiency and increase awareness of implications of inefficient water use. 

Water Services Association of Australia was formed in 1995 to provide a forum for debate on issues of importance to the urban water industry and to provide a focal point for communicating the industry's views to the public. WSAA also provides a national focus for the provision of information on the urban water industry for all interested parties. WSAAfacts publishes information for the Australian water industry and outlines industry milestones.  Australian Water and Wastewater Association (AWWA) is an independent national association of individuals and organizations interested in all aspects of the water industry. As the leading water industry association in Australia, AWWA attempts to form the debate and improve the performance of all players. AWWA's mission is to promote responsible management and conservation of water and related environment. AWWA provides a web site that brings together the broad range of information. 

Australia, through Environment Australia, produces the publication "A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia" every three years. The Directory is a regularly updated data set of wetland complexes across the country which have satisfied criteria for being considered "nationally important" wetlands. Each chapter is written by the individual State or Territory Governments and contains information on individual wetlands including; general description, significance, uses and potential impacts. The data set contains some information on agricultural and industrial issues. 

Waterwatch Australia in conjunction with Waterwatch Victoria has developed a Waterwatch Data Entry Program, which allows the participants to enter Waterwatch data and store it as a record or file and the Waterwatch Database Program which allows participants to perform simple analysis on the Waterwatch data that has been collected from the catchment. It also allows the operator to develop graphs and produce short reports about the data.

Data on water quality and aquatic biodiversity are collected by community groups at about 4000 sites across Australia. The Waterwatch data is collected to assist the community to assess the health of their own waterways and catchments. The information collected may be relevant to local industries, households or agricultural organizations. Most of the information collected by Waterwatch Australia is for use by people in the catchment involved and as such is usually distributed only in that catchment by the individual groups or the Waterwatch regional coordinator.

Research and Technologies   

 

The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) is the peak body of the Australian urban water industry. Its members provide water and wastewater services to approximately 12 million Australians and many of Australia's largest industrial and commercial enterprises. Established in 1995, it serves as a forum for debate on issues of importance to the urban water industry and a focal point for communicating the industry's views to the public. WSAA also provides a national focus for the provision of information on the urban water industry for all interested parties. WSAA publishes information for the Australian water industry and outlines industry milestones.

Competition for input to the water industry is now well developed, with major outsourcing and treatment plants as well as "Build, Own, Operate and Transfer" contracts already in operation. Access regimes that allow third party access to the industry's infrastructure are under active discussion. Operating licenses specifying customer service, environmental and commercial performance targets and corresponding reward/penalty mechanisms are being introduced.

Australia has the capacity to treat wastewater. It has been estimated that the capacity to do so as in 1994 was 1520 x 106 cubic meters. Total re-use nationally is expected to increase from 18 GL in 1994 to 64 GL by the year 2020.

Sewerage treatment is a State responsibility. Eighty-five percent of urban sewage is treated, and this percentage is likely to increase over the next couple of years as sewerage and wastewater treatment infrastructure is improved.

Technological needs for the wastewater treatment include cost-efficient nutrient stripping, enhanced rapid viral pathogen detection, disinfection, and, in the long term, replacement of chlorine-based water purification and treatment to achieve sustainable use of sludge. For water purification, detection and removal of parasites, disinfection of by-products and other human-made contaminants and cost efficient treatment of reclaimed water that will provide complete reliability for potable reuse are all needed.

Research and data collection related to water management is undertaken through a variety of mechanisms. These include the National Land and Water Resources Audit, the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation, the Division of Land and Water in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO's), the Australian Geological Survey Organization, the Bureau of Resource Sciences, a number of Cooperative Research Centers and various State Government natural resource management agencies.

CSIRO's efforts in this area encompass a broad range of approaches to managing Australia's land and water resources, including knowledge of the processes, practices and skills needed to maintain these resources. CSIRO is concerned with catchment processes, water and soil resources, and their management. It is also concerned with the contamination of land and water, and the means whereby restoration and remediation is achieved, as well as the beneficial use of wastes and integrated approaches to resource use. Teams are able, both national and internationally, to provide a range of skills that can be applied across many integrated research fields. CSIRO seeks to provide leadership in key research areas and to work with society to jointly utilise, develop, monitor, or repair our land and water for mutual benefit. Research is organized in the following broad areas: Catchment management, assessment and monitoring, sediment, nutrient and pollutant transport in catchments, surface water management, Groundwater management, land resource inventory and evaluation, land degradation processes, management and restoration, Land and water contamination, Remediation, Waste utilisation, integrated resource use and society.

The CSIRO is a partner in the Cooperative Research Centre(CRC) for Catchment Hydrology which exists to advance the understanding of catchment hydrology and, through application of this knowledge, to improve the management of Australia's land and water resources. Its research programs focus on: tracking water and salt in catchments to address salinity problems; prediction of water yield in forest catchments, particularly those subject to timber harvesting; waterway management, and control of sediments and nutrients entering streams; urban waterway management, including control of pollutants; and flood estimation and forecasting. The Centre parties include research organizations, and land and water agencies responsible for resource management. The links between researchers and industry are used to identify and research major land and water issues and to speed the transfer of technology into practice. In its education program, the Centre aims to increase the catchment hydrology skills of industry personnel, and to train and equip postgraduate students as future leaders in water resources management in Australia.

The CRC for Freshwater Ecology exists to provide the ecological basis for the sustainable management of Australian temperate region surface water. It has six research program areas: (i) flowing waters, is establishing an understanding of the major processes and organisms involved in the ecology of our rivers and streams;(ii) standing waters and eutrophication, is seeking to improve the quality of stored water and looks at the dynamics of dams and weirs as well as how nutrients, light, river flow and other factors interact to trigger algal blooms, particularly in water storages; (iii) floodplain and wetland ecology, healthy rivers depend on interaction with their floodplains, via flooding; (iv) water quality and ecological assessment, developing cost-effective and improved methods for assessing river health; (v) urban water management, an understanding of urban stormwater pollutant mobilisation, transport and receiving water processes is required for the sustainable development and management of urban areas; and (vi) fish ecology, relates to understanding the recruitment processes in native fish populations, the streamflow needed to sustain fish communities and habitats in regulated rivers, fish migration and techniques for providing fish passage at barriers, threatened species, fish as monitoring tools and the ecological effects of alien species such as carp in freshwater.

The objectives of the CRC for Water Quality and Treatment are to improve public health associated with water supply through the conduct of strategic and applied research, to develop an understanding of the factors which affect water quality, to develop strategies which will provide improved water quality at minimum cost and to provide a platform for this technology to benefit Australia and the Australian water industry. The research program has four components which link human health risk assessment with key water quality, water management and treatment technology issues, including catchment and source water management, natural organic material, control of infectious micro-organisms, cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), management of streams and storages, removal of natural organics from water, activated carbon, alternative approaches to disinfection and maintaining water quality through distribution systems. A strong, integrated education and training program is an important feature of the Centre's core activity. The program involves a range of undergraduate and postgraduate curricula, short courses, seminars and conferences as well as the production of resource material for public education purposes.

The 1996 SoE report addressed issues relating to water quality, water use and environmental flows in a chapter based on Australian research. Over the next four years the National Land and Water Resources Audit will contribute significantly to providing scientifically based information about water issues to decision-makers. The Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation focuses its funding of research on projects that have long-term productive capacity, sustainable use, management and conservation of Australia's land, water and vegetation resources. 

The Australian Geological Survey Organization (AGSO) provides research and technical services to support the sustainable management of water resources. AGSO has developed a multidisciplinary approach to providing regional frameworks for key groups managing natural resources. This approach includes the traditional fields of the earth sciences-geology, geophysics, geochemistry and hydrogeology together with the modern technologies of geographic information systems and spatial data analysis, image processing and relational database management systems. AGSO's expertise in the science of water resource management falls into three broadly interlinked areas: groundwater resources; groundwater quality; and land management.

 

AGSO groundwater assessment and management programs involve developing and collecting baseline information; defining linkages and relationships between the resource and its environment; and strengthening the capabilities of resource-management institutions. Within Australia, AGSO has provided strategic groundwater advice to key management groups involved with the Murray-Darling Basin, the Great Artesian Basin and groundwater resources underlying Aboriginal lands in central and northern Australia, as well as more general information about national and regional groundwater issues. Techniques used during these investigations involve: hydrogeological data collection, hydrogeological mapping and database developmen, regional groundwater modelling, and hydrogeochemical studies and isotope hydrology studies.

The objectives of AGSO's groundwater-quality activities are to: establish baseline conditions in key groundwater resource areas; monitor these areas for subsequent trends in quality indicators; identify and understand the processes - both natural and the result of human activity - impacting on groundwater quality in these areas and based on the above, provide scientific advice to natural resource managers. AGSO routinely undertakes quality assessment of groundwater resources underlying key irrigated agricultural regions and, more recently, aquifers subject to the impact of encroaching rural and urban development. Contaminants routinely screened for include: microbes of public health significance; fertilisers, such as nitrate; heavy metals; toxic organic pollutants, such as pesticides. To further assist groundwater resource managers, AGSO carries out experimental investigations to determine, for example: if natural biogeochemical processes can remediate contaminated groundwaters; if borehole corrosion rates can be predicted, as an aid to borehole rehabilitation; if faecal indicator bacteria can be used to identify sources of contamination.

AGSO has been involved in various aspects of the reform of Australia's water industries, especially integrated resource management, where, for instance, irrigation development conflicts with broader catchment-based equity of resource use and environmental concerns. Australia is at the forefront of moves to achieve a catchment-based approach to natural resources management to improve outcomes for sustainable resource use through effective cooperation between governments and the community. AGSO's role, which has been complemented by other policy-related programs, has been to provide technical information and monitoring systems to help decision-making.

The Bureau of Resource Sciences (BRS) also conducts a number of water management research projects, including into the impacts of farm dam development on stream flows and the institutional impediments to environmental flow management. BRS currently has an investigation into the 'Biophysical agricultural production and socio-economic futures in irrigation regions, a 20 year profile'. The project objective is to develop a decision support system framework for identifying the likely impact of policy and program options at regional and basin levels on the resource base, agricultural productivity and socio-economic structure of irrigation regions of the Southern Murray-Darling Basin over the next 20 years. A prototype decision support system framework and hydrological and salt balance models have been developed to date. BRS' 'Future uses for Australia's water' project is to further develop the irrigation futures framework to incorporate water management allocation, nutrient flows, environmental flows, run-off and stream flow, and the cost of off-site salinity impacts.

Financing 

The Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 established a Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Reserve, and allows the Trust to earn interest, and for Consolidated Revenue funds to be paid into the Trust. $1.249 billion will be spent over 5 years. In addition to this, $300 million will be kept in perpetuity as a capital base for future environmental expenditure. The Act ensures accountability through financial and annual reporting and outlines the capital projects of the Trust, which will deal directly with the preservation of Australia's natural assets.

The Commonwealth Government of Australia is conducting a comprehensive appraisal of the extent of land and water degradation in Australia and its environment, social and economic costs. Under the Natural Heritage Trust , the Government is establishing a National Land and Water Audit at a cost of $37 million to the year 2001-02.  The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)'s Division of Land and Water has a staff of 480 to undertake integrated research in this area. The CSIRO Land and Water Sector spends some $32m on land and water research annually.

Water supply is an important element of Australia's official development assistance (ODA) because of its contribution to poverty reduction. Australia's aid expenditure on water supply and sanitation activities has increased dramatically over the last 5 years from $10.2 million in 1990-1 to $76.1 million in 1995-6. In 1997-98 Aus AID expenditure on the water sector is estimated at $40 million or 3% of ODA. Most projects are located in the Asia-Pacific region. AusAID activities in this sector have increasingly incorporated environmental concerns (such as improved catchment management) as well as the involvement of local communities in their design, construction and maintenance.

Considerable support is provided by a range of Federal and State/Territory programs aimed at improving water resource management. The Federal Government is committed to funding a $1.25 billion package of natural resource management measures. The main elements that address water management are a National Land and Water Audit ($32m), the Murray-Darling 2001 project ($150m) and a National Rivercare Program ($85m).

Cooperation

Australia is a participant in the multilateral track of the Middle East peace process, and is a member of the multilateral Water Resources Working Group (WRWG). The WRWG was established to assist in joint water resource management by the Palestine Territories, Jordan and Israel, and Australia is committed to providing tangible support to the peace process through WRWG activities. In the 1997/98 financial year AusAID is providing assistance of around AUD50 000 for a workshop organized by the Executive Action Team of the WRWG, to be held over 14-18 December in Tiberius, Israel. These funds will go towards partly covering the costs of hosting the workshop, and the attendance of two Australian consultants who will primarily contribute expertise on ground water modeling and data base formation.

The Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand have prepared a policy position paper for advice to states and territories, entitled Allocation and Use of Groundwater - A National Framework for Improved Groundwater Management in Australia. This paper offers advice to jurisdictions on further opportunities for reform in groundwater management, consistent with the principles agreed in the Water Reform Framework and the Competition Policy. The paper also establishes inter-governmental agreement or guidance on some implementation issues relating to groundwater. 

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th and 6th Sessions of the United Nations Commissions on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 June 1998

Click here for COAG Water Policy.

Click here for the Natural Heritage Trust.

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LAND MANAGEMENT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Responsibility for natural resource planning and management rests primarily with the six State, two Territory and local governments. State and Territory Departments' of Agriculture, Resource Management and Environment Protection administer regulations for the management and protection of natural resources and the environment and are the major suppliers of 'on the ground' applied information and advice for land owners and land managers, both directly via extension programs or indirectly via landcare groups.

At the Commonwealth Government level, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia (AFFA) and the Department of the Environment and Heritage are the main agencies responsible for environment and natural resource management. The role of the Commonwealth Government is to provide national leadership to address natural resource management and environmental concerns that are of national rather than State or local significance. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) the Commonwealth Government will control actions which would impact on specified matters of national environmental significance. The Commonwealth encourages the States, Territories, local governments and communities to develop uniform approaches and policies and provides short term support that is designed to act as a catalyst for long term actions by other governments and communities. Local governments play a key role within legislative frameworks set by the States, as they have responsibility for many of the planning and management decisions at the local level. Local governments operate within legislative frameworks set by the States and Territories.

States/Territories and local governments have a variety of coordination mechanisms. For example, an important innovation is the development of catchment management arrangements to span a number of local government areas, such as Victoria's Catchment Management Authorities ( http://www.nre.vic.gov.au/catchmnt/partner/cma/index.htm).

At the State, Territory and Commonwealth government levels there have been a number of structural changes that have resulted in the integration of planning and management of land resources by amalgamating separate Ministerial Councils concerned with soil conservation, water resources and agriculture into one Council -- the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ). Other Ministerial Councils that provide policy co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories include the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), the Ministerial Council for Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture (MCFFA) and the Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council (ANZMEC). The Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) and Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MDBMC) provide co-ordinated natural resource management in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's largest river system and the site of important segments of Australia's population and industry. Co-ordination is also promoted through intergovernmental committees of officials supporting the Ministerial Councils.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

State and Territory governments have planning schemes that aim to balance the full range of economic, environment and social factors as well as having requirements to conduct environment impact assessments for significant development applications. Within this framework local governments also have development control and planning powers. The Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 will protect impacts on places of national environmental significance including Ramsar sites and habitats of threatened species.

The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (NPWC) Act provides the statutory basis for regulating use and access to Commonwealth national parks and reserves. The Act also provides the basis for introducing fees and other cost-recovery mechanisms for park or reserve entry, permit assessment and issue, fines and other measures. These are applied as required and provide a contribution to park or reserve revenue and as a means of regulating access to parks or reserves where they are applied. National parks and reserves are managed to conserve their natural values such as biodiversity, and therefore the transformation of a land type or habitat into another land type or habitat is not generally an issue. The only exception may be where rehabilitation is required to restore an area to its natural state. National Parks and Reserves declared under the NPWC Act are vested in the Director of National Parks and Wildlife. Where an area has been handed over to traditional owners (Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Booderee National Parks) then agreements have been established under which the areas are leased back to the Director to be managed.

The management of most of Australia's national parks and conservation reserves is governed by State and Territory legislation. Conservation of biodiversity on public land at the Commonwealth level is achieved through national policies for the management of wildlife and of national parks and reserves, under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 (NPWC Act). This Act will be superceded by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, effective from July 2000. Conservation and management of fresh water resources is achieved with national parks and reserves declared under the NPWC Act as part of overall management of those parks and reserves in recognition of the part in which water plays in broader ecological management approaches. Protection of fragile mountain ecosystems is achieved through Parks Australia involvement in implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Australian Alps National Parks (which involves national parks and reserves in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT). Parks Australia provides financial support to the MOU and supports the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

Any proposal to establish or expand human settlements within a national park or reserve declared under the NPWC Act would be considered under the Regulations to the Act and plan of management in place for that particular park or reserve. The potential impacts of such establishment or expansion on the natural values and the management objectives for that park or reserve would be taken into account.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD) provides the policy framework for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to promote the ecologically sustainable management of Australia's environment and natural resources. The NSESD (in place since 1992) commits Australian governments to ensure that land use decision making processes and land use allocations meet the overall goal of ecologically sustainable development and are based on a consideration of all land values, uses and flow on effects. Under the NSESD governments are working to:

In relation to the management of land for mining, in February 1998 the Commonwealth Government announced a Resources Policy Statement that re-affirmed that Commonwealth decision-making processes would integrate considerations of all values, including economic, environmental and social issues. In maintaining a competitive environment the Statement committed the Commonwealth to promoting efficiency in the use of land, labour and capital. The Statement, in accordance with the NSESD, supports multiple and sequential land and marine area use while recognising that there are some areas of exceptional environmental or cultural value that are not compatible with development.

Within the framework of the NSESD a number of strategies and plans provide a focus for particular resource issues, including the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, the revised National Overview for the Decade of Landcare Plan (the main strategic plan for the National Landcare Program), the National Water Quality Management Strategy, the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Water Reform Framework and the National Weeds Strategy. In April 1999 all Australian governments agreed to national principles and guidelines for rangelands management. Additional strategies and plans are being developed from 1999 between the three levels of Australian governments and regional and community interest groups. These include a National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation being developed by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), a National Dryland Salinity Program, a Salinity Management Strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin, and a rehabilitation strategy for the Great Artesian Basin groundwater resource. A National Land and Water Resources Audit is underway to provide benchmark information for these and other initiatives.

The complex nature of the causes of sustainability problems within Australia and the range of participants requires a mix of instruments to provide effective solutions.

Therefore, as part of the NSESD Australian governments are undertaking a range of measures to address sustainability issues. These include:

In view of the wide ranging economic and ecological dimensions of the water industry the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed that action was required to address the unsustainable use of water and accompanying widespread natural resource and environmental degradation. COAG agreed on a series of measures to reform Australia's water industry and to address the economic, environmental and social implications of reform. The fundamental principle underlying the COAG framework is that water use should be both economically viable and ecologically sustainable. The provision of either direct or indirect subsidies, for example to meet community service obligations, should be transparent. The major elements of the reform strategy include pricing based on full cost recovery, determination of water allocations and entitlements and trading for those entitlements, institutional reforms, and the provision of water for the environment. The implementation of this package by State and Territory governments is critical for both the long-term viability and sustainability of rural industries and the quality of Australia's rural environment and natural resources. The implementation of these reforms also recognises that if land and water problems are not effectively managed then both economic growth and the state of the environment are jeopardised.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Private landholders play a key role in decision making as most agricultural land is privately owned or managed under leasehold arrangements. Indigenous peoples also are substantial land managers and occupy about 18.4 per cent of Australia's extensive rangelands area. The primary role of Governments is to establish the broad framework for decision making through economic, social and environmental policies, standards and laws and through tenure systems.

Formal structures at all levels of government provide community groups and non-government organisations with opportunities to participate in policy development and program implementation. Catchment Management Committees have been established under State government legislation and the Commonwealth Government has established the Australian Landcare Council. The Commonwealth, States and Territories have also established Regional and State Assessment Panels to advise on the selection and evaluation of projects funded from Natural Heritage Trust programs. A Community Advisory Committee provides the Murray-Darling Basin Commission with advice from community and non-government organisations.

Community Landcare is an essential instrument for ensuring practical, relevant decision-making for natural resource management in rural Australia. By involving community members who naturally link the social, economic and environmental aspects of their lives and who have the greatest vested interest in change, an integrated and sustainable approach to natural resources management and rural development is being achieved. Some 4500 community groups are now involved in voluntary activities promoting sustainable land management and use, many of which are supported by the National Landcare Program and other programs supported by the Natural Heritage Trust. Landcare groups are becoming the most important source of information on local land management issues for members. About 30 per cent of farmers are now members of local landcare groups. Their activities are enhanced by the operations of local governments who are increasingly implementing local strategies for sustainable land use.

Community landcare is supported by the Natural Heritage Trust and the administrative arrangements for the Trust are designed to allow community groups to access ten of the Trust supported programs through a single application and assessment process. Projects for funding are selected on the basis of a single application form, then managed through a single payment schedule and an integrated process for monitoring, reporting and evaluation. This simplifies the process for applicants and ensures that projects can be developed that draw on a number of programs that address a range of issues and activities. The administrative process therefore both encourages community group involvement and the integration and co-ordination of environment and conservation programs.

This is in addition to the continuing major role played by the State Departments of Agriculture, Resource Management and Environmental Protection. These organisations are the major suppliers of 'on the ground' applied information and advice either directly via extension programs or indirectly via landcare groups.

The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 provides for public involvement in the development of plans of management for parks and reserves in both the establishment and management phases. There is statutory provision for submissions from communities, industry groups, indigenous people, non government organisations and others on the plans of management, to be considered in both the development of plans and by both the Director and the Minister when approving plans. The Act also provides for the establishment of Boards of management for national parks and reserves. These are currently established for Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Booderee National Parks. The Boards provide a significant opportunity for traditional owners to be actively involved in joint management of the area and to have active involvement in decision-making on land-use.

The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have enacted legislation that provides land rights for indigenous Australians. Commonwealth legislation is the Native Title Act 1993. Indigenous Australians possess a range of land titles. These fall into a number of categories including general titles, specific statutory titles, and specific common law titles. The general titles include purchased freehold and leasehold titles (for example, land purchased by the Indigenous Land Corporation). The specific statutory titles include: inalienable freehold (Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 (SA)), statutory trusts (Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act 1972 (WA)), deeds of grant in trust (Land Act 1962-1988 (Qld), Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld)), Aboriginal Reserves, and excisions and community living area (Crown Lands Act 1991 (NT), Pastoral Land Act 1992 (NT)).

The rights arising from these titles include access rights, rights to hunt and fish, rights to exclusive possession and rights which are roughly equivalent to private freehold. There are also procedural rights held by indigenous people which exceed those available to the wider community. These include the right to negotiate in relation to actions which may affect the use and enjoyment of native title (Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), ss.25-44.) and the right to veto mining exploration on Aboriginal land (Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), s.42).

Generally, Aboriginal land is held communally either by native title holders or by a community organisation in trust for the benefit of traditional owners, etc. More detailed information can be found on the homepages of the Attorney General's Department (http://www.law.gov.au/aghome/aghome.htm) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (http://www.atsic.gov.au/).

Programmes and Projects 

Land management is subject to regulation by State and Territory Governments. The Commonwealth also provides assistance to landholders through programs that are part of the Natural Heritage Trust. The programs assist landowners and managers to implement self-reliant and sustainable management practices, and to address degradation concerns that have community and public impacts. The programs aim to bring about long term change in management practices by providing the information and skills that landowners and managers require to implement improved practices. Conservation programs, such as the Bushcare program, the Endangered Species program and the National Reserve system program provide assistance for activities for biological conservation that result in public benefits.

The following programs support integrated approaches to the planning and management of land resources:

Status  

In States and Territories clearing of native forest on private land occurs to a greater or lesser degree for a range of purposes including agriculture, grazing and plantation establishment. Control over the extent of clearing varies across State jurisdictions, with many having very stringent limitations. Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) between States/Territories and the Commonwealth apply to major forested regions which continue commercial harvesting, and are designed to ensure conservation of natural and cultural values through comprehensive, adequate and representative reserves within a framework of ecologically sustainable forest management. Provided certain criteria are met however, clearing of forested land for other purposes may occur within RFA regions. For more detailed information see the Regional Forest Agreements homepage at http://www.rfa.gov.au/.

The size of the Australian continent and the range and diversity of its landscapes pose difficulties in developing adequate information of sufficient detail to guide sound decision making at the local level. However, through the National Land and Water Resources Audit and other information systems, progress is being made.

Environment Australia is actively collecting and collating national environmental information in order to support the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) which will come into effect on 16 July 2000. This should improve the Government's capacity to make decisions that will positively impact on sustainable land use.

n addition, under the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989, administered by Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ? Australia (AFFA), the Commonwealth has established a number of research and development corporations that carry out studies and investigations aimed at improving the profitability, productivity and ecologically sustainability of Australia's primary industries and natural resources. Under the Natural Heritage Trust, the National Landcare Program has also established the Landcare Information Service, delivered as a non-profit service to assist landholders to access information relevant to their decision-making needs.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

To improve the delivery of Government services and activities at the Commonwealth level a number of programs concerned with separate resources (soil, water and vegetation) were integrated under the NHT. Under the Trust, programs such as the NLP and Bushcare are raising awareness of the nature and extent of land degradation among the community, empowering community groups to address degradation problems that are a common concern by providing them with the skills and information they require, and encouraging the development and adoption of self reliant and ecologically sustainable land management practices. Key issues addressed by the NLP include support for improved planning and management through the Property Management Planning Campaign and support for the development and implementation of regional and catchment plans for land, water and salinity management. Key issues addressed by Bushcare program are the decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation coverage, and the need to restore through revegetation, the environmental values and productive capacity of Australia's degraded land and water.

Information   

At the State, Territory and local government levels land and geographic information is being increasingly integrated to improve land administration and provide a legal, geographic and administrative basis for the orderly management and use of private and public land. There has also been important progress in improving the understanding of Australia's natural resource base. In the minerals area the Australian Geological Survey Organisation has developed and integrated mineral databases and geographical information systems. These databases include the Mineral Resources Database which has comprehensive data on some 2 500 mineral deposit and the Mineral Location Database which contains information of 73 000 mineral occurrences, including current and abandoned mine sites. These databases are or are being integrated with other environmental and natural resource databases to provide integrated analyses of mineral, environmental and other data to assist resource management and land management decisions.

The National Land and Water Resources Audit now being undertaken over four years as part of the Natural Heritage Trust has the goal of facilitating improved decision making in land and water resources management. The Audit will compile nationally compatible datasets of parameters which provide a measure of the status of Australia's land and water resources, and which over time will identify changes to that status. The Audit provides the opportunity for government agencies, industry and community groups to work closely to establish a framework for long term monitoring and assessment, providing data to support decision making, and for better understanding other relevant initiatives and investments in data gathering and information systems. It is intended that the Audit will provide a more robust natural resource management environment in Australia, in which decisions are made with the benefit of relevant and comprehensive data, with assessments of the likely costs and benefits from environmental, economic and social perspectives, and in the context of Australia's diverse and fragile natural resources.

Under the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989 administered by AFFA the Commonwealth has established a number of research and development corporations that carry out studies and investigations aimed at improving the profitability, productivity and ecologically sustainability of Australia's primary industries and natural resources. The Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation addresses the specific needs of sustainable and economically viable land and water resource management generally. Other industry based Corporations address issues that are particular to important pastoral and agricultural industries, such as the grains, sugar, cattle and horticultural industries. The Corporations have an important role in assisting industry and landholders to acquire the skills and develop the information necessary to implement sustainable and self-reliant management practices.

In addition to the large number of data sets managed by State and Territory governments, a number of national data bases are managed by the Bureau of Rural Sciences, the Australian Government Land Information organisation, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Geological Survey Organisation and Environment Australia. Moreover each State Government agency has extensive databases and decision support tools for their respective responsibilities. These feed into Federal databases. The National Land Water Resources Audit is also adding to these data sets and will provide a more comprehensive picture of the range of information managed by State, Territory and Commonwealth organisations.

More detailed information on particular aspects of integrated land management can be found on the following Commonwealth homepages: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ? Australia ( http://www.affa.gov.au/) and Department of the Environment and Heritage ( http://www.environment.gov.au/). Relevant State and Territory homepages include: New South Wales ( http://www.nsw.gov.au/), Victoria ( http://www.vic.gov.au/), Queensland ( http://www.qld.gov.au/), South Australia (http://www.sacentral.sa.gov.au/), Western Australia ( http://www.wa.gov.au/home.html), Tasmania ( http://www.tas.gov.au/), Northern Territory ( http://www.nt.gov.au/), Australian Capital Territory ( http://www.act.gov.au/). The Local Government peak body, the Australian Local Government Association, homepage is at http://www.alga.com.au/.

Research and Technologies   

Australia has a legislative requirement to prepare state of the environment reports every five years, with the next one due in December 2001. Seven reports recommending indicators - for the land, inland waters, biodiversity, estuaries and the sea, the atmosphere, human settlements, and natural and cultural heritage themes - provide a comprehensive set of indicators for the 2001 state of the environment report and form an important basis for development of sustainability indicators (see http://www.environment.gov.au/epcg/soe/soe.html).

Australia is developing indicators to assist in the sustainable management of its natural resources. Based on the Montreal Process, Regional Forestry Agreements incorporate indicators to assist in the sustainable management of Australia's forest resources. The Bureau of Rural Science is also developing a framework of indicators to assist in the sustainable management of Australia's fisheries. The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management is also assisting in the development of indicators for Australia's agricultural industries.

ENSO is strongly correlated with the large interannual climate variability experienced over much of Australia. In particular, ENSO is strongly associated with the quasi-regular occurrence of droughts and floods which affect most of the agricultural areas of eastern Australia and result in large interannual variations in rural productivity. The continuing development of seasonal climate forecasting capabilities is increasing the capacity of the agricultural sector to incorporate the climatic effects of ENSO into land management practices. Climate prediction models are currently being used to assist in drought preparedness and improved models are being developed.

Financing 

The Natural Heritage Trust (NHT), which is jointly administered by AFFA and Environment Australia, provides funding for a number of sustainable land management and environment conservation programs, including the National Landcare Program (NLP) and the Bushcare program. The Trust is the largest financial commitment to environmental action by any Federal government in Australia's history, with funding of about A$1.5 billion over six years from 1996-97 until June 2002. The Trust provides an overarching mechanism which integrates the broad range of natural resource management issues including sustainable agriculture, biodiversity conservation and sustainable water use. It recognises the urgent need for action to address current degradation, and prevent the further decline in the quality of Australia's natural environment. 

The main objective of the Trust - to conserve, repair and replenish Australia's natural capital infrastructure - is directly relevant to the core objectives of ecologically sustainable development. The principles of ecologically sustainable development are embedded in the enabling legislation of the Trust. The Trust also recognises the need for the Commonwealth to provide national leadership and work co-operatively with other levels of government and the whole community. Programs in the NHT are generally matched dollar for dollar by the State and Territory Governments and so the total expenditure is over A$3 billion. The 'Partnership Agreements' embody the shared responsibilities. The NHT is generally additional to the 'Resource Management' responsibilities of the states, which were already underway.

The objectives of the Trust are to:

A substantial proportion of Trust funds is devoted to programs to support sustainable land management. The Trust provides funding for programs and initiatives including:

Vegetation

Inland Waters

Biodiversity

Land Resources

Coasts and Oceans

Environment Protection

Atmosphere

Australian Heritage

A streamlined program delivery process is in place for the Trust that provides community groups with a single entry point and application process for accessing the Trust programs. Program arrangements are also designed to promote regional approaches to project development based on co-operative Partnership Agreements between the Commonwealth and the State/Territory Governments. While not a party to the Partnership Agreements, local government is also involved in projects. These agreements encompass the range of activities funded through the NHT and accommodate all relevant Government agencies. The agreements ensure that State and Territory policies and guidelines for environmental protection and sustainable development are consistent with national standards and priorities. In addition, as part of the agreements the Commonwealth seeks complementary and consistent State and Territory regulatory and administrative arrangements. The States and Territories are themselves major investors in environmental protection and sustainable management of natural resources. Investment through the NHT complements State and Territory investments and is designed to stimulate additional activities by these jurisdictions.

The regional scale is generally the most effective scale to address the issues targeted by the Trust, and funding priority is therefore attached to projects that are an integral part of a regional strategy or plan. Regional and State project assessment panels examine project proposals at an early stage and allow proposals to be assessed against regional priorities and against progress in implementing regional plans. The majority of the membership of the panels is drawn in the majority from community groups and non-government organisations. The panels ensure that the views of these organisations are taken into account when priorities are identified and projects selected and assessed. A network of Trust facilitators has been established to encourage co-ordination and integration of Trust activities for particular programs (including Landcare, Bushcare and Coasts and Clean Seas) or interested parties (such as Local Government or indigenous groups). For example, the Multiple Use Strategic Plan for the Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, involves the Commonwealth and State Governments, various industry sectors (fishing, agriculture and minerals) and traditional land owners. Facilitators also assist community groups to develop proposals for assistance as well as implement them. Further details of Trust administration are provided in the section 'Involvement of Major Groups in Decision-making'.

Cooperation  

Australia's overseas aid program contains a number of activities, which specifically focus on support to integrated land resource planning, and management. Examples include the Land Titling Projects in Thailand and Indonesia, the recently completed Remote Sensing and Natural Resources Management and Development projects in the Philippines and the Land Mobilization project and support for the National Forestry and Conservation Action Program in Papua New Guinea. Many of AusAID's activities in other sectors also support the improvement of land resource planning and management capacity.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th, 6th, and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1999.

Click here for the National Strategy for Ecological Sustainable Development

Click here for Regional Forest Agreements

Click here for the Natural Heritage Trust.

National Wilderness Inventory.

Click here for the Best Practice in Environmental Management in Mining booklets.

Click here for the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity

Click here for National Land and Water Resources Audit

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MOUNTAINS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Management of mountainous areas is, in general terms, the responsibility of the relevant State or Territory or Local Governments. Many mountain sites are included in protected areas managed by State or Territory conservation agencies.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Alps national parks are managed by three parks agencies: The Australian Capital Territory Parks and Conservation Service, the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment. The Federal Government, through the Department of the Environment's Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, supports the management agencies with coordination, secretariat and financial assistance. To facilitate a common approach to management for the alpine parks and reserves, the State and Federal Ministers responsible for the Australian Alps Co-operative Management Program maintain a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), established in 1986, and revised in 1989 and again in 1996.

The objective of the agreement is to pursue cooperative management and develop complementary policies to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the Australian Alps, whilst providing opportunities for public enjoyment of that resource. The Australian Alps Liaison Committee was formed to coordinate the development and implementation of co-operative programs and arrangements.  

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The 1996-99 Strategic Plan for the cooperative management of the Australian Alps national parks is in place. This is an extension of the 1993-96 Strategic Plan and reflects community consultation and agency review of priorities.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

No information is available

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available

Status   

Australia has a generally flat land surface with relatively low precipitation and run-off. The Great Dividing Range is a discontinuous chain of mountainous terrain that extends up the east coast and into Cape York. The higher altitude peaks often harbour a range of plant and animal species that are of Gondwanan origins and thus of high conservation significance. Australia's mountainous regions have their greatest extent in the south-east of the continent (a region known as the Australian Alps) and in parts of the island State of Tasmania. The Australian Alps cover an area of roughly 25,000 km2, or about 0.3% of Australia.

 

The Alps and the mountainous areas of Tasmania have a long history of grazing. In recent years other industries and land uses, particularly hydroelectricity generation, forestry, skiing, fishing, bushwalking, trail riding and general tourism have come to dominate. Protection of important catchments is a high priority, as are the control of erosion, the protection of cultural heritage, and the conservation of unique alpine fauna and flora habitat.

The Australian Alps national parks encompass an area of approximately 1.5 million hectares of the Australian mainland and provide protection to approximately 62 % of the Australian Alps geographic unit. Much of the area outside national parks is also public land. It is managed under a multiple use strategy, covering uses such as skiing, cattle grazing and forestry activities.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

Through the implementation of the MOU, the Australian Alps national parks are developing an international reputation for their cooperative management. The IUCN publication, "Parks on the Borderline: Experience in Transfrontier Conservation," give recognition to the success of cross-border cooperation between the different MOU agencies. The IUCN publication indicates that the Australian Alps parks and reserves constitute the most advanced operating cross-border park management agreement now in existence.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing 

A total annual budget of $400 000 is provided for the Australian Alps National Parks Co-operative Management Program through contributions from the States and the Commonwealth. This is in addition to the operational budgets of the individual parks and management agencies.

 

Cooperation  

 

Australian expertise in dryland agricultural methods has been used to improve the sustainability of agricultural practices in a number of marginal mountain environments in Asia and the Pacific. Examples of such projects include the Highland Agricultural and Social Development project in northern Thailand, the Nepal Australia Community Forestry project, the Laos Upland Agriculture project, the Nusa Tenggara Timur Watershed Management project in Indonesia and two integrated area development projects in Simbu province in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Together these projects total over $60 million. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has supported research projects on reducing degradation of upland areas of South Asia caused by soil erosion and acidification.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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OCEANS AND COASTAL AREAS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

In Australia, responsibility for management of the coastal zone, its resources and the offshore waters, is shared between the Commonwealth, Government and State/Territory and Local Governments. The Offshore Constitutional Settlement incorporates arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States relating to management of marine resources, including oil, gas and other seabed minerals, fisheries, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and other marine protected areas, historic shipwrecks, and ship-sourced marine pollution. These arrangements have facilitated a degree of integrated management across jurisdictions in some sectors, for example fisheries. 

The legislative basis for planning and management of the land area of the coastal zone is primarily provided by the States. Most States are undergoing or have undergone reviews of their coastal management systems to identify problem areas and options for coastal management reform. Local Governments play a major role in coastal zone management as day-to-day managers, in providing infrastructure and facilities, and in land-use planning decisions. 

The Commonwealth and the States both have responsibilities in the offshore area. The Commonwealth has primary responsibility from 3 nautical miles to the outer boundary of the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone and the edge of the adjacent continental shelf. The Commonwealth also has jurisdiction over the external territories, and areas reserved for activities such as defence and transport purposes.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Government of Australia singed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982, and ratified it in 1994.

The Commonwealth Government has reviewed its role in environment protection and has introduced new legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Bill, 1998. The Bill identifies marine and coastal issues as matters of national significance. 

The Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 is to be revised to reflect changes to relevant International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations. Changes being considered include application of regulations to sewage and air pollution as well as improving domestic enforcement provisions in the Act. 

Reflecting jurisdictional responsibilities, there is no Commonwealth legislation dealing specifically with land-based sources of marine pollution. However, together with all other jurisdictions, the Commonwealth has endorsed a National Water Quality Management Strategy for fresh and marine waters. Through national water quality guidelines, industry specific effluent management guidelines and monitoring and review guidelines, this strategy aims to reduce the impact of land-based sources of marine pollution. As a further indication of its commitment to improve marine and estuarine water quality and minimise land-based marine pollution, the Commonwealth Government has given a strong commitment to develop national marine and estuarine water quality standards through a National Environment Protection Measure. To date, the States and Northern Territory have taken a number of different approaches to the issue of pollution of territorial waters. New South Wales and the Northern Territory have legislation dealing directly with land-based and marine water pollution, while other States use general environmental legislation for the purposes of statutory protection against water pollution. 

The Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 and the Offshore Minerals Act 1994 provide management and regulation of petroleum and mineral exploration and production in offshore areas under Commonwealth jurisdiction. New objective-based regulations are being developed in consultations between regulators, environment agencies, industry and environment non-government organisations for the management of the environmental performance of the offshore petroleum industry. Offshore petroleum and mineral activities are also subject to the requirements of general environment protection legislation. Mirror legislation for the petroleum and minerals industries applies in offshore areas under State/Northern Territory jurisdiction.

 

The Environmental Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 regulates the dumping of wastes and other matter at sea. The Act has jurisdiction from the low water mark out to the 200nm zone. The Act is currently being amended to reflect changes at the international level. The Sea Installations Act 1987 regulates the installation of structures into the sea which can be floating or fixed to the sea floor and ensures they are operated safely and in a manner that is consistent with the protection of the environment.

 

Under the framework of Australia's Offshore Constitutional Settlement, fisheries management plans are drawn up to reflect biological and fish stock boundaries rather than administrative lines on maps. The facilitation of these arrangements by the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture produces management plans that are streamlined, avoid overlap and enable stocks to be managed in an increasingly cooperative and long term sustainable basis.

Codes of Practice, Standards or Guidelines

The development of codes of practice by professional associations and peak industry groups has involved industry in a joint approach to problem solving. Codes of practice are currently being or have been developed for the aquaculture industry, the recreational fishing industry, the coastal planning sector, the Surf Lifesaving Association, the mining industry, the electricity industry, ports industry in regard to dredging operations, and the tourism industry. Other proposed codes include with the Institution of Engineers, commercial fishing sector and water authorities.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The States have been granted title to the seabed within 3 nautical miles of the territorial sea baselines. Examples of individual State/Territory programs and actions can be found in the Oceans Policy issues paper.  A National Oceans Office has been established to coordinate matters related to oceans and seas and to further the development of Australia's Oceans Policy in conjunction with State and Territory Governments.

 

Australia has a number of strategies and policies in regard to integrated coastal zone management, marine protection and sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources.  The Commonwealth Coastal Policy, developed in 1995, identified guiding principles for the sustainable management of coastal resources and provided for a program of cooperative action. It is a statement of the Commonwealth Government's position on coastal management matters. 

The Commonwealth Government launched Australia's Oceans Policy on December 23 1998. Principal strategies in the policy are: integrated ecosystem-based planning and management; greater coordination between the States and the Commonwealth to facilitate effective management; a strong commitment to the principle of multiple use and the precautionary principle; and an improved capacity to understand our marine environment through increased scientific effort. 

Australia's coastal and ocean fisheries are managed by Commonwealth, State and Territory fishery management agencies based on legislation and detailed management plans formulated on the principles of ecological sustainable development. Management plans typically contain limited access measures, size of boat and gear restrictions, area and seasonal closures, catch limits and reporting, and increasingly measures to limit bycatch and interaction with non-target species. Management plans are being broadened to encompass ecosystem considerations. 

Fisheries management plans are developed collaboratively with fishery managers and scientists, fishing industry (commercial and recreational), and government and non-government environmental agencies. Australia spends $AUS50 million per year on research and development to ensure fishing is undertaken sustainably.

 

Recreational fishing is an important leisure activity enjoyed by over 3 million Australians. Management and development of recreational fishing is being guided by implementation of the policy >Recreational Fishing in Australia: A National Policy' (1994). The policy has recently been supplemented by The National Code of Practice for Recreational and Sport Fishing.

The National Aquaculture Strategy, developed by the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture in 1994, is guiding the long term development of sustainable aquaculture in Australia.  The Strategy to Manage Discharges of Ballast Water, believed to be a world first, aims to reduce the risk of introducing unwanted aquatic organisms into Australian waters. 

The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) has released the National Maritime Accidents and Pollution Strategy to reduce marine pollution from shipping. The Strategy identifies priority issues including ballast water; port waste reception facilities; marine debris; education and outreach; promotion of programs, research, environmental impact assessment, industry action, and community action; and participation in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other international activities. 

A National Bycatch Policy is at an advanced stage of development.   The National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Noxious and Hazardous Substances (NATPLAN), a cooperative arrangement between the Commonwealth, States and industry, is regularly reviewed and updated.  Many non-coastal government policies have implications for the management and conservation of marine and coastal environment. For example, the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity considers ecological sustainable fisheries management practices, and the National Transport and Sustainable Development Policy, being jointly prepared by the Commonwealth Government and State and Territory Governments, will include maritime issues.

Policies or Plans for fragile ecosystems.

Zoning and management plans provide the framework for the management of use in Australia's multiple-use Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Australia is a world leader in using MPAs for marine conservation and management and has 24 per cent of the total number of MPAs in the world. A primary focus in the establishment of MPAs in Australia has been the protection and sustainable use of fragile ecosystems, in particular coral reefs (for example the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Ningaloo Marine Park), and mangroves and seagrasses (which are in many of the MPAs declared by State Governments). The Commonwealth Government is currently undertaking assessments of five additional MPAs in Commonwealth waters, and two of these have significant coral reef ecosystems.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Development of Australia's Oceans Policy has included a Scoping Paper and an Issues Paper for public comment; a national Forum; public presentations in all capital cities and major coastal regions; meetings with peak non-governmental organisations and industry bodies; and the formation of a Ministerial Advisory Group comprised of representatives of conservation, industry, academic, indigenous and non-government organisations. 

Several of the major Natural Heritage Trust programmes, including Coastcare, the Fisheries Action Programme and Landcare, specifically target funding to projects involving community groups for on-ground action, and to promote their involvement in planning and management processes.

Programmes and Projects   

Coasts and Clean Seas is a major component of the Natural Heritage Trust. The Trust encourages partnerships between community organisations and governments in order to take joint responsibility for the environment and to improve the ability of communities to manage their own environments and natural resources. 

Coasts and Clean Seas is designed to help tackle coastal and marine pollution problems, threats to marine biodiversity and habitat degradation, and promote sustainable use of Australia's coastal and marine areas, including estuarine areas. The focus of Coasts and Clean Seas is on practical actions and on-ground works. The initiative is delivered through the tripartite Coastal Memoranda of Understanding between the Commonwealth, Government and State and Local Governments.

New activities under Coasts and Clean Seas include the following: 

These will complement ongoing programs including:

Coasts and Clean Seas is complemented by other Natural Heritage Trust programs to reduce land-sourced pollution. Also of relevance are the integrated catchment management approaches undertaken by most major metropolitan areas, to reduce pollution through combinations of source reductions and specific treatment measures.

 

Status   

 

Major uses of coastal areas

Most of Australia's population live in the coastal zone and most international visitors stay on the coast. In Australia, fisheries are important for local consumption, export and recreation. In terms of tonnage carried and distance travelled, Australia ranks as the fifth largest user of shipping in the world and has 68 main ports. Offshore petroleum production is of great economic and strategic importance to Australia. Oil drilling is prohibited in marine protected areas such as the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and in Ningaloo Marine Park. In the Australian Antarctic Territory, any activity relating to mineral resources, other than scientific research, is prohibited. 

The 1995 State of the Marine Environment Report provided the first comprehensive description of Australia's marine environment, its uses and values, the issues and threats affecting it, and its management.  Subsequent reviews and reports, including the 1996 State of the Environment Report, the 1997 Marine Industry Development Strategy and background papers compiled to assist development of Australia's Oceans Policy, have provided further information on various aspects of marine and coastal environments and their uses.

Contribution of Marine Industries to the Economy

The coastal zone supports about 80 per cent of Australia? total population, most of it highly concentrated in coastal cities in the south-east and south-west. Australia's marine industries grew from $AUS16 billion in 1987 to about $AUS30 billion in 1994, representing about 8 per cent of the country's total economic production (GDP). Annual growth during this period was about 8 per cent in real terms, indicating expansion well in excess of general economic growth. Major marine industries include tourism and recreation estimated to be $AUS15.2 billion, 1993-94), offshore oil and gas ($AUS7.8 billion, 1995-96), shipping ($AUS2.2 billion, 1994-95), commercial fisheries ($AUS1.7 billion, 1994-95) and defence shipbuilding ($AUS1.1 billion). It was estimated in 1994 that the value of marine industries could rise to between $AUS50 to $AUS85 billion by the year 2020.

 

Coastal and marine tourism is a significant proportion of tourism in Australia and is the largest employer of the marine industries. In its 1997 publication, the Australian Marine Industries and Sciences Council estimated that in 1993-94 the value of international and domestic marine tourism and recreation was $15.2 billion.

 

Methods to encourage sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources

With the broadening of fisheries management to accommodate wider environmental and habitat considerations, multiple use or zoning is increasingly becoming a part of fisheries management in Australia.  Commercial fishing activity is generally regulated through fishery management plans. Compliance with these plans is mandatory with State fisheries agencies generally responsible for day-to-day monitoring and policing. The management plans adopted by State and Territory Governments and the Commonwealth Government all embrace the concept of ecologically sustainable development. In 1995, a national policy was developed to address recreational fishing. 

Special arrangements have been made to address fishing bycatches. A Commonwealth Bycatch Policy is at an advanced stage of development and forms the basis of a National Bycatch Policy, currently in draft form. Fundamental to the implementation of these policies will be development of fishery-specific actions including, at the Commonwealth level, formal incorporation of Bycatch Action Plans on a fishery by fishery basis.  Current legislative measures that encourage conservation include: the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975, the Whale Protection Act 1980, and the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.

 

Impact of Shipping

Following the International Maritime Organization (IMO) declaring the Great Barrier Reef a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, the IMO in 1996 gave Australia approval for the introduction of one of the world's first mandatory ship reporting systems. In 1997 REEFREP was launched as part of a major move towards boosting ship safety and reducing the risk of pollution in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. The interactive radio and radar system was established by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Queensland Transport. Under the system, all ships over 50 metres in length and certain other vessels carrying hazardous cargo are required to supply regular position reports to the Ship Reporting Centre, REEF CENTRE, while passing through the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef or the Torres Strait.

 

Impact of coastal and marine based industries

The great majority of Australia's population is concentrated within the coastal zone which has been significantly altered by urban, industrial and port development, and by a variety of facilities for tourism and recreation. Major modifications include coastal engineering structures such as breakwaters and seawalls associated with ports, harbours, canal estates and marinas. 

Primary sources of land-based pollution of the marine environment

Declining water quality caused by rising levels of nutrients is a serious issue affecting Australia's marine and coastal environments. Clearing of land, overgrazing and cropping have greatly increased the amount of sediments entering the sea. A range of discharges and emissions are impacting on our oceans including heavy metals, organochlorines, litter and sewage.

The issue of cumulative impacts generated by the lack of a coordinated and integrated framework for regional planning and management is being addressed by the Coastal and Marine Planning Program (funded through the Natural Heritage Trust).

In response to the issue of marine pollution Australia's Oceans Policy sets out a number of actions such as supporting the development of National Environment Protection Measures.

 

Activities related to fragile ecosystems

Coral reefs are relatively well represented in marine protected areas in Australia. Significant areas are protected in all of the places where reefs are found. Accompanying the Great Barrier Reef there are major areas of coral reefs in the Torres Strait, the Coral Sea Territories, and along the central and northern Western Australian coastline. 

Australia has the highest biological diversity of seagrasses in the world, the largest areas of temperate seagrass and one of the largest areas of tropical seagrass. A series of state workshops on seagrass monitoring were held in 1997. A national workshop was also held with recommendations of the workshop, in particular the need to establish a national seagrass monitoring program, being considered for implementation through the Commonwealth Coastal Monitoring Program under Coasts and Clean Seas

Australia has the third largest area of mangroves in the world, and has some of the most diverse communities. The Ramsar Convention on wetlands includes coastal wetlands such as mangrove forests, salt marshes, dune lakes, lagoons, lakes and swamps. Australia's obligations under the Ramsar Convention are primarily met through legislation and administrative arrangements governed by the State and Territory Governments.

Challenges  

Marine and coastal management in Australia involves a large number of different management strategies, agreements, arrangements and agencies. Government responsibilities in the coastal zone are fragmented and often overlap, impeding effective management and planning. 

The sheer size of Australia's Marine Jurisdiction - 11 million square kilometres of ocean and a further 5.1 million square kilometres of claimable continental shelf - presents particular challenges in terms of the acquisition of knowledge and effective enforcement and surveillance. Basic knowledge of resources and environmental conditions in the remote, deeper areas needs to be expanded in order to improve the management of the oceans.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Coasts and Clean Seas includes capacity building initiatives covering professional development and training such as a short course program to meet the training needs of coastal managers, supports development of industry codes of practice (with the initial focus on aquaculture, recreational fishing, planning and the tourism industry), and is increasing public access to coastal information through the electronic CoastNet and the Australian Coastal Atlas.  A considerable amount of consultation and negotiation with all major players was involved in determining professional development and training needs. Particular attention was given to addressing the special needs of local and state government personnel, who are key decision-makers in coastal areas, as well as committees of management, indigenous managers, industry and community interest groups. 

Other professional development initiatives include a series of cross-cultural management workshops, which aim to provide opportunities for dialogue and information exchange between coastal managers and coastal indigenous groups. This will work towards achieving mutual understanding and cooperation in relation to coastal management.   The Waterwatch Australia Program, a community participation and education program, promotes total catchment planning and management which contributes to addressing land-based pollution. It is Australia's largest environmental education and participation program, with an estimated 50?00 people regularly involved in water way monitoring. Of the 1800 community groups involved, between 200-300 are monitoring tidal waters and are undertaking actions at the local level to improve water quality. 

Campaigns to Raise Awareness, particularly in relation to the International Year of the Ocean.

A substantive contribution to the International Year of the Ocean has been the development and release of Australia's Oceans Policy by the Commonwealth Government. Under this umbrella a number of events, including a national forum and the release of discussion papers on major issues requiring consideration in the development of the Policy, have been undertaken.

A host of activities have been organised to raise community awareness of marine and coastal issues under the International Year of the Ocean banner. Major activities have included an Ocean Writer's Competition, conferences on the role of education in marine conservation, workshops on the prevention of marine pollution, exhibitions and media events. Ocean Care Day was held in December 1998 to celebrate Australia's marine environment. The research vessels RV Franklin and the Southern Surveyor made a series of capital city and regional port calls to provide access for the public to promote understanding of marine research. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has established a web site specifically for the International Year of the Ocean which includes links to CSIRO Marine Research Activities and Information about Australia's Oceans.

Information   

Within all jurisdictions, there are large datasets and information that are not available and readily accessible to the people who need it for informed decision-making. This deficiency is being addressed by the Commonwealth through the development of a suite of internet-based mechanisms, including a national marine information system (NatMIS), the Marine and Coastal Data Directory of Australia, the Australian Coastal Atlas and CoastNet . (Access to these facilities can be made through the Commonwealth's Environmental Resources Information Network (ERIN).  A set of reports on Environmental Indicators for National State of the Environment Reporting(including estuaries and the sea, and ecosystem health) have been produced.

Research and Technologies   

The 1998 draft Marine Science and Technology Plan identifies a range of technology-based marine industries with prospects for future growth, including marine biotechnology and renewable energy. Ownership of genetic resources is likely to become a substantial issue in the development of marine pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. A Commonwealth/State Working Group on Access to Australia' Genetic Resources has been established to investigate and report on action required to develop a national approach to access. A discussion paper was distributed for public comment in April 1998. The Plan proposes means of coordination of effort in its implementation and in better coordinating and managing marine data.

Financing 

The Commonwealth Government allocated $AUS125 million over five years (1996-97 to 2000-01) for Coasts and Clean Seas to focus on marine and coastal environments. The Commonwealth Government has committed $AUS50 million over three years for management of our oceans. The Government also identified an important area for development in implementing Australia's Oceans Policy and moving towards an ecosystem basis for planning and management.

 

Cooperation  

 

Australia has many obligations and engages in a number of activities in the coastal zone because it is a party to various international treaties and conventions. These cover such matters as maritime pollution, shipping operations, oceanic oil pollution, environmental data collection and service provision, coastal navigation, preservation of flora and fauna (including whales, dolphins, seals and migratory birds) and their habitats, and the conservation of World Heritage properties. Agreements may be bilateral (for example, the Japan-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement), regional (for example, the Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region), or global (for example, MARPOL, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships)

Australia is a major donor to the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Community, the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), the University of the South Pacific (USP), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC). Australia also supports the East Asian Seas (EAS) Action Plan and participates in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Marine Resource Conservation Working Group. It has actively contributed to the development and regional implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities (GPA). 

Australia is a founding member of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), and the ICRI Secretariat from 1996 to 1998. Australia is an active participant in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and is playing an important role in the development of the ballast water annex to MARPOL and a global instrument banning the use of organotins as biocides on vessels. Australia signed the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna that entered into force in 1994. Australia, as a member of the International Whaling Commission was an active proponent in the setting up of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Australia is currently discussing with its Pacific neighbours the establishment of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.  Through the Australian aid program, Australia is also committed to the sustainable development of small island developing states (SIDS) with a focus on Pacific island countries. Australia's aid to the Pacific islands (excluding Papua New Guinea) will total an estimated $AUS131.2 million in 1998-99. 

The goal of Australia's aid program is to assist these countries to achieve the maximum possible degree of self-sufficiency. Taking into account recipient government priorities, Australia's own assessment of the principal development needs of the region and its areas of comparative advantage as a donor, Australia's aid program will be focused on selected areas including natural resources management. 

Australia assists natural resource management in the Pacific region through projects in fisheries and through contributions to coastal and oceanic fisheries programs undertaken by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Pacific community.

The Australian aid program addresses issues related to oceans and seas through bilateral and regional projects in coastal management and fisheries and through contributions to coastal and oceanic fisheries programs. One example is the $AUS4 million ASEAN-Australian Economic Cooperation Program (AAECP) Coastal Zone and Environmental Resource Project. This project aims to enhance national capacity and infrastructure in ASEAN countries to better address coastal zone management, and human resource development issues.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th, 6th and 7th sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: February 1999.

For national information on Coastal zone management, click here.

Click here for the Commonwealth Coastal Policy.

Click here for the National Oceans Policy.

Click here for the Marine Science and Technology Plan.

Click here for Coastcare

Click here for the Natural Heritage Trust.

Click here for the Fisheries Action Program

Click here for Sea Dumping Act and Regulations

To access the Web Site of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, click here:

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TOXIC CHEMICALS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

National committees and federal government inter-departmental committees, comprising departments with chemical-related responsibilities, have been created to enhance cooperative consideration of international and domestic chemicals policy issues. The National Registration Authority has the primary decision-making powers in relation to registration or non-registration of agricultural and veterinary chemicals for sale in Australia. Worksafe Australia is responsible for the administration of notification and assessment of industrial chemicals. In the assessment processes of industrial chemicals and agricultural and veterinary chemicals, advice on public health and environmental implications is provided by health, occupational and environmental agencies.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Australia has implemented an extensive legislative and structural framework for the sound management of chemicals at both the federal, State and local levels. Programs are in place for the assessment of industrial, agricultural and veterinary chemicals under federal statutory assessment schemes, including the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) and the National Registration Scheme for agricultural and veterinary chemicals (NRS). Federal government agencies monitor chemicals for bioaccumulation, persistence and unacceptable toxicity and work through NICNAS, NRS, and in conjunction with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Program for Chemical Safety (OECD/IPCS) to set priorities for assessment of chemicals of domestic and international concern. Australia has also established an Existing Chemicals Review Program to review older agricultural and veterinary chemicals against contemporary standards.

Therapeutic chemicals and food additives are also managed through federal legislation which provides a cooperative, national focus for the regulation of chemicals in food and, where appropriate, the establishment of Maximum Residue Limits.  

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The Australian government is strongly committed to the sound management of chemicals and participates in domestic and international activities to implement actions addressing the six program areas of chapter 19 of Agenda 21. It seeks to promote increased collaboration between the Federal, State and Territory Governments, industry, academia and NGOs interested in various aspects of chemicals management. Consultations are held on a regular basis to enable input by industry and other non-government organisations in the development of government policy.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

Australia actively participates in programs aimed at the international exchange of assessment information, including assessments prepared for industrial, agricultural and veterinary chemicals. Progress in this area includes: recent modifications in the structure of some of Australia's assessment reports; negotiations on confidentiality and proprietary rights issues with industry; the development of reports with other countries that provide internationally acceptable content, structure, and decision making information; and provision of information on Australia's schedule of reviews and details of those reports available for exchange.

 

Australia advocates the harmonisation of classification systems and labeling wherever appropriate and has achieved uniform labeling for agricultural, veterinary and domestic chemicals and drugs. Mechanisms for harmonisation of chemicals management are being considered. 

A large program of research and development is conducted by various national and State organisations in cooperation with national research organisations such as CSIRO and universities. Research activities include field evaluation of new products; efficacy trials to determine cost effective treatment and applications rates; alternative pesticides; integrated pest management technology; identification and evaluation of biological control agents and development and evaluation of pest and disease resistance in host plants and animals.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

The Australian government has conducted a major campaign to inform the public about concerns over lead, in particular, providing information and a financial incentive to encourage a switch from leaded petrol. The federal government also undertook and has published the results of a national survey of blood lead levels, particularly of young children.

Information   

The Federal government supports public availability of information on risks presented by industrial, agricultural and veterinary chemicals and participates fully in the voluntary prior informed consent (PIC) procedure. Public information is to be an integral part of programs being developed, such as the strategy to manage scheduled wastes and the National Pollutant Inventory. The Inventory is to be premised on the need for guaranteed access by the public to emissions information.

Australia has developed a National Poisons Register and participates in the development of the IPCS INTOX project which aims to promote the development of poison information centres in each country and to develop harmonised data services to assist poisons centres worldwide in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of poisoning. Australian State and Territory governments have established comprehensive programs aimed at educating workers on chemical safety issues. The chemical industry has also undertaken a voluntary program to improve the health, environmental and safety performance of its operations.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

Australia actively participates in activities to strengthen international and regional cooperation on the safe management of hazardous chemicals. The Australian government is an active member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) and hosted the second Intersessional Group Meeting of the IFCS as part of its support for Forum activities on Chapter 19 of Agenda 21. Australia is a lead country for a number of international risk assessment and risk management activities. Exchange programs for assessment reports on therapeutic chemicals also exist between Australia and Canada, Sweden and New Zealand.

Through its membership of the OECD, Australia participates in international activities aimed at harmonising chemicals management methods (including OECD Test Guidelines and Chemicals and Pesticides Programs) and is involved in the OECD High Production Volume Chemicals Program and the OECD Complementary Information Exchange Procedure, the OECD EXICHEM database (and other relevant international schemes) providing information on regulatory developments. Australia has taken the lead on the exchange of assessment reports on new industrial chemicals through the OECD Chemicals Program and, since 1992, has participated in the OECD pilot pesticides project to compare toxicity data reviews for human health and environmental hazard assessment and the subsequent OECD Ad Hoc Exchange Program for Pesticide Assessments. 

Australia has participated actively in discussions arising from UNEP initiatives to develop a legally binding instrument for prior informed consent (PIC) procedure and to develop recommendations on international action on certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Australia also participates in the UN London Guidelines, the FAO Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, the IRPTC and the ILO information exchange scheme. 

Australia provides assistance to countries in the Asia and the South Pacific regions through the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the South Pacific Regional Environment Program to develop national profiles on chemicals management infrastructure. Australian development cooperation includes risk reduction programs in developing countries, particularly through reducing the need for chemical pesticides and fertilisers. This includes promotion of integrated pest and weed management systems and the improvement of crop species and research into chemical alternatives to pest control. 

 

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

Click here for the National Pollutant Inventory.

Click here for the National Strategy for the Management of Scheduled Wastes.

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WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

SOLID WASTE AND SANITATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

In Australia, waste management is the responsibility of three spheres of government: Federal, State/Territory and local government. Each level of government is responsible for specific roles in regard to the management of waste. The Federal Government is responsible for leading and coordinating the development of the policy and regulatory framework for waste management and for international conventions and agreements on waste.

State and Territory governments are responsible for the development of waste management strategies, legislation, standards and regulations for their jurisdictions. Local governments are responsible for the day to day management of waste collection and disposal. Coordination of national waste management issues is also addressed through the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC). Local governments also develop waste management strategies and plans to manage the large variety of waste materials in their local areas. They are responsible for the day to day management of waste collection, recycling and disposal.

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Strategy (1992) includes recycling targets and national packaging guidelines, sets the target of a 50% reduction in rubbish to landfill by the year 2000 and has national recycling targets to be achieved by 1995. The Strategy complements comprehensive waste minimisation and recycling programs being implemented throughout Australia at all spheres of government. The Strategy incorporates the waste management hierarchy (in order of preference) of waste avoidance, waste reduction, waste recycling or reclamation, waste treatment and waste disposal.  Other waste and water quality management issues are being pursued through, for example, the National Water Quality Management Strategy, involving the following principles:

The material specific targets set out in the National Kerbside Recycling Strategy and the National Packaging Guideline expired in 1995. ANZECC convened a Task Force on Industry Waste Reduction Agreements to develop new voluntary agreements in areas that include green and organic waste, construction and demolition waste and with the packaging industry. The new agreements incorporate waste reduction at source and recycling targets.

The use of economic instruments to deal with solid waste and water issues is currently being widely investigated and/or implemented by the various spheres of government within Australia. Trade waste charges have been proposed and are being implemented by several State governments. Local authorities are reviewing charging systems for water.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

A National Waste Database and a National Solid Waste Classification System are presently being built. Australia is initiating programs to develop and strengthen national capabilities in research and design of environmentally sound technologies, as well as programs designed to reduce industrial waste processes through cleaner production technologies and 'good housekeeping' practices. The EcoRedesign project aims to redesign a number of household products from an environmental and total life cycle perspective. The Federal Government is also running a project demonstrating to industry the environmental and economic benefits of implementing cleaner processes.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Waste Management and Pollution Control (at Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle and Perth) focuses on waste reduction and minimisation, sewerage and water quality, site remediation, instrumentation and monitoring, disposal of wastes from intensive rural industries, on-site treatment of liquid wastes, disposal of wastes as solids, odours and atmospheric emissions and social ecology. Research underway includes waste audit protocols and their application.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

Australia funds a number of projects with sanitation components through the development cooperation program including: UNICEF Water/Sanitation project in Malawi, Waste Management Technology in India, East Timor Water Supply and Sanitation project, Visayas Water and Sanitation in the Philippines, Tarawa Sanitation in Kiribati, South Pacific Sanitation project and the Wei Hai Sewerage Treatment Plant in China. These projects include elements of technology transfer, institutional strengthening and training.

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

Click here for the Waste Management Awareness Program.

Click here for the Australian Waste Database.

 

HAZARDOUS WASTE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Australia signed the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal in 1989 and ratified it in February 1992.

The Australian Federal Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act, 1989, entered into force on 17 July 1990 to implement the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. The Federal Government amended this legislation, effective 12 December 1996, to fully implement its obligations under the Basel Convention. 

Australia is also subject to the OECD Council Decision, which is generally regarded as an Article 11 arrangement under the Basel Convention. Both the Basel Convention and the Council Decision set up notification and consent procedures to track the transboundary movement of hazardous waste. The Council Decision's procedures are simplified for movements between OECD countries of waste destined for recovery. The amended legislation will give effect to this decision under regulations to the Act.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

It is an offence under the amended Act to move hazardous waste internationally without the relevant permit. The maximum penalty applies to offences that are likely to result in injury or damage to human health or the environment and is $1 million for a body corporate or up to 5 years imprisonment for an individual. Lesser penalties apply to other offences. In addition, executive officers of corporations may be held liable if they are found to have been negligent

The Federal Government has a pollution avoidance approach to waste issues and is developing programs to promote this approach in preference to end-of-pipe solutions for disposing of waste. This cleaner production approach is seen as both reducing industry costs and protecting the environment. In encouraging a cleaner production approach, A strategy was developed in 1992 to manage three classes of scheduled wastes, there being polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene and organochlorine pesticides (OPCs). The PCB management plan has been finalised with the hexachlorobenzene plan near completion and the OCP management plan in a developmental stage. The development of the management plans has been built around an extensive public involvement program and has considered relevant socio-economic aspects.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Policy on hazardous waste and related issues has been developed in a highly consultative manner with input for environment and community groups, industry, unions, development cooperation groups and technical experts

Programmes and Projects   

Australia has been constrained by the difficulty in reaching numerous small-to-medium-sized businesses. Pollution avoidance programs are being pursued at Federal, State and local levels. These aim to foster cleaner production, to promote the redesign of products from an environmental, life cycle perspective, and to demonstrate to industry the environmental and economic advantages of minimising the production of waste and pollution. The Federal Government has conducted a series of cleaner production workshops.

Federal funding is assisting several companies to redesign individual products from an environmental as well as functional perspective. The Australian Chamber of Manufactures, under a grant from the Federal Government, is producing environmental management handbooks providing a self-assessment procedure for small industry and there are other industry sector specific manuals being produced under Federal funding. A cleaner production demonstration program is documenting economic and environmental gains including greenhouse gas reductions in several sectors. The results will be promoted widely throughout Australian industry. A Best Practice Environmental Management Program aims to encourage small and medium sized enterprises to use raw materials more efficiently, reduce solid and liquid waste discharges and increase recycling. This focuses upon assisting firms to reduce their running costs, increase production efficiency and to reduce the environmental impact of their activities.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

A system of National Hazardous Waste Management Guidelines has been developed. It involves a mechanism for prior notification, classification of hazardous wastes and transport documents and enables governments to collect information on the production of hazardous wastes. This information is incorporated in the Australian Waste Database. The Australian Government considers that being able to understand the waste stream is central to achieving waste reduction objectives. An important part of Environment Australia's role is to develop an accessible centralised collection of information on waste, which is critical for making informed decisions. To facilitate this, Environment Australia is: 

A National Pollutant Inventory is being established to collect information on emissions and transfers of wastes and pollutants.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

While Australia signed the Regional Convention on Hazardous and Radioactive Waste (the Waigani Convention) on 16 September 1996, it is yet to become a party through the process of ratification. In accordance with Australian treaty-making practice, ratification can only be considered once the Convention has been given effect through domestic legislation.

Australia has assisted in facilitating workshops to discuss the establishment of Regional Centres in Beijing and Jakarta for the treatment of hazardous wastes in the Asian-Pacific Region. Australia held workshops in China and Thailand on cleaner production and environmental management systems in June 1996.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

Click here for the Hazardous Waste Act and Regulations.

Click here for the Hazardous Waste Treatment Technologies Directory.

 

RADIOACTIVE WASTES

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment Act (1986) prohibits the dumping into the sea and the incineration at sea of radioactive material.

The Commonwealth/State Consultative Committee on Management of Radioactive Waste provides an opportunity for Governments to review a range of radioactive waste management issuesSafe storage, transportation and disposal of radioactive wastes is promoted in Australia through national codes of practice promulgated in State and Territory regulations. The Codes have been developed on a federal consultative basis and follow international standards and guidelines developed by the IAEA. The national Code of Practice on the Management of Radioactive Wastes from the Mining and Milling of Radioactive Ores (1982) is to be revised to take account of changes in international philosophies in this area.  

In 1995 a Senate Select Committee was established to inquire into and report on radioactive waste management issues in Australia. A Commonwealth study to identify a suitable site for a national near-surface repository for Australia's low level and short-lived intermediate level wastes recognised under IAEA guidelines as suitable for near-surface disposal, was suspended to take account of the Committee's findings. The Government is currently considering the Committee's report.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

No information is available

Programmes and Projects 

In 1994 the Federal Government commenced a project to rehabilitate the former British nuclear test sites at Maralinga (South Australia). The Maralinga test sites include areas seriously contaminated with plutonium. Earth works required to bury surface contamination in engineered trenches commenced in June 1996 and will be completed in 1998. A further phase of the project involves stabilisation of plutonium contaminated burial pits using in-situ vitrification technology.  

Australia is involved in research and development of methods for the safe and environmentally sound treatment, processing and disposal of radioactive waste. Australia is a major participant in the Alligator Rivers Analogue Project, an aim of which is to develop and test models for radionuclide migration relevant to the assessment of the safety of radioactive waste repositories. The Australian Government is continuing to fund a program for monitoring the effectiveness of a rehabilitation project at the former Rum Jungle uranium site in the Northern Territory. The Rum Jungle mine site represents a unique case study in mine rehabilitation, and there is continuing international interest in the monitoring and maintenance at the site. The research has implications for management of wastes arising from the mining and milling of radioactive ores in Australia and overseas.

Status 

In early 1996 a shipment of spent fuel from the High Flux Australian Research reactor (HIFAR) was made to the UK Atomic Energy Authority's (AEA) Dounreay plant for reprocessing. The purpose of this shipment was to reduce spent fuel holdings at Lucas Heights, Sydney, consistent with Australia's non-proliferation objectives and to convert spent fuel to a waste form amenable to long-term management in Australia. The enriched uranium will also be recovered for re-use in fresh research reactor fuel, further contributing to resource and energy conservation.

Radioactive waste from reprocessing of HIFAR spent fuel will eventually be returned to Australia as a stable intermediate level waste form. Management options for this waste will be considered in the context of arrangements by the Federal and State Governments for management of Australia's other intermediate level radioactive wastes.

Challenges  

 

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing 

Australia set aside $A1.29 million in the 1996/97 budget for contribution to the Technical Assistance Cooperation Fund (TACF) of the IAEA for the 1997 calendar year.

Cooperation

Australia participates in negotiations to draw up an international Convention on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. The purpose of the proposed Convention is to encourage the safe and environmentally sound management of radioactive wastes world wide. Australia supports giving the IAEA Code of Practice on the Transboundary Movements of Radioactive Waste legally binding status under the proposed Convention. Australia is party to the London Convention (1992) and has ratified the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

Australia signed the "Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region" (the Waigani Convention) in September 1995. Australia supports the Waigani Convention as an important initiative which seeks to prohibit the importation of hazardous and radioactive wastes into the Pacific Island Developing Countries; and to regulate and facilitate the environmentally sound management of wastes generated in the Convention Area.

Australia actively supports effort within the IAEA to introduce international radioactive waste safety standards, guidelines and codes of practice. Australia supports research and development into radioactive waste management by participating in activities undertaken by such organisations as the NEA and IAEA and in international forums on radioactive waste management.

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This information was provided by the Government of Australia to the 5th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

Click here for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Click here for the Environmental Research Institute of Supervising Scientists (ERISS).


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