(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s environment laws are “not fit for purpose” and should be changed to consider threats of climate change, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young says.
The Greens are drafting legislation which would insert a “climate trigger” into federal environment laws, ensuring that pollution is considered in project proposals.
Senator Hanson-Young says environmental assessments should include the impact of pollution and on climate change, including projects where resources are exported overseas.
“Because we know that a big part of what Australia is facing is a global problem,” she told ABC’s Radio National on Tuesday.
“The pollution in the atmosphere doesn’t stop at Australia’s borders. If we export this stuff overseas it’s going to make climate change worse.”
The South Australian senator such laws “should” rule out any new coal mines.
“We can’t deal with the escalation of climate change if we don’t stop making things worse,” she said.
“We’ve got these federal environment laws but they’re so out of date and not fit for purpose that at the moment they don’t even consider the impact of carbon pollution.”
Senator Hanson-Young is also putting pressure on the federal government to release the latest emissions data, after it missed last Friday’s Senate-imposed deadline.
She says the government is “hiding” the figures from the public, which may show pollution has continued to increase.
Labor environment spokeswoman Terri Butler said her party had taken to the election a policy of inserting a reference to climate change in federal environmental laws, which had not been significantly reformed in two decades.
“I will be holding discussions with colleagues, stakeholders and the community to formulate our policy for the next election,” she told AAP.
Labor also pledged a new Environmental Protection Agency.