The Environmental Defenders Office has co-signed an open letter alongside almost 60 other groups and individuals calling for a Northern Territory Climate Change Act, delivered to major parties ahead of the Territory Government election this weekend.
The letter was sent on behalf of 59 signatories, calling for a commitment to introduce a robust legislative framework for achieving a target of net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 1.5°-2°C.
The letter states:
Extreme heat, reduced rainfall, health impacts, energy poverty, food insecurity, service disruptions, species loss and ecosystem damage are not distant threats – they are urgent challenges that demand an urgent response.
Aboriginal people, particularly those living in remote communities, are on the frontline of these impacts, as life gets hotter and harder across our regions. These impacts are being experienced with a less than 1 degree increase in average global temperatures, yet the world is on track for significantly greater warming within our lifetimes.
Despite the Northern Territory facing some of Australia’s most extreme climate impacts, we do not yet have a robust legislative framework for climate action.
Signed by a diverse range of community organisations, arts collectives, unions, Indigenous groups, and prominent Australians, the letter calls for an act that legislates clear objectives, binding principles and interim targets, with an independent expert advisory council set up to oversee and provide advice on the Act and its implementation.
It advocates for an Act that is centred on Indigenous Australians, recognising the expertise Aboriginal people bring to deepening our understanding of the impacts of – and responses to – climate change, includinga central role for Indigenous representatives on a proposed NT Climate Advisory Council.
The joint open letter comes off the back of the release of EDO’s A Climate Change Act for the Northern Territory, a law reform proposal released in June this year following NT Climate Justice Forums held in 2019 and 2020, and in anticipation of the upcoming Territory Government election.
The report proposes a Climate Change Act for the Northern Territory that would demonstrate commitment to climate justice for all Territorians, especially vulnerable remote communities and future generations, by setting clear objectives and emissions reductions targets, establishing standards of accountability for government action, and integrating climate change into all aspects of government planning and decision-making.