One year after the landmark win by Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action in the NSW Land and Environment Court, NSW’s environmental regulator has released a draft of their first climate policy and action plan.
The Court found last August that the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has a legal duty to take serious action on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change – the first time that an Australian court has ordered a government to take meaningful action on climate change.
EDO’s case on behalf of our client, Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA), argued that the EPA has a duty to develop policies, objectives and guidelines to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and protect communities from the impacts of climate change. BSCA spokesperson Fiona Lee, who lost her home in the Black Summer fires almost three years ago, said that this draft plan is an important step in answering that call.
“After the worst bushfire season on record in 2019/20, BSCA decided to use the law to ensure the authority tasked with protecting people and the environment does so effectively,” Ms Lee said.
“Bushfire survivors like me have already endured the devastating effect of climate change on our lives, homes, jobs and security and we know that extreme weather events like these will only increase in intensity and frequency as global temperatures increase. We need drastic emissions reductions this decade to keep our communities safe from further climate dangers.
“We’re pleased that the EPA has released this draft climate change policy and public consultation period. We look forward to getting across the details and preparing our submission in response.
“We also look forward to continuing to work closely with NSW Minister for Environment and Heritage, James Griffin, and the new EPA chief executive, Tony Chappel, to ensure this process delivers real impact in reducing emissions.”
Elaine Johnson, EDO’s Legal Strategy Director said: “This is a significant day for the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action after their historic win last year, when the court found the NSW EPA was required to act on climate.
“We see the release of this draft policy as an important first step – but the devil will be in the details.
“We have analysed the draft policy and action plan and we are working with our clients, partners and the community to ensure we end up with an effective climate plan which delivers real results, and fast. Ahead of our webinar, we will be publishing our analysis and submission guide on key issues to support and strengthen the policy and action plan.
“This is our last chance to get it right. Climate change has already begun. How much worse it gets depends on how quickly we can drive emissions towards zero.
“The Court has made it clear that it’s the EPA’s job to protect Australians from greenhouse gases and climate change – there is no more time to lose.”
Have your say
The draft plan will be open for public submissions until 3 November 2022, and is an opportunity to ensure the EPA implements robust measures, safeguarding Australians and the environment we live in.
Join our community briefing webinar on Thursday 6 October, 6pm-7:30pm to hear independent expert legal analysis of the EPA’s draft Climate Policy and Action Plan. This webinar will be useful for anyone intending to make a submission. Register here.