MEDIA STATEMENT: Albanese Government needs to stop using EPBC Loopholes and stop approving new coal and gas

27 September, 2023

Despite a 2022 climate election, two important new reports have made it clear the Albanese government is not on track to bring emissions reductions in line with global warming targets.

For a government pre-occupied with fixing loopholes, it continues to exploit the biggest loophole of all when it comes to our environment. Despite being loud in opposition when the Samuels Review of the EPBC act was released in October 2020, it’s dragging its feet on reforming the EPBC Act.

The Climate Council’s new Beating Around the Bush Report calls out the elephant in the room when it comes to Australia’s environmental approvals – we can’t continue to consider the environmental impact of a project, without considering its emissions footprint and impact on climate change. To do so makes a mockery of any other effort to protect our environment.

Since enacted, a staggering 740 fossil fuel projects have been approved without appropriate regard to their emissions footprint and impact on global warming and climate change under the EPBC Act.

I’m pressing Minister Plibersek and the Government for climate and nature related disclosures (TCFD and TNFD, to be adopted as ISSB) to be included as part of any approval process. There must be transparency and accountability of the impact of projects being considered.

At the same time, the International Energy Agency today has again warned the world that there can be no new oil, gas or coal projects if the world is to stay on course to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. As global temperatures soar to record highs in 2023, the path to limiting global warming is narrowing and excludes any new oil coal and gas.

Yet, the Albanese government continues to recklessly approve new gas projects and extend coal until the 2070s.

Climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked and it’s time Australia’s laws caught up. We cannot continue to approve projects without consideration to the emissions those projects contribute to global warming and without consideration to our commitments to our country’s emission reductions.

Australia is facing the loss of the flora and fauna that makes us who we are - nearly 2,000 species are on the endangered list and we have the official title of losing the first animal in the world to climate change. But it’s not just nature – it’s our economy. This report highlights that 39% of our economy has a ‘high to very high direct dependency on nature’.  

Despite the unequivocal science that outlines the size and pace of emissions reductions required, the government is recklessly going down the path of the coalition by continuing to approve new fossil fuel projects. Instead, the Albanese government needs to commit to at least 75% emissions reduction by 2035 to avoid climate tipping points.