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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

16 November 2000

GREENHOUSE TRIGGER


The release today of draft greenhouse regulations signalled the next phase of consultation on the possible application of a greenhouse trigger under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has released the draft regulations on the eve of his departure for the 6th Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention in The Hague.

Senator Hill says the design of the trigger ensures it will only apply to projects of national environmental significance.

"The Kyoto Protocol does not mean that we can't have economic growth in Australia. What it does mean is that we have to be both smarter and more efficient in the way we go about achieving that growth," Senator Hill said.

"Under the draft regulations, the EPBC Act would be triggered by major new developments if they are likely to result in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 0.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in any 12 month period.

"This threshold is equivalent to approximately 10% of the average annual increase in Australia's total greenhouse emissions. It would therefore apply only to projects that can properly be regarded as of national environmental significance, such as the building of a new coal-fired power plant."

Senator Hill explained that a project exceeding the trigger threshold would be subject to an environmental impact assessment process.

"The assessment would normally be carried out by the relevant State government under an accredited State regime. This would avoid any duplication of effort between the Commonwealth and the States. The assessment would addresses greenhouse issues such as the extent of likely emissions, and whether the project design represents 'best practice' from a greenhouse perspective."

Senator Hill said that the greenhouse trigger is a cost-effective mechanism that can help Australia meet its international responsibilities at least cost.

"The design reflected in the regulations will minimise the burden on Australian industry and safeguard our international competitiveness," he said.

"The trigger process provides that environmental, economic and social factors must be taken into account. Effects on international competitiveness and regional development would therefore be factored into the assessment and approval process. The delivery of any net greenhouse benefits, such as through the adoption of new technology, would also be considered. "

Senator Hill said that he had written to State and Territory governments seeking their views on the draft regulations.

A copy of the draft regulations and a related discussion paper can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc

November 16, 2000

Media contact: Belinda Huppatz 08 82377920 or 0419 258364.

Commonwealth of Australia