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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

24 October 2006

Australia on track for sustainable future

Australia is proving that it is possible to have both a healthy economy and a healthy environment, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

Responding to the release of the WWF Living Planet Report 2006, Senator Campbell said that even according to WWF’s calculations, Australia’s global footprint has reduced – from 7.7 global hectares per person in 2004 to 6.6 hectares in 2006.

“While it is disappointing that WWF’s report claims that Australia ranks in the top 10 nations in terms of living unsustainably, it is also encouraging that our footprint has decreased in recent years,” Senator Campbell said.

“This shows that we are making progress, but it’s only part of the story.

“We’re working very hard at addressing environmental impacts, particularly through the Natural Heritage Trust which is spending billions of dollars to repair our rivers.

“Over the past 10 years, with $3.7 billion committed to managing our land and water and another $2 billion to climate change, we have achieved some outstanding results. More recently, $200 million has been committed to tackling water reform through the Australian Water Fund.

“And in the coming days, we’ll be announcing multi-million dollar investments, some of the biggest investments by any government anywhere in the world to address climate change.

“We couldn’t have committed those resources to the environment without a healthy economy.

“There is also good news in that Australia’s emissions growth is only a fraction of the economic growth, which will double from 1990 to 2010. This shows we are successfully uncoupling economic growth from environmental impact.”

Senator Campbell cautioned against a simplistic response to measuring environmental impacts.

“It is simplistic to attribute all environmental problems to over-consumption. For example, this approach doesn’t take account of issues like the impact of salinity, weeds and feral pests, natural disasters, marine debris, or simply poor management practices.”

Senator Campbell said some of WWF’s criteria were a little harsh including measuring Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions on a per capita basis.

“The Howard Government is addressing our emission levels, but we do produce a massive amount of energy for the rest of the world and yet we bare the brunt of accounting methods by WWF,” he said.

“Also, in terms of threatened and endangered species, Australia has more native flora and fauna than any other country on the planet, so I think the measurements for this are a bit harsh on Australia.”

“But we don’t mind being measured by WWF. They’re a sound, sensible international organisation. My aim is to keep us improving. I know Australia is committed to achieving that and this Government is committed to achieving that.”

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

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