April 16, 2024

Albanese Government shelves environment reform as disaster strikes coral reefs globally

National organisations representing hundreds of thousands of Australians that want Australia’s natural environment protected from the ravages of climate change are dismayed after the Albanese Government said it was delaying substantive national environment law reform.

The news comes just as it is revealed today that coral reefs worldwide have been hit by one of the worst mass bleaching events ever recorded, caused by sustained marine heatwaves.

The delay means that close to 30 new coal and gas projects will likely now be approved under the very weak, current national environment laws which were introduced by John Howard more than 25 years ago, pouring yet more fuel on the climate fire.

Alex Fuller, National Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition said, “Young Australians will be bitterly disappointed by further delay from our government in doing what my generation and those who come after us need: decisive leadership to quickly and fairly phase out fossil fuels, just as Climate Minister Bowen promised at the last UN climate summit.

“From floods to bushfires, Australian communities are already living with the impacts of climate change. We cannot afford any more setbacks; we urgently need strong laws with the power to stop new coal and gas projects that are fueling this climate crisis.”

Kelly Albion, Acting CEO for 350.org said, “The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing never before seen coral bleaching. Forests in Western Australia are collapsing. Marine ecosystems, coastal ecosystems, iconic wildlife and the future of all Australians hang on decisions the Albanese Government makes right now.

“This delay shows the government is not serious about climate change, not serious about intergenerational equity, and not serious about protecting Australia’s natural heritage.

“Australians expect our government to protect nature and prevent catastrophic climate change and across the country we can expect to see people stand up and take action in response to this extraordinary failure.”

Carmel Flint, National Coordinator of Lock the Gate Alliance said, “Big coal and gas companies wanted this delay and they got it.

“Instead of acting on the twin extinction and climate crises and protecting Australia, the Albanese Government has chosen, in the middle of one of the worst global coral bleaching events in history, to capitulate to the mining industry.”

“Delaying these reforms will cause untold environmental damage – more than 30 coal and gas projects are likely to be approved that will drain groundwater, bulldoze habitat for iconic endangered species like the koala and turbocharge climate change.”

At 9:30am on Wednesday morning, Lock the Gate Alliance and AYCC will appear at a hearing of the inquiry into Australia’s extinction crisis.

From 29 April, members of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and 350.org will be participating in Rise Up – twelve days of protest action against expanding coal and gas mining. 

Alex Fuller, Kelly Albion and Carmel Flint are available for interview or further comment.