Articles on Environmental law

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Global carbon emissions, by country - climate legislation helps. Distantbody

In praise of Britain’s Climate Change Act

Approved with overwhelming support from all political parties, the Climate Change Act came into force in 2008 and was hailed as a ground-breaking piece of legislation that would guide Britain’s transition…
Tarkine mines must now fund Tasmanian Devil conservation. But what about the rest of it? Flickr/Gopal Vijayaraghavan

Tasmania’s Tarkine needs a strategic plan

The Federal Government has now approved two mines for the Tarkine region of Tasmania, on condition that the mines fund conservation measures for Tasmanian Devils and other threatened species. The approvals…
Oil on the water: Russian environmental problems are commonplace, but who’s watching? Denis Sinyakov/Greenpeace

Russia’s crumbling environmental safeguards

The Russian state’s engagement with environmental concerns is complicated, carrying as it does a heavy legacy from Soviet times. From the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster (in what is Ukraine…
If oil spills in the forest and no one is around to see it, will anyone care? Denis Sinyakov/Greenpeace

Few hear the cries of those fighting to save wild Russia

Lying to either side of the Urals, the Republic of Komi and Khanty-Mansiysk in the north of Russia are among the country’s most oil-rich regions. Scarcely populated, they provide a substantial share of…
Despite the popularity, a national container deposit scheme isn’t the right way to clean up our litter. Flickr/nist6ss

Container deposit laws past their use-by date

The old-fashioned approach to recycling in which consumers pay a redeemable deposit on drink containers is popular among all kinds of people, from Greenpeace members to traditional Coalition voters. But…
Frack orf: fracking hasn’t had the same reception here as it has in the US. Georgie Gillard/PA

Laying down the law over fracking

Foundation essay: This article on the different international attitudes to fracking by Professor John Paterson, Chair in Law at Aberdeen University, is part of a series marking the launch of The Conversation…
Australia is already clearing land at world-leading rates. Ray Christie/Indigo Skies Photography

Clearing more land: we all lose

Last week the Queensland parliament passed laws relaxing land clearing and opening up national parks to cattle grazing. Victoria has proposed similar clearing changes. It’s no surprise more clearing is…
People are right to be worried about how thoroughly coal and gas’s affect on water is being assessed. cobalt123/flickr

Coal and gas fail the test when it comes to environmental impact

There has been an acceleration in the number of coal seam gas and mining proposals approved in Australia. Since 2010, eight projects have been given the green light in Queensland alone. All projects have…
Take care! The precautionary principle can only go so far without data to rely on. Jeremy Buckingham

Environmental assessment of coal seam gas lacks scientific back-up

Yesterday, the Federal government issued new recommendations for methods to estimate emissions from conventional gas and from coal seam gas production. So what did we learn? The proposals seek to refine…
Is Coca-Cola Amatil’s opposition to the Northern Territory’s container deposit scheme out of concern for household budgets or simply decreased profit margins? Flickr/Julian Stallabrass

Coke chokes the NT container deposit scheme

A reported 10 billion drink containers are thrown away in Australia every year. Many of these are recycled, but many end up in landfill, on roadsides and in waterways. The danger posed to wildlife by plastic…
When the community feels locked out of the environmental approvals process, they look for other avenues. Kate Ausburn

Whitehaven hoax shows NSW planning system can’t cope with community concern

This week’s hoax email from an anti-coal activist, Jonathan Moylan, highlights an emerging issue in land-use conflicts both in Australia and internationally. Activists, and in many instances, communities…
The NSW Government recommends not eating fish caught west of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Gord McKenna/Flickr

Sydney Harbour’s toxic legacy shows value of green safety net

The story of dioxin contamination of Sydney Harbour shows us the great value of the green safety net of environmental law. The laws that form this green safety net, particularly federal laws, have recently…
The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park was the scene of environmental disputes between the Tasmanian and federal governments. Nomad Tales/Flickr

Australia’s scrambled egg of government: who has the environmental power?

Logical minds like to think of the different levels of government like a neatly layered cake, but the reality is more like scrambled eggs. Nowhere is that more true than in relation to protecting and managing…
The NSW government has cut funding to the EDO, which provides legal advice to the public on environmental matters. SplaTT/Flickr

Legal profession rallies behind the Environmental Defenders Office

In Greek mythology the Hydra was a reptilian guardian, a multi-headed creature defending one of the entrances to the underworld. If a would-be killer removed one of its heads, two more would grow in its…
Dealing with the law is intimidating, now Queensland wants to make it more expensive as well. Martin Howard

Scales of justice tipping against the community in Queensland

The cost of litigation is a barbed wire fence that stops many people using our court system. This fence becomes a towering barrier when people are trying to protect not their private interests, but something…
Sandon Point, where EDO NSW argued a landmark case for a resident concerned about a development that failed to consider climate change and increased flooding. Powerhouse Museum

Environmental defenders under attack: why funding must be restored

With a new planning system about to be introduced in NSW, the need for an independent, specialist public interest environmental and planning law centre is greater than ever. For nearly 30 years, the Environmental…
The proposed logging bill would tighten exportation from Indonesia in particular. CIFOR

Australia attempts to stump illegal loggers

The Australian Senate is about to take on the task of stopping illegal logging, with legislation banning the importation and sale of timber products containing illegally logged timber being considered…
Brigalow trees are vital for soil health and erosion control. They’re only just recovering from 19th century clearing. Why does the Queensland Government have it in for them? Arthur Chapman

Queensland land-clearing changes threaten trees farmers need

The Queensland State Government has recently proposed changes to the Vegetation Management Act 1999. Under the planned reforms, landowners will be able to clear and thin out vegetation using self-assessable…
The US Endangered Species Act controversially lets ordinary citizens propose endangered species: would it work in Australia? Doug Beckers

Trust the public: citizens can help save endangered species

The US Endangered Species Act, which became law in 1973, was one of the first major pieces of national legislation for the protection of biodiversity. It is still one of the most stringent. It has also…
The EPA has made great strides in protecting waterways, but its pollution licences still don’t do what they should. Ian Wright

Time for NSW to take chemical leaks seriously

NSW is not doing enough to prevent excessive environmental damage from chemical leaks: it is more common than many people realise for liquid wastes to be discharged into waterways. The NSW Environment…

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