Research paper on environment policy of Australia
The Australian environmental policy is a comprehensive policy that addresses environmental issues facing the country. The policy operates in different federal agencies and state departments based on the provided commonwealth laws, procedures, and policies. Indeed, the Australian environmental policy encompasses many critical international policies and aligns with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals as well as the country’s 2020 vision of sustainability and environmental development (Burnett, 2015). This paper examines the environmental policy by exploring some critical environmental challenges facing the country, the government’s success, or failure in implementing the policy and addressing the environmental issues, as well as provides recommendations on the best practices to implement the policy.
The environmental policy in Australia came into being after the prominence of environmental issues facing the country and the world in the 1960s and 1970s. In particular, the United Nations identified the need for environmental conservation based on the visible effect on the environment prompted by human activities. Indeed, agricultural practices that include overgrazing and the reliance on poor farming methods resulted in a massive soil erosion and desertification in the country (The Conversation, 2012). Moreover, the use of fossil fuel affected climate change, while airborne waste and solid waste contribute to the environmental issues. Other issues such as increased urbanization, tourism, and the rising ocean temperatures affect the Australian environment. Accordingly, the government developed a comprehensive policy that addresses the diverse environmental issues related to energy, climate change, waste management, and pollution among others.
Various legislations such as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) and the Biosecurity Bill 2014 were enacted to protect the environment and the people from the adversities caused by environmental degradation. In a bid to address the numerous environmental challenges in the federal and state governments, the Australian Government established the Department of the Environment and Energy to design and implement all the policies and programs to protect and conserve the environment (Curran, 2003). However, the implementation of the environmental policy occurs at different stages with each regional/state government having a specified agency to address these issues. As a relatively dry country, Australian environmental policy has overemphasized on climate change and water security (Thomas, 2018). Indeed, this critical area will facilitate and improve environmental conservation while promoting a sustainable lifestyle. The national waste policy and the department of environment and energy is an example of a nationwide program that focuses on sustainability. This policy came into being to address the effects of solid waste by reducing the amount of waste generated in the country and increasing the recycling practices.
The Australian environmental policy is framed to address multiple environmental issues such as climate change, solid waste, water, energy, deforestation, and mining among others. While addressing these challenges, the policy focuses on the implementation of sustainable approaches to ensure the practices, procedures, and policies used to solve the environmental problems are viable and sustainable. The government has drawn expertise from different fields to help in the formulation and implementation of the environmental policies. Indeed, a focus on the various governments since the 1970s illustrate that the environmental policy continues to be a top agenda among the various rulers of the country.
The Australian Conservation Foundation is an NGO that addresses the various environmental issues in the country that campaigns for a political willingness to address the environmental issues. An unbelievable statistics on the implementation and success of the Australian government in realizing its environmental objectives reveals that the government has a poor score (Wilkins & Dieter, 2017). Although there are good environmental objectives, the CO2 emission is raising and the introducer system of paying business to reduce the emission are deemed ineffective by experts. The increasing infrastructure development affects the environment while the high-energy consumption remains a concern as the use of renewable energy declines.
The establishment of the environmental policy was to address these concerns. Indeed, the government developed the environmental policy with an aim of addressing the high-risk environmental aspects identified in the department’s Environmental Risk Assessment (Wilkins & Dieter, 2017). In this quest, various stakeholders including political leaders, the civil society, and the public have a duty to ensure compliance with the government legislation, policies, and planning instruments that safeguard the environment. In addition, all stakeholders must maintain environmental standards, principles, and practices for energy use, greenhouse emission, ozone-depleting substances, and ensure effective use of water and other resources that contribute to environmental degradation.
The establishment of the environmental policy relied on the expertise of different disciplines such as environmentalists, engineers, and other experts in different areas that affect the environment. Some of the areas targeted by the policy include agriculture, mining, building and construction, industry, tourism, and culture (Thomas, 2018). Firstly, environmentalists were significant in providing the environmental risk analysis in different departments to assess the threats and provide recommendations and best practices to mitigate the problems. The environmental analysis was critical in providing an analysis of the environmental impact of the different economic activities on the environment including effects on climate change, greenhouse gas emission, effects of agricultural practices on soil erosion, and deforestation. Engineers in charge of various construction, building, and mining project were critical in the policy development to offer insight on the impact of their activities on the environment and in developing the appropriate mitigation approaches for these challenges.
Evidently, construction, mining, and building contribute to environmental pollution through the emission of CO2 and other harmful gases that deplete the ozone layer. In addition, these activities produce solid waste and other hazardous waste from industries. When these wastes are inefficiently treated and managed, they contribute to environmental pollution that affecting the plants and animals (Percival et al., 2017). The collaboration of engineers, environmentalists, and other experts resulted in the development of the national waste policy that aims at reducing the amount of waste generated in the country, manage waste as a resource, reduce greenhouse emission, and energy consumption as well as ensure proper disposal, treatment, reuse, and recycle of waste.
Experts from the tourism and heritage departments also engaged in the development of the policy to help in understanding the effects of national parks, tourists, heritage lists, international projects, and historic shipwrecks on the environment (Renton & Bailey, 2000). In addition, they contributed to the development of the practices to ensure these natural and historical artifacts and areas receive maximum protection to facilitate tourism while promoting environmental conservation in a sustainable manner.
The Australian government has failed in the implementation of the environmental policy over the years. A comparison of the country’s infrastructure with most countries in Europe and some developed countries in Asia reveal a significant gap in the fight against environmental pollution. In a country where carbon emission has tripled since 1971 and the use of renewable energy declined since the 1970s, the Australian public and civil society have a role to ensure the government implements this policy to change the lifestyle (Thomas, 2018). Since environmental pollution causes various chronic diseases such as cancer and affects agricultural production due to climate change, it is imperative for the government to prioritize the adherence to the legislation and policies at all levels.
The public and the civil society can achieve this through democratic powers and public outcry. For example, the Australian Conservation Foundation is in a mission to make “climate damage such a big election issue.” Notably, this is a move to draw attention to the public concern over the government’s failure in its implementation of the environmental policy. The Non-governmental organization focuses on conducting a countrywide climate campaign that will create awareness among the people and call the public to call the government into account. Indeed, it projects that through the campaign, the next elections will center on environmental issues; thus, ensuring the next government will “step up and act” (ACF, 2018). The specific actions required include a focus on the energy sector, the infrastructure, and greenhouse gas emission. Through the ACF, the Australian public has a chance to participate elevate climate change to draw the attention of the national woes to the political leaders including those intending to form the next government. Through the campaign, the public will pass a message that will inform the candidates that environmental issues are critical and a national priority.
It is unfortunate that the environmental policy in Australia has little effect as the country records a decline in its achievement of environmental objectives. However, this has nothing to do with the environmental policy framing but with the political will to implement it. The lack of policy reforms and the establishment of procedures and guidelines for the environmental policy have resulted in its failure.
The Australian environmental policy is a comprehensive policy that captures key environmental issues in the country and provides the best approaches in addressing them. The policy is wide and assumes a national approach with implementation at the agency or state level. The policy is extended to cover various areas including climate change, waste management, ocean ecosystem, as well as greenhouse gas emission and energy conservation. The government established the policy to address the various environmental issues facing the country and adhere to the international environmental requirements. Although the policy is comprehensive and captures every sector in the Australian economy, the lack of a political goodwill to implement it has resulted in a low score on environmental conservation. Nonetheless, the civil society through the ACF has initiated a campaign program to create awareness and compel the political class to place climate change/environmental issues as a priority in their agenda.
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