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NT's key climate policy too weak to reduce emissions

The Northern Territory Government (NTG) is developing a policy which applies to new and expanding projects that require environmental approval under the Environment Protection Act 2019.

The Northern Territory Government needs to rapidly decarbonise the economy to reduce the impacts of climate change and meet their 2050 target of net-zero emissions.  While ALEC strongly supports the development of emissions reduction policies and clear plans to reduce emissions from projects in the NT, we’re concerned that the draft policy is extremely weak and will have limited efficacy to drive the Territory towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

Background

The draft “Large Emitters Policy” (the Policy) is supposed to reduce greenhouse gases and the risks associated with climate change by forcing developers with large greenhouse gas emissions to take responsibility for their emissions.

However the Policy imposes arbitrary definitions and rules for defining “large greenhouse gas emitting actions” which can lead to confusion. Furthermore, the policy is not linked with any legislation and is therefore not enforceable.

What’s ALEC’s take on it?

ALEC recognises that this is a first step in the reform process of GHG emissions, but is nonetheless disappointed at the limited scope of the policy.  The policy is a missed opportunity in offering a genuine greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions policy that will result in reduced emissions.

ALEC is concerned that the policy:

  • Only applies to new and expanding projects (ignoring all of the Territory’s existing emissions)
  • Won’t apply to shale gas exploration wells
  • Won’t apply to small and medium-scale land clearing activities. A mosaic of land clearing destruction and carbon emissions is being facilitated by the reform.   

ALEC welcomes:

  • The development of emissions reduction policies and clear plans to reduce emissions 
  • Requirement for projects to develop and implement a Greenhouse Gas Abatement Plan 
  • Reform that would link the policy to the Environment Protection Act thus making it legally enforceable 

Overall, ALEC considers the Large Emitters Policy to be extremely weak as it fails to capture many GHG emitting activities in the Northern Territory. The policy in its current form needs to be significantly amended. Read our full submission here.

 

Image: Around Alice by Silentmind8 via Flickr

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