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Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2003-04

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
ISSN 1441 9335

Appendix 4 - Environmental performance1

This report is presented in accordance with the requirements of section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

  1. How the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (section 516A(6)(a))
  2. How the outcomes specified in a relevant Appropriations Act contribute to ecologically sustainable development (section 516A(6)(b))
  3. Effect of the organisation's activities on the environment (section 516A(6)(c))
  4. Measures being taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment (section 516A(6)(d))
  5. Mechanisms, if any, for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures (section 516A(6)(e))

1. How the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (section 516A(6)(a))

The following activities of the Department accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development:

The following activities accord with the principle of integrating environmental, social, and economic considerations:

The following activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, especially by employing or promoting the use of the precautionary principle:

The following activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development by aiming to promote conservation of the environment for the benefit of future generations:

The following activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development by ensuring that biodiversity and ecological integrity are fundamental to decision-making:

The following activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development by aiming to improve valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms:

2. How the outcomes specified in a relevant Appropriations Act contribute to ecologically sustainable development (section 516A(6)(b))

The Department's role is to achieve two major outcomes for the Australian Government. The outcomes are:

  1. the environment, especially those aspects that are matters of national environmental significance, is protected and conserved; and
  2. Australia's interests in Antarctica are advanced.

Outcome 1 contributes directly to ecologically sustainable development by protecting and conserving the environment, with its major focus on threats that are serious enough to be of national significance. Thus it contributes to protecting biodiversity and ecological systems and to maintaining the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for future generations. Outputs, which deliver the ecologically sustainable development aspects of Outcome 1, are discussed in section 1 above on how the Department's activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.

Outcome 2 does not explicitly contribute to ecologically sustainable development, but one of the goals of the Department's Australian Antarctic Division is to protect the Antarctic environment, the Southern Ocean, and the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, including by developing ways to minimise human impact, remediating past work sites, administering environmental legislation, developing policy, and undertaking research. It thus contributes to ecologically sustainable development by providing information, which enables biodiversity conservation and ecological systems to be considered in decision making, and by protecting the health and diversity of the Antarctic environment for future generations.

3. Effect of the organisation's activities on the environment (section 516A(6)(c))

The Department's mission of 'national leadership in the protection and conservation of the environment' ensures that the effect on the environment of most of its activities, including policies, programmes and administration of legislation, is a positive one. Positive effects of the Department's activities on the environment in 2003-04 are detailed throughout this annual report.

In the course of its normal daily operations, the Department also contributes to a range of negative impacts on the environment through its consumption of electricity, petrol, water, paper and other materials and through its generation of waste. The Department's office tenant light and power at the John Gorton Building for 2003-04 was 1 447 630 kilowatt hours. The Department's vehicle fleet used 55 103 litres of petrol and travelled 499 586 kilometres in 2003-04. The combined gross greenhouse emissions were 530 tonnes of CO2-e ('tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent' - calculated by multiplying the actual mass of emissions by the appropriate global warming potential factor published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The Department's paper consumption was 15.08 reams per person per year. Figures for water, material consumables other than paper, and the total amount of waste generated are not available. For more information, see the triple bottom line report under 'Other reports'.

4. Measures being taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment (section 516A(6)(d))

Through a structured Environmental Management System, which has been certified to the international standard ISO14001, the Department monitors a range of its operational activities including the management of energy, water and wastes, the departmental fleet, and purchasing. The system provides a framework for considering and minimising environmental impacts within the context of continual improvement.

Key environmental management actions and performance for 2003-04 included:

Additionally, the Department:

5. Mechanisms, if any, for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures (section 516A(6)(e))

The Environmental Management System for the Canberra offices is reviewed every three years for certification to the ISO14001 standard. This review, as well as internal reviews of the environmental management systems for the other office locations, is used to identify and address the negative environmental impacts within the context of continual improvement.

Key environmental management goals for 200405 include:

1 See also the triple bottom line report under 'Other reports'.

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