Publications archive - International Activities and Commitments
Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.
Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.
Implementation of Agenda 21
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1996
ISBN 0 6422 4868 0
This chapter provides an overview of Australian initiatives to protect the atmosphere, structured according to the four program areas identified in Chapter 9 of Agenda 21.
References to these initiatives are also included in other parts of the report where they are relevant to that chapter of Agenda 21.
The Australian scientific community is actively involved internationally and domestically in a wide range of programs to reduce uncertainties and improve measures to protect the atmosphere.
Australia is a land of climatic extremes. The range of climatic regimes varies from tropical in the north, through the large arid interior (over seventy per cent of land area is classified arid or semi-arid), to the temperate regions of the south. Over most of the continent the rainfall is extremely variable with Australia often characterised as a land of droughts and flooding rains. One of the causes of this extreme variability is the influence of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. The years 1994-95 saw the continuation of extreme drought conditions over an extensive area of the eastern states. The drought was linked to an abnormal ENSO phenomenon which has persisted since early 1991.
Northern Australia also periodically experiences extreme winds and rains associated with intense tropical cyclones. As the scientific knowledge and understanding of the Australian climate and its variability has grown through systematic monitoring and research, the focus of government policies has shifted from developing survival responses to the management of climatic impacts in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
There is increasing community and government concern at the potential impacts of climate change which will stem from increased levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere as a result of human activities. The first Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory published in 1994, showed that Australia's main sources of greenhouse gas emissions include the widespread (and highly dependent) use of fossil fuels as a primary energy source, a large agricultural sector and a significant level of land use change. Scientific research is being undertaken in a wide range of programs in a number of institutions, supported by an enhanced observational program.
The loss of stratospheric ozone is most severe in the southern hemisphere. In recent years, the 'ozone hole' over the Antarctic during spring has been the largest ever recorded. Losses in stratospheric ozone of two to four per cent per decade have also been measured over the Australian continent. Such losses result in an increase in potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation at ground level.
More than eighty-six per cent of Australians live on or close to the coast and major urban areas in this zone experience relatively good air quality most of the time. Most coastal airsheds, however, suffer episodes of low atmospheric dispersion, often for days at a time, with a resulting increase in levels of photochemical smog, particulates and reduced visibility. The major source of air pollution in Australian cities is motor vehicles.
A number of national and international scientific programs have been undertaken to further investigate and understand Australia's climate and its variability. Australian scientists have played an active role in the various components of the World Climate Research Programme including the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment and the Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program.
The objective of the TOGA program was to describe, model and predict the variability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system on seasonal time-scales with a particular focus on understanding of the ENSO phenomenon. The final field phase for TOGA, the Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Experiment, extended from November 1992 through to March 1993 and was aimed at exploring the role of the so-called warm pool in the western Pacific to the north-east of Australia in the development of tropical convection and associated larger-scale climate phenomena. Scientific analysis of the results will provide a firmer basis for the development of seasonal to interannual prediction for the Australian region.
Australia undertakes a significant atmospheric observational program. An essential element in the detection and monitoring of climate change is the measurement of atmospheric trace gases, including greenhouse gases and aerosols, ozone depleting substances, solar radiation and conventional meteorological parameters. For a number of years Australia has operated a baseline air pollution station at Cape Grim on the pristine north-west tip of Tasmania. The Cape Grim station represents Australia's contribution to the World Meteorological Organisation Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network, a component of the Global Atmosphere Watch. Recent results show a decline in the rate of increase in chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) entering the atmosphere indicating a peak in about the year 2000. In addition, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) carries out a range of sophisticated trace gas measurements through its Global Atmospheric Sampling Laboratory.
Australia is involved in the planning and implementation of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the complementary Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). An Australian GCOS/GOOS Joint Working Group coordinates national participation in these new international collaborative efforts which aim to improve the understanding of the atmosphere and its interface with the oceans. Australia's contribution was recently enhanced through the introduction of improved processing and distribution systems.
In 1995 the Bureau of Meteorology designated some 100 surface observing stations as Reference Climate Stations. The purpose of the network of stations is to provide long-term homogeneous records of high quality for use in detecting and monitoring climate change. Most of the stations have at least thirty years of homogeneous records with the expectation that the site and its environment will be maintained into the future.
There is a wide range of research activities within Australia addressing the uncertainties of climate change. The Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST) Climate Change Program covers a wide range of activities and interests with three key components: the National Greenhouse Research Program, the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and the Impacts and Adaptation Activities. A unifying theme is that all these activities draw on scientific research and policy-specific investigations to generate information to inform key policy decisions, at the local, state, national and international levels.
National Greenhouse Research Program. The Commonwealth Government, under the National Greenhouse Research Program, provides funding for a Core Research Program aimed at extending fundamental understanding of climate change. The core program is undertaken by the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the National Tidal Facility, for the:
The National Greenhouse Advisory Committee (NGAC) oversees the Core Research Program and promotes the dissemination of authoritative information on climate change science to the public. The NGAC also makes recommendations on the award of grants under the Dedicated Greenhouse Research Grants Scheme, a further program for enhancing climate change research. Eleven three-year grants were awarded in 1990, and the second round of funding saw another seventeen, three-year grants awarded in 1993 and 1994. The Core Research Program and Dedicated Greenhouse Research Grants Scheme together comprise the National Greenhouse Research Program.
National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Australia published its first comprehensive National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) in 1994. A prerequisite for the compilation of the national inventory was the development of a methodology appropriate for Australian statistics. The methodology had to take into account conditions specific to Australia and at the same time be consistent with international requirements regarding transparency, consistency, compatibility and comparability. The approach adopted was to view Australian economic activity on a sectoral basis according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ) guidelines and develop an appropriate method for each sector.
The national inventory provided a detailed account of Australia's sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the energy, land use change and forestry, and agricultural sectors for the years 1988 and 1990. Subsequently, Australia incorporated the results into its National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC).
Producing the NGGI gave Australia the means to: provide a better basis for policy development on greenhouse gas mitigation strategies; monitor emissions of greenhouse gases from sources and removals by sinks associated with all IPCC designated sectors of activity; develop emission projection scenarios; and provide a major component of reports on Australia's greenhouse response actions in accordance with national and international commitments.
In support of the production of the NGGI is a research program which includes economic and statistical investigations. Current research projects include methane fluxes from wetlands, a continental carbon source sink inventory and direct verification of non CO2 emissions from specific sources.
Work is now underway on the production of the next phase of the national inventory. National reporting requirements under the FCCC include the production of annual inventories for all years between 1988 and 1994 inclusive. In addition, Australia is revising its inventory methodology, the results of which will assist the development of higher quality inventories.
The New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) also commissioned a Greenhouse Gas Inventory of New South Wales which estimated emissions from a range of human activities and land uses for 1990 and included projections to the year 2000. Although the inventory relies on estimations and involves significant uncertainties, the results provide a good overview of the patterns of greenhouse contributions which will help guide the development of abatement strategies and in assessing the impacts of new development proposals.
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation. Under the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST) Climate Change Program, a range of impacts and adaptation investigations have taken place. This activity has focused on policy relevant research, enabling it to contribute to national policies on climate change and the environment and other policy areas. The program also seeks to influence policy development and research activities of other agencies and organisations.
Investigations undertaken as a result of 'impacts' funding have covered a wide range of sectors and activities. There has been a concentration on coasts, agriculture and rangelands (including pests, weeds and diseases), native ecosystems, the ENSO phenomenon, and human health.
Australian scientists have played an active role in the IPCC (established under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme). A number of Australian researchers have served as lead authors for the IPCC 1994 report on the radiative forcing of climate change and the IPCC second assessment report.
Although urban air quality is generally good, some major cities experience significant pollution episodes when atmospheric conditions prevent rapid dispersion of pollutants. In cities such as Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, the impacts of rapid industrial growth, increasing population and increasing use of motor vehicles, threaten to offset some of the earlier improvements in air quality.
Two major studies, the New South Wales Metropolitan Air Quality Study and the Perth Photochemical Smog Study, commenced in 1992. The three year New South Wales study, completed in July 1995, identified the sources of photochemical smog precursors and the processes by which they form smog. It involved the establishment of an enhanced monitoring network, the preparation of inventories for a range of pollutants, improved understanding of local air flows and atmospheric information, and warnings of related health effects. The results of the study and the capabilities it provides are being used to develop a progressive and comprehensive air quality management plan to ensure improved air quality in urban areas. The Perth study is a similar undertaking with a significantly enhanced monitoring network, a detailed emissions inventory and the development of an airshed model with a prediction capability. In Brisbane, an air quality strategy has recently been completed and published.
The quality of Melbourne's air has been monitored by a comprehensive multi-parameter site monitoring network since 1975. The Victorian Environment Protection Authority airshed models have predicted a continuing improvement in Melbourne's air quality over the next five to ten years.
Lead emissions have been falling steadily in major Australian urban areas since the introduction of unleaded petrol in 1986 and the gradual phase-out of leaded petrol. Recently, the Lead Round Table Initiative (a voluntary agreement between the Commonwealth Government and State Governments and industry) has encouraged the use of unleaded petrol in older vehicles supported by a public awareness campaign and the introduction of a price differential between leaded and unleaded petrol. Significant drops in airborne lead levels have resulted. Nationally, the use of leaded petrol fell below the use of unleaded petrol for the first time in January 1995. The 1993 New South Wales State of the Environment (SoE) Report showed that following the introduction of unleaded petrol in 1985, ambient concentrations of lead in central Sydney fell below health goals, with the 1995 report showing further reductions.
The knowledge that potentially toxic substances are present in the air we breath has fuelled public concern about related health risks. To quantify these risks and identify toxic compounds in ambient air the New South Wales EPA has commenced a pilot study in Sydney which includes: an air toxic emissions inventory targeting twenty-eight industry specific compounds to help develop a priority list of substances; ambient twenty-four hour air measurements at eighteen fixed sites targeting volatile organic compounds; mobile laboratory measurements using gas chromatography; and remote measurement using differential optical absorption spectrometers. The results are expected to be reported in 1996 and included in subsequent state of the environment reports.
Broader research on the quality of Australia's urban environments has been undertaken by the Australian Urban and Regional Development Review, located within the Commonwealth Department of Housing and Regional Development. The principal aim of the review was to identify ways in which the ecological sustainability of Australian urban areas can be enhanced. The study examined air quality, energy, solid waste, water quality and coastal urbanisation and proposed ways of enhancing environmental performance and sustainability. Community surveys indicated widespread concern about air quality issues and, in particular, the possible link to a range of adverse health effects.
Under Schedule 4 of the InterGovernmental Agreement on the Environment, Australian Governments agreed to the establishment of a National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) to introduce measures for the protection of the environment in specified areas, including ambient air quality. Once established, these measures will be legally binding on all parties. Complementary legislation has now been put in place in most jurisdictions and the formation of the NEPC, on 15 September 1995, will facilitate the setting of national air quality standards.
In the implementation of its development cooperation program, Australia places an emphasis on helping developing countries to establish appropriate planning and institutional frameworks, including the strengthening of scientific capacities. Australia has provided funding to the World Meteorological Organisation to carry out a Climate Monitoring and Impacts Study in the South Pacific region. The study considered the need for systematic observations for the monitoring of climate and the detection of climate change and has led to the Pacific Meteorological Services Project which is being implemented by the Bureau of Meteorology on behalf of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The Bureau of Meteorology also provides bilateral operational and training support to a number of national meteorological services in the Asia-Pacific region to assist with climate data collection and processing. Australia has also provided funding for an expert in climate change for the South Pacific Environment Program.
Australia has pledged to contribute A$42.76 million for Phase I (1994-97) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). A large amount of the GEF activities will be aimed at assisting developing countries protect the atmosphere. AusAID also provides funding for a range of bilateral projects which address climate change. These projects assist developing countries to identify climate change impacts, reduce greenhouse gas emissions or develop strategies to combat global warming. Projects under way support solar technology, demand side management, energy efficiency, sea level monitoring, reafforestation and firewood replacement, and clean coal technology.
Promoting cleaner energy is a particular focus of Australia's assistance in this sector. Given Australia's world-recognised expertise in the coal industry, Australia is in an excellent position to help developing countries improve the operation of their energy production operations where coal is used. However our objective is broader than increasing production or production efficiency. The use of out-of-date extraction processes for coal has created major environmental problems, including water and air pollution, localised acid rain and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Australia is providing expertise and modern technologies to help clean up these environmental problems.
For example, AusAID is providing assistance to India where heavy demand for energy is met primarily from its inefficient and very unclean coal sector. As part of the Government's Greenhouse 21C package, an additional $25 million has been allocated to the India program to be spent over four years in the energy sector which will aim to reduce pollutants.
A number of projects have been funded under the Development Import Finance Facility (DIFF) which improve energy efficiency. The China Henan Coal Gasification Project (A$29.9 million over two years) will provide gas to town residents in Henan province to replace coal burned in homes and to supplement supplies of liquid petroleum gas (LPG). In the Philippines, the Municipal Solar Infrastructure Project (A$10 million) aims to supply basic energy needs for fifteen remote towns using photovoltaic technology.
Australia is party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which regulates production and trade in ozone-depleting substances with the object of ultimately eliminating them. Australia is contributing $10 million over three years (1994-96) to the fund developed under the Montreal protocol for the transfer of ozone-friendly technology to developing countries. Up to twenty per cent of Australia's contribution can be in the form of bilateral technology transfer.
The primary domestic policy basis for initiatives addressing atmosphere issues is derived from the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD) and the National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS), both endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 1992. At the Commonwealth Government level, these strategies have been supplemented by the March 1995 statement, Greenhouse 21C - A Plan of Action for a Sustainable Future. Further information on the NSESD is included in the chapter of this report titled 'Background'. A number of States have also developed complementary initiatives such as the Queensland Government's Queensland Greenhouse Response Strategy.
National Greenhouse Response Strategy. The NGRS outlines measures to contribute towards effective global action to limit greenhouse gas emissions and enhance greenhouse gas sinks, improve knowledge and understanding of the enhanced greenhouse effect, and prepare for climate change impacts. It takes a comprehensive approach, addressing the reduction of all greenhouse gas emissions, conservation and enhancement of sinks, and adaptation responses. The NGRS is based on Australia's interim planning target: to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions (that is, those gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer) based on 1988 levels, by the year 2000 and to reduce these emissions by twenty per cent by the year 2005. This target is subject to Australia not implementing response measures that would have net adverse economic impacts nationally or on Australia s trade competitiveness, in the absence of similar action by major greenhouse producing countries.
The focus of first phase NGRS measures is on those with low costs and minimal disruption. They concentrate on 'no regrets' actions, that is those which have net benefits (or at least no net cost) in addition to addressing the enhanced greenhouse effect. Particular attention is given to the energy sector because of its large contribution to total emissions, the clearer understanding of the emissions mechanisms involved, the measurability of emissions and reduction measures, and the scope for taking no-regrets actions.
In endorsing the NGRS, COAG agreed that it must be subject to ongoing review and development and the strategy will under go its first major review in 1996. The review will provide a clear indication of the effectiveness of measures already under way. The NGRS contains mechanisms for monitoring and assessment of performance. There is scope to reassess objectives and programs in the light of new scientific information, international developments and the effectiveness of response actions. This includes the development, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Committee for Ecologically Sustainable Development, of performance indicators to assist the evaluation of the NGRS as a whole. It is anticipated that agreed performance indicators and the 1988 to 1994 National Greenhouse Gas Inventories will be released in the first half of 1996.
Greenhouse 21C. The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, released in September 1994, showed that in the absence of greenhouse response actions, emissions in 2000 would be fourteen per cent above 1990 levels. Projections in Australia's National Communication showed that measures in the NGRS will reduce this excess to seven per cent above 1990 levels.
The Commonwealth Government's Greenhouse 21C statement is an integrated package of additional greenhouse response measures, to move Australia closer to the achievement of its greenhouse gas emission abatement targets. The package includes measures encompassing:
A major theme in the package is that an effective greenhouse response will require action by all levels of government, industry and the community. While a more accurate assessment can be made as the measures are implemented, the Government estimates that Greenhouse 21C, in conjunction with the NGRS measures, will reduce the growth of Australia s emissions to about three per cent above 1990 levels by the year 2000.
Greenhouse 21C is a significant step forward in abating greenhouse gas emissions, placing Australia in a comparable position to the majority of Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
International Activities. Global warming is a global problem requiring a global solution. Australia is committed to international efforts to tackle climate change and has been an active participant in the development and implementation of the FCCC.
Energy plays a major role in the Australian economy. There are large reserves of fossil fuels and renewable energy and a sophisticated and efficient infrastructure for exploration and development of energy resources. Australia does not use nuclear power and lacks a suitable climate and sites for significant levels of hydroelectric production. The low cost of energy has been a major factor in the establishment of a number of energy-intensive export-oriented industries in Australia and large amounts of energy resources, chiefly coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG), are exported. Within Australia, energy supply and use is estimated to account for fifty-three per cent of all emissions of greenhouse gases and sixty-seven per cent of CO2 emissions. The CO2 emissions from the Australian energy sector are estimated to be about 1.4 per cent of total world CO2 emissions but were over twelve tonnes on a per capita basis in 1990.
The NGRS includes measures for structural reform of the gas and electricity sectors, promotion of greater use of co-generation and renewable energy options, and improved energy efficiency in the household, industrial, commercial and transport sectors.
The Government is producing a White Paper on sustainable energy, with special attention to options, costs and benefits of greenhouse gas abatement measures other than a carbon tax.
Other key relevant initiatives in Greenhouse 21C include:
Other Programs. At the national level, emphasis is being given to improving data on the efficiency of energy end-use and to the development of systems to monitor the impact of a range of programs. This improved information will help identify the real effect over time of energy efficiency initiatives.
Funding of $65 million over five years has been provided to commercialise the low cost, high efficiency, thin film solar cell technology developed by the University of New South Wales. It should be possible to reach the performance levels needed for commercial mass production by the end of that period.
In May 1995 a low interest, revolving credit facility (the Energy Card) was established to assist consumers meet the relatively high capital costs of solar water heaters, with the savings over time on energy bills offsetting the total cost.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Black Coal Utilisation was established on 1 July 1995 to carry out world class research to help maximise the efficiency of use and hence environmental performance of Australian black coal resources in the new technologies under development for power generation and the metallurgical industries.
The Victorian Government has secured $100 million of private sector funds for a joint research laboratory, to build a commercial coal gasification and drying plant in the Latrobe Valley. This technology has the potential to reduce the total cost of a brown coal power station by twenty-five per cent and to reduce CO2 output by up to thirty per cent.
New South Wales has announced the establishment of a Sustainable Energy Fund which aims to use the principles for ecologically sustainable development to improve energy efficiency and promote more environmentally benign fuels, co-generation of energy, and renewable energy technologies.
A $35 million package of initiatives has recently been announced by the Queensland Government to promote a more ecologically sustainable energy sector. The initiatives target the efficient use and supply of electricity as well as the development of alternative, environmentally responsible energy resources. As part of the package, a new Office of Energy Management has been established to take overall responsibility for the management and coordination of the Government's energy efficiency and alternative energy activities.
Recent measures to increase the efficiency of energy usage at the household level include:
Energy Supply and Demand. In 1993-94 total primary energy supply to the domestic market in Australia was 93.77 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe). Black and brown coal accounts for forty per cent of energy supply, and fifty-three per cent of CO2 emissions, and is used almost entirely in electricity generation. Oil currently provides thirty-six per cent of total primary energy supply, representing thirty-four per cent of CO2 emissions, mostly for use in transport. The consumption of natural gas accounted for almost seventeen per cent of total primary energy supply in 1993-94, up from less than eight per cent in 1973-74, and is expected to reach twenty-two per cent by 2010. Renewable sources accounted for 6.2 per cent of total primary energy supply, mostly from wood and sugar cane waste. Hydroelectric power contributed twenty-four per cent, and solar power, 0.9 per cent of all renewable sources.
Australian energy consumption is projected to grow by an average of 1.7 per cent a year to 2009-10 to reach 122.92 Mtoe.
The transport sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. The Commonwealth Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics estimates that transport produces twelve per cent of Australia's overall net greenhouse gas output, but a proportionately greater sixteen per cent of CO2 production. In Australia, about sixty per cent of total transport greenhouse emissions, occur in urban areas. Cars are the dominant producers of CO2, accounting for sixty-nine per cent of emissions. Of total road freight, around sixty per cent of tonnage carried moves solely within urban areas.
The transport sector is also a significant source of oxides of nitrogen (seventy-five per cent), anthropogenic volatile organic compounds (forty-five per cent), carbon monoxide, particulate matter and lead, and emits methane and small amounts of toxic substances such as benzene. Although new vehicles have used only unleaded fuel since 1986, there are still substantial numbers of pre-1986 vehicles in the national fleet using leaded fuel.
Both the NSESD and the NGRS have substantial transport components. A major review of NSESD is under way and a similar review of the NGRS will commence in 1996. Further quantification of the transport sector's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions will be available with the 1996 publication of the State by State National Greenhouse Inventory for the years 1988 and 1990. While a substantial reduction in emissions from 'business as usual' is expected (projected at three million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 1999-2000), a number of factors, such as economic growth, are expected to result in increased transport demand, and total emissions from transport are forecast to continue to rise.
In addition to the two national strategies, the Commonwealth Government's Greenhouse 21C action plan includes a number of measures in the transport sector:
A number of States have developed area based planning strategies that aim to address the integration of transport and land use planning. Australian Governments consider that these strategies can contain the need for private vehicle travel by increasing residential density around public transport routes, integrating employment, recreation and residential land uses, and improving public transport alternatives. To ensure Commonwealth Government expenditure in urban infrastructure is effective, the Commonwealth is developing an integrated strategy for infrastructure and urban development that will be underpinned by a proposed legislative framework. As part of its urban development funding, the Commonwealth has contributed almost $33 million for bicycle paths and bicycle demonstration projects in capital cities and provincial centres. Environmental impact assessments for infrastructure projects in the transport sector are mandatory under various Commonwealth and State legislation.
Mass transit systems exist in the larger Australian cities, although many are characterised by a radial network that reflects historical population and employment distributions, rather than contemporary growth patterns. Substantial investments are being made in urban rail in Sydney, in part, as a response to the Commonwealth's development of the Sydney West Airport. In Melbourne, revision of timetables and improvements to rolling stock and stations on the short Sandringham line resulted in substantial improvements in patronage. This is regarded as a potential model for the Greenhouse 21C public transport pilot program.
The 1996 review of fuel efficiency targets will be undertaken in conjunction with a review of the structure of the Australian motor vehicle industry. Further involvement of manufacturers is being pursued by the Department of Industry, Science and Technology, which is developing and implementing the Commonwealth's Light Metals Industry Development Strategy. This is aimed at facilitating weight reductions in motor vehicles, and hence increased fuel efficiency and reduced vehicle emissions. Greater involvement of the Australian diecasting, automotive and auto components industries in the design and manufacture of optimised components with reduced weight and cost is being encouraged.
The Commonwealth Government provides a 150 per cent tax deduction for research and development expenditure. One of the significant successes under this supportive regime has been Orbital Technologies Pty Ltd, which has developed an innovative set of fuel injection technologies with significant emissions and energy reduction potential. These technologies are under active consideration by a number of the major international automotive and small engine manufacturers. The Commonwealth is planning a trial of vehicles using orbital technology in 1996.
The Commonwealth extends excise exemptions to alternative transport fuels. In addition, there are a number of specific initiatives to encourage the use of fuel ethanol, including a production bounty and support for research, development and deployment. The Commonwealth Government is currently developing a longer term strategy to encourage the development of new and renewable transport fuels under the Greenhouse 21C package. A number of States and Territories have undertaken trials of alternative fuels in route buses.
The Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy has published a booklet providing comparative information on the fuel consumption of new cars and a range of four wheel drive and light commercial vehicles annually since 1980. To assist in encouraging the community to make greater use of less polluting transport systems, the Commonwealth EPA has funded a smog busters program to raise community awareness of pollution from motor vehicles and promote increased use of public transport. States and Territories undertake a variety of transport emission and fuel efficiency awareness campaigns. The Commonwealth commitments to introduce fuel efficiency labelling and advertising standards in Greenhouse 21C will raise public awareness further.
Standards for new motor vehicle emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen are set in Australian design rules (ADRs), administered by the Federal Office of Road Safety (FORS). A comprehensive review of the emission ADRs for light duty petrol engined vehicles is currently being undertaken by the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Emissions and Noise, and a similar review is underway for diesel standards. The Commonwealth Government, in cooperation with the States and Territories, is developing an environmental standard for fuel which will introduce environmental considerations into the production, handling and use of transport fuels. In New South Wales, consideration is being given to the development of standards for alternative fuels such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG) and ethanol blends.
The Commonwealth Government is phasing out the operation of high emission 'Chapter 2' passenger aircraft, in line with international standards. The recently formed National Environment Protection Council is expected to establish National Environment Protection Measures for, amongst other things, ambient air quality and motor vehicle emissions.
FORS is undertaking a major study into the emissions from the current Australian car fleet, and is scheduled to publish a report of the findings in late March 1996. The study aims to measure the deterioration of emissions systems over the life of vehicles, assess the benefits of good maintenance and tuning practices, and identify and validate potential low cost emission tests.
FORS is also developing, in conjunction with a number of States, pilot inspection and maintenance programs to trial the effectiveness of low cost testing in practice. Complementary studies into emissions (including fine particulate matter) from diesel engines and LPG vehicles are also being coordinated by FORS. A number of Australian states currently selectively monitor transport emissions. Much of this effort, however, is directed towards compliance rather than data gathering (for example, the New South Wales EPA monitors diesel vehicles for visible exhaust smoke emissions).
Through the Commonwealth EPA air quality applied research program, an examination is under way on the interactive effect that fuel, vehicle emissions and vehicle design have on air quality. Projects include those coordinated by FORS cited above, and:
A joint 1994 study by the Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics (BTCE) and the Victorian EPA examined a range of strategies for reducing transport emissions. It reproduced earlier Australian estimates that the external costs of noxious emissions from transport in Australia amount to 0.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The BTCE will complete by mid-1996 a comprehensive study of the marginal costs of reducing greenhouse gases emitted from the Australian transport sector. Cost functions will cover a range of emission reductions for each of the years 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015. Instruments costed range from congestion pricing in cities to afforestation and a carbon tax to improvements in public transport. Detailed base case projections of vehicle emissions to 2015 were published in March 1995 in BTCE Report 88.
Greenhouse Challenge. The Greenhouse Challenge, a major element of Greenhouse 21C, is about encouraging the development of cooperative agreements between the Commonwealth and industry to work together to abate greenhouse gas emission. Consultations with industry have shown a considerable commitment by business groups to take on greenhouse responsibilities more directly. In particular, industry identified a willingness and ability to achieve significant greenhouse reductions on a cooperative basis without the need for further regulatory or fiscal measures.
The Commonwealth committed $9.7 million over four years to facilitate the development and implementation of cooperative agreements. This initiative will contribute significantly towards Australia continuing to meet its international obligations under the FCCC. The Government has estimated that the program could achieve in the order of fifteen million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent reduction by the year 2000.
The objective of cooperative agreements is to ensure participants seek continuous improvements in areas such as energy and process efficiency, sink enhancement and effective use of resources. The program aims to achieve maximum practicable greenhouse performance leading to emissions abatement and cost savings for industry. It is not intended to compromise the business objectives of development and growth and participants may withdraw from the program at any stage without penalty. Industry groups have emphasised their commitment to credible, verifiable and transparent actions. Measures adopted to abate greenhouse emissions could lead to cost savings through improvements in energy and process efficiencies, technological advances, export industry development, an improved long term cost structure, and more secure employment. More than fifty major companies and industry associations have committed themselves to develop action plans to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.
Consultations have also been undertaken with State Governments to explore States' capacity to promote and contribute to the program. The Greenhouse Challenge Office will be working with State, Territory and Local Governments to remove impediments to greenhouse gas abatement measures, secure the participation of government business enterprises and, more generally, avoid duplication in the development and implementation of greenhouse gas abatement policies and measures.
Such initiatives already in place include the Energy Smart Companies Campaign, a corporate commitment program to achieve energy efficiency, developed by Energy Victoria. The Campaign targets top level management to improve energy use within their organisation. Already the program has attracted fifty major Victorian businesses and corporations to commit to substantial and long term employment.
Cleaner Production. Cleaner production is promoted to Australian industry through the Commonwealth EPA's Cleaner Production Program which was established under the Prime Minister's 1992 Environment Statement. The aim of the program is to encourage industry to improve its environmental and economic performance by reducing the use of raw materials and eliminating or reducing waste through changes in processes and products.
The program works by providing information to industry in the form of demonstration projects, a national cleaner production database, national seminars, facts sheets, video, and speaking appearances. To achieve the best possible distribution of this information, the Commonwealth EPA works with a variety of organisations such as industry organisations, trade unions and government at all levels.
The National Cleaner Production Database (NCPD) is a component of the National Environment Industries Database which has been developed by the Commonwealth EPA to give industry easy access to case study information on cleaner production measures used in a wide variety of industries. The database allows small to medium sized businesses to look at their production costs, save resources, reduce waste and maintain a competitive edge. It also serves as an information source for local councils, industry associations and research centres. The NCPD has gained recognition in cleaner production circles abroad and can be accessed via the internet at: 'http:\\kaos.erin.gov.au\human_env\industry\acpd2.html'.
Under Australian constitutional arrangements, responsibility for natural resource planning and management rests primarily with the State and Territory Governments. Local Government also plays a key role as it has responsibility for many of the planning and management decisions at the local level. In addition to the NSESD, there are a number of national strategies which provide the vision and set the broad framework for combating degradation of our resource base, and moving to ecologically sustainable resource management. These include:
Specific issues relevant to the impact of land use and resource policies on the atmosphere, and the impact of climate change on the conservation and sustainable use of environmental resources include land clearing, urban form, and coastal zone management.
Land Clearing. The first National Greenhouse Gas Inventory identified that agricultural land and forest clearing and on-site burning could be contributing as much as a quarter of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions. However, these estimates are very uncertain, largely due to the difficulties of obtaining information on the rates of clearing and the type of vegetation cleared.
Both the Commonwealth Government and State Governments have responded to the findings of the inventory, and taken steps to better assess the extent of greenhouse gas emissions from land use. The Commonwealth provided $3.5 million to establish a joint Commonwealth-State program to monitor clearing, and where possible tree planting, aimed particularly at the more intensively used agricultural areas of Australia.
In addition to the national strategies, State and Territory Governments are working to manage land clearance processes through appropriate mechanisms. In some States comprehensive controls on land clearance are in place. These have been introduced for protection of soil and water resources, for biodiversity conservation, for the protection of Aboriginal heritage and for aesthetic reasons. An additional benefit of controls over land clearance is retention of sinks for greenhouse gases. In Victoria clearing has fallen by approximately eighty-five per cent as a result of a state-wide amendment to all local council planning schemes, protecting remnant native vegetation on private land. New South Wales has moved to limit further land clearing through the introduction of a specific planning policy in August 1995.
The Queensland Government is spending $7.7 million on a satellite imagery project over the next three years to monitor current and recent vegetation and land use changes in the State. Indications are that as a result of a reduction in frequency of the occurrence of fire, due to the management practices adopted on grazing lands, Australia's tropical and subtropical woodlands may (through regrowth and increased thickening) now be providing a substantial sink for carbon storage. The satellite imagery project will provide data on this for Queensland and an indication of likely trends in other similar ecosystems.
The Commonwealth Government committed a further $7.5 million to the One Billion Trees Program, recognising the substantial contribution already made by the program to enhancing sinks. Over the period 1992-94, the One Billion Trees and Save the Bush Programs have planted over 700 000 trees. The expansion measure will make a significant contribution to a National Corridors of Green Program, which will strategically enlarge and connect remaining patches of native vegetation and link these with new plantings. In 1995, the River Murray Corridor of Green program has directly seeded some 1200 hectares, planted seedlings over some 1300 hectares and attracted volunteer effort totalling 63 000 hours. Approximately $1 million will also be available for urban forests which will enhance the amenity of a number of major Australian urban centres, create sinks for greenhouse gases and provide reductions in water run off and noise, maintain wildlife corridors, and enhance water quality.
The Commonwealth Government's Wood and Paper Industry Strategy, released in December 1995, also contains a number of initiatives to encourage the rate at which new plantations and farm forestry are established. Expansion of plantations, particularly farm forestry, can provide substantial environmental (including sink enhancement), landcare and agricultural productivity benefits to landholders and the broader community. The strategy attempts to address a number of challenges in achieving these benefits, including the removal of impediments to investment (such as export controls), promotion of plantation development on cleared agricultural land, establishing farm forestry as an integral part of the commercial plantation estate, improving research and development, promoting public access to information, and integrating commercial tree growing with other environmental and agriculture initiatives.
Urban Form. About half of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia arise in urban areas from energy use, transport and waste management activities. The NGRS commits Australian government planning agencies to integrating land use and transport planning with an emphasis on urban development that minimises the need for fossil fuel based transport. The integration of transport and land use planning is being pursued by governments across Australia.
The Better Cities program was initiated by the Commonwealth in 1992 in partnership with State, Territory and Local Governments to explore new approaches to urban management including urban fringe and coastal development. The Better Cities program has now completed its fourth year of operation with a new phase having commenced in 1995-96, complementing environmental and transport reforms aimed at greenhouse gas reduction and other pollution reduction measures.
The Urban Villages Project is a joint Commonwealth, Victorian and Local Government initiative established to demonstrate ways to reshape our cities to use less energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create more liveable places. The project has evolved from the Victorian Government's Greenhouse Neighbourhood Project, which analysed scenarios for suburban development at 'greenfields' sites on the fringe of metropolitan Melbourne. Based on the projected savings identified in that report, eight case studies were conducted to assess the potential of established urban sites to convert over time into urban villages. A project report is due in early 1996.
The Australian Model Code for Residential Development (AMCORD) aims to achieve flexible national performance based residential codes for use by State, Territory and Local Governments and industry to achieve more efficient residential development, greater housing choice and better designed and more environmentally sensitive development. The first version of AMCORD was released in 1989, with a final consolidated version of AMCORD available in late 1995.
In Victoria, the Good Design Guide for Medium Density Housing specifically sets energy efficiency requirements to reduce fossil fuel consumption, reduce winter heat loss and make use of solar energy. There are also a number of partnerships between municipal councils and the State Government to facilitate inner-city and commercial business district (CBD) housing. Victoria's Capital City Policy specifically targets residential development in inner Melbourne and construction is occurring at some forty sites.
Coastal Zone Management. Most Australians live in cities near the coast. The Commonwealth Government is implementing the Commonwealth Coastal Policy, which is a blueprint to change the way coastal areas are managed and used. Its goal is ecologically sustainable use of the coastal zone. The Government has also announced a comprehensive package of measures to improve the management of Australian coastal areas, including establishment of the Coastcare Program (a community participation program) and the Coastal Strategic Planning Program. This is designed to encourage the development of best practice regional and integrated coastal management strategies. These initiatives are in addition to the wide range of existing coastal planning instruments implemented by the State Governments. (Further details on coastal policy are provided in this report under the chapter of this report titled 'Oceans').
At the national level, the Commonwealth EPA is responsible for the Commonwealth Ozone Protection Program.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has been amended twice, in London in 1990 and in Copenhagen in 1992. The original 1987 Montreal protocol set limits on controlled substances but did not require their total elimination by any specific date. The first review of the protocol in London in June 1990 established tighter controls on CFCs and halons, and also added to the list of controlled substances methyl chloroform, carbon tetrachloride and CFCs 13, 111, 112 and 211 to 217.
The second review of the protocol in Copenhagen in 1992 brought forward the agreed phase-out date of all CFCs from 2000 to 1996 and added hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), methyl bromide and hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs) to the list of controlled substances. The changes followed reports from the Scientific Assessment Panel and the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel, which operates under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to advise the Montreal Protocol.
Australia has committed itself to meet or exceed the requirements of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. In particular, Australia phased out its consumption of CFCs, methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride by 31 December 1995 in accordance with the Copenhagen amendments of the protocol. The success of the Australian program has been founded on broad-based government and industry cooperation as expounded in the 1994 Revised Strategy for Ozone Protection in Australia.
Australia maintained a high profile in international ozone protection activities in 1994-95. Within Australia, the development and implementation of national policies and programs for the phase-out of ozone depleting substances continued. The complexity of issues increased with the approach of final phase-out dates for CFCs, the most common ozone depleting substances and with preparations for new substances to become subject to internationally agreed phase-out measures, including:
Australia currently chairs the executive committee which manages the Montreal Protocol's Multilateral Fund, which finances the transfer of ozone friendly technology to developing countries. In 1994-95, Australia was represented at four meetings of that committee and was a key participant in all of its subcommittees.
The substantial progress made by Australian industry in adopting ozone benign technology has given rise to expertise which is of significant value to developing countries in the region in the early or planning stages of their phase-out programs. The Commonwealth EPA has been active in identifying bilateral opportunities whereby Australian technology and expertise can be used to directly assist the phase-out of ozone depleting chemicals in developing countries. Assistance has been provided to the Indonesian Government in an examination of the range of regulatory and legislative measures that could be implemented as part of its phase out program.
Australia is in a strong position to pass on its policy and technological experience and expertise to countries that are commencing the process of managing their use of ozone depleting substances. In 1995 Australia provided funding of US$2 633 990 to the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal protocol. This included US$140 175 which was used to directly fund bilateral projects to assist several countries. These were:
Australia also contributes to the monitoring of the ozone layer as part of the Global Ozone Observing System with Bureau of Meteorology stations currently operating in Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane and Macquarie Island.
In line with Australia's obligations under the Montreal protocol, and arising from decisions taken by the Parties to the Protocol in 1992, quotas for CFC import and production for the period July 1994 to December 1995 were issued in June 1994 at only twenty per cent of Australia's 1986 consumption. CFC consumption for the twelve months to the end of April 1995 had fallen to twenty per cent of 1986 figures, indicating that the national phase-out program is on track. Import and production of CFCs ceased on 31 December 1995, with exceptions only for essential uses such as metered dose inhalers used in the treatment of asthma.
Policy development work on Commonwealth regulatory strategies to meet Australia's forthcoming international obligations to phase-out HCFCs and methyl bromide has now been finalised. A discussion paper was released early in 1994-95, and public comments were incorporated into the final policy paper. This policy paper was endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) at their meeting in April 1995 and formed the basis of amendments to the Ozone Protection Act.
The cessation of the Australian manufacture, import and export of CFCs, methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride at the end of 1995 has required substantial modification of the existing Act to reflect these changes and introduce new controls on the manufacture and import of hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Consequently, the Ozone Protection Amendment Bill 1995 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 21 June 1995 and has since been passed by both Houses of Parliament. The legislation came into effect on 2 November 1995.
The amendments to the Ozone Protection Act 1989 bring control of all ozone depleting substances together by incorporating the regulations under the Act, establish a phase out mechanism for HCFCs, restrict the quantity of methyl bromide imported into Australia and restrict imports of HBFCs.
In keeping with Australia's international commitment to control production and consumption of methyl bromide, the Commonwealth EPA has arranged and hosted three consultative meetings with methyl bromide importers and major users to:
The Commonwealth EPA is initiating case studies into relevant industries abroad which have successfully phased out the use of methyl bromide. This process will provide useful information concerning possible strategies and alternatives which Australian industries may adopt to limit their use of methyl bromide.
Australia is not a significant contributor to international air pollution in terms of traditional substances such as SO2 and NOx. While these pollutants can travel long distances, the relative isolation of Australia limits the contribution. The possible exception may be smoke from grass and natural fires which may reach South-East Asia. Australia's contribution to transboundary air pollution of metals such as lead and cadmium also appears to be minimal.
In terms of early warning systems, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been designated as one of four World Meteorological Organisation Environment Emergency Response Centres with the responsibility for providing advice on the likely trajectories of pollutants which may have a regional impact.
An emerging issue in relation to transboundary air pollution concerns semi-volatile persistent organic pollutants. Australia's contribution to this phenomenon is unclear. Contamination levels appear to be lower in the Southern compared with the Northern Hemisphere, and interhemispheric mixing is suspected to be slow. Further research to examine this issue is being commissioned.