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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

5 May 2000

GREENHOUSE TRIGGER DESIGN RELEASED


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today released a model for a greenhouse trigger which could be applied under the Commonwealth's new Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

"The Prime Minister indicated last year that upon passage of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act the Government would commence a process of consultation with the states and other stakeholders on the issue of applying a greenhouse trigger in relation to new projects that would be major emitters of greenhouse gasses.

"A consultation paper was released in December last year and after reviewing submissions we're now releasing a technical design for the greenhouse trigger as a basis for the consultation with the states.

"Under the proposed model, the trigger would apply to actions or developments likely to result in greenhouse gas emissions over 0.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in any 12 month period.

"This proposed emission threshold is equivalent to approximately 10 percent of the average annual increase in Australia's total greenhouse emissions and can therefore be fairly considered to be of national environmental significance. As such, projects emitting greenhouse gasses above this level would trigger the requirement for Commonwealth assessment and approval.

"Diffuse emissions arising from a large number of small and dispersed sources are not intended to be subject to the greenhouse trigger. These emissions are more effectively addressed through our range of other tailored polices and measures. "

Senator Hill said the Government would continue close consultation with State and Territory governments in relation to the greenhouse trigger.

May 5, 2000
Media contact: Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364




PROPOSED TECHNICAL DESIGN FOR A GREENHOUSE TRIGGER
UNDER THE
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION ACT 1999

The greenhouse trigger under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 could apply to proposed actions that have resulted, will result or are likely to result in greenhouse gas emissions of over a 0.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt) in any 12 month period. The matter protected by the greenhouse trigger would be ‘climate’.

Consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the National Greenhouse Strategy, it is proposed that 'greenhouse gases' would be defined to include carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol. Emissions from proposed projects would be estimated using accepted methodologies used for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, those being developed for the National Carbon Accounting System, or where necessary those agreed between the Commonwealth and the proponent.

Administrative guidance on the trigger would be developed, including technical guidance for estimating emissions from proposed actions and an illustrative list of potential controlled actions.

The proposed emission threshold of 0.5 Mt is equivalent to approximately 10% of the average annual increase in Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 1997 (an increase from 389 Mt to 431 Mt over 8 years, or an average of 5.25 Mt per annum). Actions that result in emissions over this threshold are considered to be of national environmental significance.

Diffuse emissions arising from a large number of small and dispersed sources are not intended to be subject to the greenhouse trigger. These emissions are more effectively and directly addressed through tailored policies and measures.

All direct emissions (those that are within the boundary of an action) would be considered in determining whether an action is a controlled action. Major sources of indirect emissions would be considered where these emissions are one step upstream from the action, ie directly attributable to activities that are outside the boundary of the action and provide inputs for that action. Emissions from activities that use the outputs of the action (downstream emissions) will not normally be considered in the triggering process. However, during the assessment and approval processes, the option of examining all emissions from upstream or downstream processes at least one step removed from the action will be retained, to allow consideration of any net change in Australia’s emissions that may flow from an action.

4 May 2000

Commonwealth of Australia