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Government rules out appealing court order that EPA act on climate change

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean has announced the NSW EPA will not appeal this month’s landmark Land and Environment Court decision requiring the authority to act on climate change. [1] 

“The Minister and the EPA Board have clearly made the right call,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“We look forward to working with the EPA in developing a series of credible policies that meet the awesome challenge of climate action.” 

On September 10, the court ordered the EPA to “develop environmental quality objectives, guidelines and policies to ensure environment protection from climate change”. [2] 

The ruling was the result of a case brought by the Environmental Defenders Office on behalf of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action.  

The court found the EPA had failed in its legal duty to ensure the protection of the environment from climate change. 

References  

[1] ABC Radio National Breakfast, 10-9-21 

Hamish McDonald: Late last month your state’s environmental regulator, the EPA, was order by the court to take action on climate change and ordered the authority to develop plans and policies to protect the environment from climate change. It’s been seen as a landmark ruling. Will you appeal that decision? 

Matt Kean: No, we won’t be appealing that decision. The Board and myself decided that we certainly will not be appeal and in fact will be putting in place the policies that are needed to give effect to the court ruling. So, we’re announcing that here this morning. We will not be appealing that decision and will in fact be doing everything necessary to give it full effect.  

McDonald: Late last month your state’s environmental regulator, the EPA, was order by the court to take action on climate change and ordered the authority to develop plans and policies to protect the environment from climate change. It’s been seen as a landmark ruling. Will you appeal that decision? 

Kean: No, we won’t be appealing that decision. The Board and myself decided that were certainly will not be appeal and in fact will be putting in place the policies that are needed to give effect to the court ruling. So, we’re announcing that here this morning: we will not be appealing that decision and will in fact be doing everything necessary to give it full effect.  

McDonaldWhat are the implications for that? Why is this significant?   

KeanWell, it is significant because we want to use all our agencies, all the levers within government, to set the quality objectives, guidelines and policies to ensure we protect the environment from climate change, as we should be doing. 

And as I have said to you Hamish, this is not just about ensuring we can avoid the severe impacts of climate change we’ve seen only too well in NSW the worst bushfires in living memory. 

But we also want to grab the enormous economic opportunities that come with taking action. 

McDonald: But does this sort of bake in some of the political objectives you’re trying to achieve as far as climate, I mean clearly you are at odd with some of your federal colleagues here. 

Kean: Well, what we are trying to do here in NSW is to not only mitigate the risk of climate change but also advantage of the enormous economic opportunities that a presenting themselves for Australia. 

I think we will see a jobs and investment boom like never before not only as we decarbonise but also as we help the rest of the world meet their objectives.  

This decision today about not appealing the court case and ensuring the government is absolutely leaning into this opportunity is about coordinating our response and making sure we are in the best position possible to grabs those opportunities that are emerging. 

[2] Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action Incorporated v Environment Protection Authority [2021] NSWLEC 92, 26 August 2021. 

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