WWF-Australia welcomed the appointment of Mark Butler MP as Australia’s new Minister for Climate Change and Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water.
The conservation organisation nominated a redoubling of efforts to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is not listed as “World Heritage in Danger” and stronger pollution reduction targets to tackle climate change as the two top priorities for the incoming Minister.
CEO Dermot O’Gorman said one of the first decisions the new Minister would have to make is whether to allow the dredging and dumping of three million tonnes of seabed into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area off Abbot Point in North Queensland.
“The Great Barrier Reef is at a crossroads, and the world is watching us,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“The Australian and Queensland governments have been given a firm deadline for action to avoid the global icon being placed on an international list of shame next year.
“Allowing millions of tonnes of dredge spoil to be dumped in the World Heritage Area would do unspeakable damage to the Reef, and we urge the Minister to fully consider all options before making his decision.”
Mr O’Gorman said Minister Butler should prosecute the case for Australia’s 2020 emission reduction target to be increased to at least 25% off 1990 levels.
“One year to the day since it was introduced, Australia’s carbon price has already seen carbon pollution fall by 7.1% and renewable energy increase by 30%, all while jobs and the economy continue to grow,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“The economic costs of a 25% target are four times lower now than estimated back in 2009 when the Government and Opposition first reached the still current bipartisan agreement on an unconditional cut to emissions of 5%.
“We look forward to working with Minister Butler to identify ways to strengthen Australia’s efforts to tackle climate change that provide wins not only for the environment, but also for a clean competitive economy.”
Mr O’Gorman also recognised the achievements of former Environment Minister Tony Burke, and former Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.
“Minister Burke’s efforts in creating the world’s biggest network of marine protected areas showed the world that Australia is a global leader in marine conservation,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“Greg Combet’s implementation of a price on carbon pollution that invests in renewable energy, business efficiency and biodiversity, was a critically important step in Australia’s efforts to combat climate change. We wish Mr Combet all the best in his future life outside the Parliament.”
Press Release, July 5, 2013