Any notion that climate change is an issue that could be dealt with effectively in some distant future has been shown to be untenable given events of the past few years. Extreme weather events, severe droughts and longer and more catastrophic bushfire seasons have shown more people that there is a connection between these events and the growing carbon emissions in the earth’s atmosphere.
Australians concerned about climate change are becoming increasingly frustrated with the ostrich-like attitudes of many of their politicians and government agencies.
One group which is taking legal action in an attempt to force a NSW government agency to do more on climate change is Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action which is taking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to court because of its failure to better protect communities.
Jo Dodds, president of the group, says that all its members have experienced a bushfire at first hand. They believe that climate change is a major contributing factor to the cause and growing intensity of bushfires in Australia.
She said that the issue isn’t being taken seriously enough and “There’s a sense that the bushfires are over and we can get back to normal life after COVID-19 – but the fires are going to come harder and more frequently.”
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is representing the group.
David Morris, the EDO chief executive, said the EPA had “a statutory mandate to protect the environment … but the EPA don’t have a current policy to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
“Those two things can’t co-exist.
“We’re simply asking the court to tell the EPA go and create environmental quality objectives with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, regulate the pollution and use their existing powers to do so.”
According to the EDO the EPA is in a unique position. As an agency “with teeth”, it has the power to issue licences to control pollution, as well as putting caps and prices on substances which are harmful to the environment.
The case is listed in the NSW Land and Environment Court in Sydney on May 8.
- Leonie Blain
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on April 27, 2020