Media Releases | 4th Dec, 2017

Environmental watchdog snoozing on climate change, despite $162 million boost

Despite undergoing a $162 million reform process, the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is failing to tackle the biggest environmental challenge of our time – climate change.

A new report by independent charity Environment Victoria, Licence to Pollute, reveals why and how the EPA needs to start putting limits on climate pollution.

“While the EPA currently fines Victorians for dumping litter, it lets large companies dump millions of tonnes of climate pollution into the atmosphere and get off scot-free,” said Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle. Click To Tweet

Until this critical reform is addressed, Victoria’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases will continue to pollute the climate without consequences, Victoria will fail to meet more ambitious future emissions targets, and the EPA reforms will remain half-finished.

Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle said today:

“It is staggering that Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority is doing almost nothing to protect Victoria from the biggest environmental threat we face.

“For the most part the EPA does a great job, but when it comes to the twenty-first century threat of climate change they are asleep at the wheel.

“The EPA monitors pollution to our air, land and water, but they are allowing climate polluters to dump unlimited amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

“Victoria is spending $162.5 million reforming and modernising the EPA. These reforms are much needed and very welcome, but climate change remains a massive blind spot for our environmental watchdog. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, this needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.

“While Victoria has a target to reach zero net emissions by 2050 and we are beginning to make good progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency, we currently lack a clear policy mechanism to ensure we achieve our pollution reduction goals. Strong regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA is an essential next step for climate policy in Victoria.”

The key findings of the new report, Licence to Pollute: why climate pollution is the unfinished business of reforms to the Environment Protection Authority, include:

  • The EPA has had the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for many years through the State Environment Protection Polices, and this power has been clarified in Victoria’s new Climate Change Act (2017), but the EPA has not been using these powers to reduce climate pollution.
  • Independent reviews of both the EPA and the Climate Change Act identified the need for the EPA to play a more active role in addressing climate change.
  • Victoria’s ten biggest greenhouse gas emitters are responsible for around 60 million tonnes of climate pollution and currently face no restrictions or penalties for this damage.
  • The EPA could regulate climate pollution through annual limits or emission intensity standards, which could be tightened over time and managed through the EPA’s licencing and works approval systems.
  • Big emitters could reduce their climate pollution by improving on-site efficiency and replacing on-site power generation with renewable energy, curtailing output at times of low demand, or through establishing a trading scheme.

Dr Aberle continued:

“The EPA is currently reviewing the licence conditions of Victoria’s coal-burning power stations. This is the perfect opportunity for the EPA to exercise its regulatory power to curb climate pollution from our state’s biggest three climate polluters. A major overhaul is also needed for conditions limiting emissions of toxic air pollution such as PM2.5, PM10 and mercury.

“In the last month over 3000 people have written to the EPA calling on them to crack down on climate pollution. The EPA have the power and the expertise to regulate greenhouse gas pollution – it’s time to get on with it.”

Download the report (PDF) >>
Visit the report webpage >>

For interview and further comment:


Dr Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager
Office: (03) 9341 8112 Mobile: 0402 512 121

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