State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management)
As with other air quality management requirements, the State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management) requires that generators of greenhouse gas emissions:
- avoid and minimise emissions in accordance with the principles of the waste hierarchy
- pursue continuous improvement
- apply best practice to the management of their emissions.
Detailed requirements are outlined under the Protocol for environmental management (Greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency in industry (publication 824) and include:
- best practice for greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption
- ongoing reporting of energy consumption, direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and energy and greenhouse gas reduction actions. Such reporting is required of all licensees who submitted an action plan to EPA as part of the Industry Greenhouse Program
- regular review of opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. New practices and technologies emerge over time and it is important that further opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions are identified as they arise. This will ensure maximum financial return and energy reduction opportunities.
Climate Change Act 2017
The Climate Change Act 2017 (CC Act) came into effect on 1 November 2017.
The CC Act:
- establishes a long-term emissions reduction target of net zero by 2050
- requires five yearly interim targets, to keep Victoria on track to meet the long-term target
- introduces a new set of policy objectives and an updated set of guiding principles to embed climate change in government decision making
- requires the Government to develop a climate change strategy every five years, which will set out how Victoria will meet its targets and adapt to the impacts of climate change (from 2020)
- requires Adaption Action Plans for key systems that are either vulnerable to the impacts of climate change or essential to ensure Victoria is prepared (from 2021)
- establishes a pledging model to reduce emissions from the Government's own operations and from across the economy (from 2020)
- establishes a system of periodic reporting to provide transparency, accountability and ensure the community remains informed.
Under the requirements of section 17 of the CC Act, EPA must consider climate change in works approval and licensing decisions, as well as when recommending new or amended state environment protection policies and waste management policies.
The duty does not alter EPA’s existing powers and obligations as set out in the Environment Protection Act 1970. Rather, it requires the consideration of additional matters when making the decisions identified in Schedule 1 of the CC Act.
Relevant requirements for works approval and licence applicants
When making decisions relating to works approvals and licences (identified in Schedule 1 of the CC Act), EPA must consider climate change in the following three ways in accordance with the requirements of section 17(2) of the CC Act, and subsequently sections 17(3), 17(4) and 18. These requirements are described further in our interim guidance on the consideration of climate change within the works approval process, which includes links to the relevant climate change projections for Victoria and information that applicants need to provide within their works approval applications.
Potential impacts of climate change
EPA’s existing Works approval guidelines (publication 1658) already require that risks relating to the management of the environmental impacts of a proposal be identified, prioritised and managed. EPA is updating the guidelines to outline what applicants should consider when determining whether climate change impacts significantly affect the environmental risk posed, and has issued some interim guidance on the consideration of climate change within the works approval process.
Potential contribution the application will have to greenhouse gas emissions
Works approval applicants and licensees are already required to demonstrate best practice and continuous improvement in energy and greenhouse gas management as required by the State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management) (the ‘SEPP (AQM)’). These requirements remain unchanged, although applicants may wish to refer to the updated Works approval guidelines (publication 1658), which now provides additional information on identification and estimation of greenhouse gases.
Any guidelines issued by the Minister under section 18 of the Climate Change Act 2017
The CC Act allows the Minister to issue guidelines for a person making a decision or taking an action, (that is the EPA decision-maker) to the scope and application of the factors that the person is required to consider when making a decision or taking that action. It is noted that no such guidelines have been prepared to date.
Reviewed 15 May 2020