Taking action on climate change is a shared responsibility between government, business, industry and community.
The Victorian Government has clear goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- By 2030 – cut emissions to 45 to 50% below the 2005 levels.
- By 2035 – cut emissions to 75 to 80% below the 2005 levels.
- By 2045 - reach net-zero emissions. This will soon become law.
We play an essential role in implementing the Victorian Government's direction on climate change. Read more in our Strategic plan 2022 - 2027.
How we regulate climate change
Our goal is to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of pollution and waste on our environment and people. This includes regulating the causes and consequences of climate change.
We have a clear role under legislation to consider climate change in our regulatory decision making. For example:
- The Environment Protection Act 2017 includes the general environmental duty (GED) which requires all Victorians to manage risks to human health and the environment that their activities create. The GED applies to both the causes and consequences of climate change.
- The Climate Change Act 2017 places obligations on us to consider the contribution of emissions and the potential impacts of climate change when making decisions on licences and permits.
In our regulatory work, we use our tools and powers in a balanced way. We prioritise our effort to where we can make the biggest difference using science, intelligence, and evidence.
We regularly review how we regulate climate change. We do this to make sure we’re in line with government policy and meeting community expectations. These reviews help us find ways to improve what we do now and, in the future, including with compliance and enforcement.
So far, our main focus has been helping individuals and businesses understand what they need to do to minimise the risks from climate change.
- supporting and influencing them to better manage risks from climate change linked to pollution and waste.
- using all our expertise and data to raise awareness and understanding about the negative effects of climate change.
Over time, we’ll adapt our approach to regulating the risks from climate change. This will happen as our regulatory capabilities grow.
In 2023-2024, we'll develop a Statement of Regulatory Intent. This is a statement that will:
- explain how we regulate the causes and consequences of climate change.
- show where we’re focusing our efforts to minimise risks from the causes and consequences of climate change.
- explain how we'll use our regulatory tools and influence to achieve the best results.
Key elements of our regulatory approach
Inform and educate
We make sure business, industry and the community know what they need to do and how to reduce risks to the environment and human health.
- let people know about the responsibilities they have to prevent harm from pollution and waste. We explain how these responsibilities relate to climate change.
- share best practice ways to address risks from climate change to help businesses meet these responsibilities and go beyond.
- monitor the quality of air and water and communicate the state of the environment. Monitoring helps us understand how climate change affects Victoria's environment over time.
- share information and give advice during emergency events like floods and bushfires. These are expected to occur more often because of climate change.
- Publication 2048 Guideline for minimising greenhouse gas emissions.
- EPA AirWatch.
- EPA Water Monitoring.
We set standards which aim to protect people's health and the environment. We base our standards on science, what people expect, and industry best practices. Standards help people understand and meet their environmental responsibilities and can help manage the risks from climate change.
- develop regulations and standards to reduce waste and encourage resource recovery
- assess risks from climate change in activities we permission (such as licences or permits). This includes requirements under the Climate Change Act 2017
- created a standard called the Environment Reference Standard with the Department of Environment, Energy, and Climate Action (DEECA). This standard helps us all understand and plan how to reduce risks from climate change.
Support to comply
We offer advice and guidance to individuals and businesses about their responsibilities towards climate change. We also work with industry groups, other government agencies, local councils, and community organisations.
- help people understand their actions can create risks that connect to climate change. We give advice on how to comply to reduce these risks, including from greenhouse gas emissions
- create guidelines that support individuals and businesses to meet their responsibilities. Such as guidelines explaining how to eliminate or reduce greenhouse gas emissions (publication 2048)
- collaborate with industry to create resources to help tackle climate change issues.
We monitor businesses and their activities to determine levels of compliance, including those connected to climate change. We focus our attention to where it can make the most impact, based on the risks.
- monitor permissioned businesses to make sure they are complying with conditions, including risks from climate change. This includes visits to places like landfills and waste and resource recovery sites
- look into notifications of pollution. This includes greenhouse gases
- we inspect businesses to prevent risks from climate change. This includes making sure there are good fire prevention plans in the waste and resource recovery industry.
Enforce the law
We take action against those who do not meet their environmental responsibilities. We make them remedy the issue and any harm caused, and we apply penalties where appropriate.
We can use a range of tools, powers, and functions to enforce obligations connected to climate change. We do this consistent with our compliance and enforcement approach.
The way we use our toolkit to enforce the law when it comes to risks from climate change is always maturing.
- issue remedial notices if businesses do not meet their responsibilities to reduce risks of harm. Risks could include odour from methane emissions or more sewage spills because of changing rain patterns. Addressing these risks may also address risks from climate change
- use sanctions, if necessary, like revoking licences for landfills or prosecuting those who illegally burn waste.
Encourage higher performance
We work with individuals and businesses to encourage ideas to improve how they manage environmental risk. Our goal is to help them improve how they do things and inform future standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dealing with climate change.
- highlight the good work of those who reduce emissions and manage climate change risks well. This shows others how they can handle climate change risks beyond minimum standards.
- work closely with other government agencies across Australia. We promote ways to prevent harm from climate change risks and raise awareness about climate change.
For more information about how Victoria is taking action on climate change, visit climatechange.vic.gov.au
For more information on how we consider climate change in our decision making visit:
Reviewed 26 October 2023