29 September Climate change action is being driven by business and industry September 29, 2020 By Sally Parker Environment, General, Industry ClimateChange, Industry, ParisAgreement 0 While everyone’s focus in recent months has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change was top of everyone’s mind when the year began with bushfires ravaging Australia. The pandemic has seen individuals and organisations assess their ideologies and perspectives on a range of topics, climate change being one of them. It now seems that climate change is back on everyone’s agenda and none more so than business and industry. While everyone’s focus in recent months has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change was top of everyone’s mind when the year began with bushfires ravaging Australia. The pandemic has seen individuals and organisations assess their ideologies and perspectives on a range of topics, climate change being one of them. It now seems that climate change is back on everyone’s agenda and none more so than business and industry. Underpinning climate change policy is the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement had 195 signatory countries who pledged to limit global warming to ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. With mining responsible for between 4 and 7% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, achieving this target requires decarbonisation. This will result in a significant shift in demand for mining commodities and potential profits unless organisations and the industry changes. BHP recently announced its support of the Paris Agreement and climate change approach. The company’s approach is focused on several areas including reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions, and managing climate-related risk and opportunity. To achieve this BHP has set both long and short term goals. It goals including: Achieving net zero operational emissions by 2050; Maintaining operational emissions at or below 2017 levels by 2022, using carbon offsets if required; Reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% from adjusted 2020 levels by 2030 It has also committed to contributing to decarbonisation of their value chain, strengthening the link between executive remuneration and delivery of their climate plan, and providing further insight into how BHP’s portfolio is transitioning to a 1.5°C scenario. Fortescue Metals has also committed to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040. It has also invested over US$800 million to reduce emissions from power generation by investigating opportunities to increase the use of renewable energy including solar generation and green hydrogen. Some companies are starting to take the lead on initiatives that in turn ensure they can maintain production. For example, the Drayton mine in New South Wales improved evaporation monitoring to reduce water loss. While companies are taking the lead, industry bodies also play an important role in climate change policy. In an acknowledgment of this, BHP has committed to work with industry associations to develop a protocol and plan for advocacy. Their intention here is to assist those associations to improve how they allocate resources and ensure the industry has a consistent and transparent voice on issues related to climate change. The company has gone further by committing to publish material associations it is a member of that have an active position on climate policy and disclose those that materially depart from its global climate policy standards. While this is a promising move, the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) is pushing to go further by streamlining climate change disclosures in Australia and New Zealand. Their proposed changes are based on the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework. The TCFD is a coalition supported by over 300 investors and has recommended that companies disclose their transition risks of decarbonisation to improve decision-making, risk assessment, portfolio management and engagement. The report advocates for disclosures in several areas including: The skill and expertise of the board, directors and executives in climate change; Links between risks and opportunities identified and the company’s strategic and organisational response; and Reporting on both transition and physical risks, costs and implications. The push for a consistent approach to climate change is also supported by the Australian Climate Roundtable - a group that includes not only business interests but environmental groups and unions. They’re concerned that without a clear approach to national targets and roadmaps, Australia will risk investment in favour of other economies. The CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, has said that billions of dollars worth of investment as well as jobs and new industries could be created with a clear climate change policy. The approach reflects changing community attitudes towards climate change. The industry has recognised that being on the front foot with climate change is good business. Related Articles Submission - DISER Consultation Paper December 2020 ‘Enhancing Australia’s decommissioning framework for offshore oil and gas activities’ COMMUNITY LEGAL RIGHTS IN MINE CLOSURE PLANNING; A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THREE AUSTRALIAN STATES Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School, and Laura Hamblin, formerly research associate at the UWA Law School, 2021 Why does the Mining Act 1978 (WA) not provide secure legal rights for community consultation in relation to mining lease proposals and mine closure plans? Addressing this question presents an important theme for this comparative review of some core features of the regulatory frameworks for mine closure in three Australian States. It also raises important questions for future legal research. Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria have prominent but vastly different, and thus uniquely significant, mining industries. Western Australia’s mining industry has a long history of large and smaller scale mining of a diverse range of minerals by various methods that pose significant mine rehabilitation challenges.[i] Queensland’s mining industry is similarly large and diverse, dominated by export coal production, and planning future minerals development in a decarbonising world.[ii] Victoria has a smaller mining industry with a large historical legacy dominated by a coal mining industry for domestic electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley, which is closing as the State actively transitions to renewable power sources.[iii] These States also have significant differences in the regulation of their mining industries. What all three States do have in common is the significance of their mining industries to both the State economy and the communities who depend on or live near mining operations. Importantly, all three States are confronting large legal and regulatory challenges in managing mine rehabilitation and closure. The key to addressing these challenges is effective mine closure planning: the closure of a mine site has ripple effects that are not merely environmental and economic, but social and cultural too. The initial approval of a mine closure plan occurs before any mining has begun and, with the life cycle of a mine often spanning decades, regulatory bodies are approving hypothetical closure scenarios, potentially subject to vast changes. Regulatory bodies may then seek to enforce closure requirements enshrined in a plan that may wane in relevance as mining operations progress, the updating of which may depend on the miner. Yet remedying the regulatory system so that it creates adaptable but consistently effective mine closure outcomes for affected communities still begins at planning. Although that planning is an iterative process across the life of the mine, it is very important at the initial stage of approval. Recent legislative reforms in all three States are adding to the regulatory rigour and adaptability of mine closure planning, though there are very different legal requirements for community consultation. This article aims to explain and assess the regulatory reforms by undertaking a comparative analysis of mine closure planning across Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, with a focus on the initial approval stage and how stakeholders and communities are brought into that process. The facilitation of continuous and comprehensive community engagement is critical to ensuring that mine closure planning accounts for environmental, economic, social, cultural and safety outcomes after mine closure, but it has not been possible to consider here the process of ongoing mine closure planning, especially for amending mine closure plans and determining satisfaction of mine closure plans leading to resource tenure relinquishment.[iv] The article begins by considering core concepts of mine closure planning and the regulatory goals that inform it. It then provides a comparative overview of each State’s mine closure planning requirements under the mineral resources, environmental and land use planning laws and draws out some of the different regulatory structures and processes for mine closure within each State. The third step in our analysis compares the ways in which those laws provide for local communities’ participation in mine closure planning, with specific attention to whether the regulatory provisions create legally enforceable rights for effective community engagement. The article concludes with a summary of the key points from the discussion of three themes in our analysis: (i) the importance of clear definitions of core concepts and key goals, (ii) mine closure planning as an essential part of a mining proposal, and (iii) the legal definition of community engagement and consultation rights. Mine closure planning and implementation is necessarily influenced by many other spheres of law including taxation law, investment law, water law, and the rights of traditional owners, to name a few. A potentially directly relevant Commonwealth law is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), which may require environmental impact assessment of a mining proposal and closure plan and lead to approval conditions supplementing State requirements.[v] Whilst acknowledging the importance of these adjacent spheres of the regulatory frameworks for effective mine closure planning, this article does not attempt to address their impact. In particular, the rights of Traditional Custodians are a crucial part of mine closure planning that are only briefly noted here and that would benefit from future research. WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Major Commodities Review 2022-23”. Qld Government, Department of Resources, Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, June 022. Vic Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy. See L Hamblin, A Gardner, Y Haigh, Mapping the Regulatory Framework of Mine Closure, May 2022, CRC TiME, for a broader exploration of the full life cycle of mine closure regulation. In Buzzacott v Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities  FCAFC 111; (2013) 214 FCR 301, , -, referring to the range of approval conditions, which included mine closure. In setting conditions under the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth Minister must consider any relevant conditions under State or Territory law: at  citing Lansen v Minister for Environment and Heritage (2008) 174 FCR 14. SHARMA v MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT More than a year on from the overturning of Sharma v Minister for the Environment by the Full Federal Court, Justice Bromberg’s original judgment continues to occupy the minds of the Australian legal community. Although the current position in Australia is that the Minister owes no duty of care in such cases, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia stressed that the expert evidence regarding the threat of climate change and global warming was largely uncontested, perhaps foreshadowing the cornerstone of cases to come. Globally, climate litigation is showing no signs of slowing down. As outlined below, despite numerous defeats in various jurisdictions, climate litigants have secured a small number of hard-won victories, fuelling the pipeline. ARELJ Article- Activist Shareholders and Climate Change: Australian Developments Submission - Consultation on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Titles Administration and Other Measures) Bill 2021 ARELJ Article- Market Substitution, Climate Change and Coal Royalty Revenue in Queensland and NSW: Filling the Void Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.