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Appendix E : Report on ecologically sustainable development

This appendix reports on how we implemented the principles for ecologically sustainable development (ESD) set out in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). As required by section 516A of the Act, it explains:

How our activities accord with ESD principles

Examples of how our activities accord with ESD principles can be found throughout this report, starting with the first chapter (see Environmental Performance). Specific examples of how we implement each ESD principle are as follows:

1. The integration principle

We integrate environmental, social, economic and equitable considerations into decisionmaking. For example, in 2003-04 we:

  • funded evaluations of the environmental and other impacts of specific transport proposals such as the Gold Coast Light Rail Project, and
  • made grants to diverse projects under the Sustainable Regions Programme, to help eight regions deal with major economic, environmental and social changes.

2. The precautionary principle

We do not use lack of scientific certainty as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. For example, in 2003-04 we:

3. The intergenerational principle

We promote conservation of the environment for the benefit of future generations. For example, in 2003-04 we:

  • sponsored meetings to find solutions to the critical water issues facing our nation, including through the Regional Women's Advisory Council (see case study), and
  • worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road vehicles through regulation, vehicle labelling and a new online guide (http://www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au/).

We will receive an extra $6.3 million over four years from 2004-05 to continue and expand our efforts to promote, regulate for and enforce reduced vehicle emissions.

4. The biodiversity principle

We ensure biodiversity and ecological integrity are fundamental to decision-making. For example, in 2003-04 we:

  • worked with local government to promote better practice in protecting biodiversity (see case study), and
  • enacted regulations to prohibit ships from discharging untreated sewage into waters within 12 nautical miles of land.

5. The valuation principle

We are working to improve valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms to ensure the true cost of activities are recognised. For example, in 2003-04 we:

  • researched and released a major report on principles and practices in rail infrastructure pricing (see Appendix B), and
  • established environmental criteria which transport operators must satisfy in order to be eligible for fuel excise reductions from 1 July 2006.

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How we administer legislation in accordance with ESD principles

Certain officers exercise decision-making powers and advise our ministers on the exercise of their powers under portfolio legislation and other matters. These are as set out in the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO) for the Commonwealth of Australia. More than 20 pieces of our portfolio legislation go to ESD issues. The main Acts relate to:

  • noise and damage caused by aircraft (six Acts) and regulation of leased airports including environment protection (one Act)
  • protection of the sea and the marine environment (ten Acts), and
  • motor vehicle safety, emission and anti-theft standards (one Act) and road transport charges (two Acts).

To review a complete and up-to-date copy of the AAO, visit http://www.pmc.gov.au/. A version of the AAO with links to each Act listed is also available at: scale.law.gov.au

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How our outcomes contribute to ESD

ESD is integral to our two outcomes: transport and regional services.

In building a better transport system for Australia, we seek to provide transport systems which are sustainable and accessible, as well as secure, safe and competitive. For more information on how we achieved this, see Chapter 4.

In providing regional services, we aspire to build sustainable regions and sound local development practices that take into account issues including natural disaster risks. For more information on how we achieved this, see Chapter 5.

Table 7.4 - Departmental energy consumption

1997-98
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
Buildings and electricity
Office buildings
Occupancy a
727
1 037
1 128
1 114
Area occupied
19 018 m2
24 840 m2
29 159 m2
25 864 m2
Area per person
26.2 m2/
24.0 m2/
25.9 m2/
23.2 m2/
Electricity used in kWh
2.8 million kWh
2.8 million kWh
3.0 million kWh
3.1 million kWh
Electricity used in GJ
10 022 GJ
10 110 GJ
10 785 GJ
11 041 GJ
Electricity used by area
527 MJ/m2
407 MJ/m2
370 MJ/m2
427 MJ/m2
Electricity used per person b
13 785 MJ/
9 749 MJ/
9 561 MJ/
9 911 MJ/
Other buildings
Area occupied
1306 m2
1306 m2
1306 m2
1306 m2
Electricity used in kWh
40 000 kWh
26 941 kWh
28 177 kWh
25 207 kWh
Electricity used in GJ
144 GJ
97 GJ
101 GJ
91 GJ
Electricity used by area
110 MJ/m2
74.3 MJ/m2
77.7 MJ/m2
69.7 MJ/m2
Transport c
Passenger vehicles c
Distance travelled
1.2 million km
1.0 million km
1.2 million km
1.5 million km
Petrol used
119 415 L
100 159 L
122 828 L
135 269 L
Fuel used in GJ
4 084 GJ
3 425 GJ
4 201 GJ
4 657 GJ
Fuel economy
10.0 L/100km
10.4 L/100km
10.3 L/100 km
8.8 L/100 km
Other transport
Automotive diesel
0 L
3963 L
4233 L
0 L
Petrol
5029 L
0 L
2656 L
0 L
Fuel used in GJ(all other transport)
172 GJ
153 GJ
254 GJ
0 GJ
Total energy consumed
14 422 GJ
13 785 GJ
15 342 GJ
15 789 GJ

a Occupants may include contractors and employees of contracted service providers as well as staff
b The Australian Government's energy consumption target is no more than 10 000MJ per person per year
c Transport statistics include senior executive and other departmental vehicles but do not include any vehicles staff may have chosen to receive in lieu of remuneration and make private use of under salary packaging

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How our activities affect the environment and how we minimise harm

Our activities generally have a positive impact on the environment, as highlighted in Chapter 1 and elsewhere in this appendix. However, in our day-to-day operations, we do consume resources such as electricity, water, petrol and paper. We also create waste in various forms.

In 2003-04 we met the Australian Government target for energy consumption for the third year running. However, as illustrated below, our overall consumption and consumption per person rose slightly due to a shift to 24 hours operations in the new Office of Transport Security and a shift in the locations where staff are based (see table 7.7).

Figure 7A - Trends in departmental energy consumption

Figure 7A - Trends in departmental energy consumption

To reduce any harm that our operations may cause to the environment, we aspire to 'rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle'. We are:

  • Rethinking our activities. Office cleaning is now done during the day to limit the need for lights at night, and most staff do not have personal waste bins.
  • Reducing the energy we consume per person. We are rationalising our office accommodation. Centralised building systems control lighting and air conditioning in many locations.
  • Recycling waste materials including paper, printer cartridges, and glass and plastics. There are clearly labelled bins for recyclables as well as non-recyclables in central areas such as kitchens and utility rooms.

No breaches of environmental laws or licenses were reported in 2003-04.

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How we review and increase the effectiveness of environmental measures

Our new certified agreement, as negotiated over 2003-04, commits the department's management and staff to develop and promote initiatives to reduce energy usage, waste generation and the cost of consumables through a departmental energy plan.

We have engaged DASCEM Holdings Pty Limited, an Australian-based environmental and engineering services consultancy, to help us analyse and improve our environmental performance on accommodation issues. We monitor our performance on a location by location basis, and are looking to consolidate our office accommodation further in coming years.

We contribute to a detailed annual report on energy use in Australian Government operations. This report is published by the Australian Greenhouse Office and is available at www.greenhouse.gov.au/. Our energy consumption is summarised in the table 7.4.

Evaluating the impact and sustainability of the policies and programmes we deliver remains a challenge. This reflects the difficulty of measuring long term national outcomes, especially where:

  • the precautionary principle demands that we do not wait until we have complete information to act on an issue, and
  • we work with many other bodies to achieve our outcomes, as discussed in Chapter 6.

We are active contributors to ongoing debate on this issue. For example, our Programmes Group provided one of several speakers for a seminar on measuring sustainability convened by the Canberra Evaluation Forum in August 2003.

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