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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 the five principles of ESD identified in the Act
  • how we administer legislation in accordance with ESD principles
  • how the outcomes we work towards, and are appropriated resources against, contribute to ESD
  • how our activities affect the environment and how we minimise harm to it, and
  • how we review and increase the effectiveness of measures to minimise harm.

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 second chapter (see Environmental Performance page 22). Further examples of how the department has implemented ESD principles are as follows:

1. The integration principle

Environmental, social, economic and equitable considerations are integrated into decisionmaking. For example, in 2004-05:

  • 132 projects were funded by govenment to help targeted regions deal with major economic, environmental and social changes through the Sustainable Regions Programme (page 121), and
  • the department assisted the government to establish an environmental trust fund in honour of Norfolk Island's late Deputy Chief Minister (page 17).

2. The precautionary principle

Lack of scientific certainty is not used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. For example, tighter emission standards were introduced for light motor vehicles from
1 January 2005.

3. The intergenerational principle

Conservation of the environment is supported for the benefit of future generations. For example, in 2004-05 the department:

  • made information on greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions of new cars available on our website www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au which received more than 80,000 visits, and
  • began work on a formal heritage strategy to articulate how we protect the heritage assets we administer (page 22).

4. The biodiversity principle

Biodiversity and ecologicial integrity are taken into account where these are indentified as at risk in particular programmes. For example, in 2004-05:

  • the department administered funding to protect a colony of endangered Cumberland Land Snails as part of Westlink M7 motorway project (see case study page 15), and
  • international leadership was demonstrated by the government through its work with international organisations on protection of the sea (page 90).

5. The valuation principle

Valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms are being improved to ensure the true cost of activities-environmental, social and economic-are recognised. For example, in 2004-05 we released new research on the health impacts of transport emissions (page 186).

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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).

For a complete and up-to-date copy of the AAO, visit www.pmc.gov.au or www.comlaw.gov.au and search for AAO.

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How our activities affect the environment and how we minimise harm

While many of the department's activities have a positive impact on the environment, as highlighted in Chapter 2 and above, its day-to-day operations consume resources such as electricity, water, petrol and paper. Waste is also created in various forms.

Government targets met

In 2004-05 we continued to meet the Australian Government target for energy usage of less than 10 megajoules per person (see figure 6A below). We also decreased energy consumption by vehicles. No breaches of environmental laws or licenses were reported.

Figure 6A - Trends in departmental electricity consumption

Figure 6A - Trends in departmental electricity consumption

'Rethink, reduce, recycle' - some other achievements

To reduce any harm that our operations may cause to the environment, the department aspires to 'rethink, reduce and recycle'. In 2004-05 we:

  • sourced 3.5 per cent of the building electricity we used from renewable sources, namely solar, wind, biomass, tidal or hydroelectric power that does not use dam water, and
  • put in place a contract with office machine supplier Fuji Xerox, who remanufactures more than 80 per cent of the printer cartridges and other parts we return to them.

We also started work to put in place an environmental management system with a particular focus on our main offices in Canberra (page 23).

Table 6.4 - Trends in departmental energy consumption

Buildings and electricity
Office buildings
Area occupied
19 018 m²
24 840 m²
29 159 m²
25 864 m²
28 235 m²
1 037
1 128
1 114
1 326
Area per person
26.2 m²/
24.0 m²/
25.9 m²/
23.2 m²/
21.3 m²/
Electricity used
10 022 GJ
10 110 GJ
10 785 GJ
11 041 GJ
12 259 GJ
Electricity used per personb
13 785 MJ/
9 749 MJ/
9 561 MJ/
9 911 MJ/
9 254MJ/
Electricity used by area
527 MJ/m²
407 MJ/m²
370 MJ/m²
427 MJ/m²
434 MJ/m²
Electricity sourced from renewable sources
not reported
not reported
not reported
not reported
Other buildings
Area occupied
1306 m²
1306 m²
1306 m²
1306 m²
1306 m²
Electricity used
144 GJ
97 GJ
101 GJ
91 GJ
118 GJ
Electricity used by area
110 MJ/m²
74.3 MJ/m²
77.7 MJ/m²
69.7 MJ/m²
90 MJ/m²
Passenger vehicles
Total petrol used
119 415 L
100 159 L
122 828 L
135 269 L
124 425 L
Average fuel economy/ 100km
10.0 L
10.4 L
10.3 L
8.8 L
11.1 L
Total fuel used
4 084 GJ
3 425 GJ
4 201 GJ
4 657 GJ
4 267 GJ
Vehicle fl eet compliance with green vehicle guide
Other transport
Total automotive diesel used
0 L
3963 L
4233 L
0 L
0 L
Total petrol used
5029 L
0 L
2656 L
0 L
0 L
Total fuel used
172 GJ
153 GJ
254 GJ
0 GJ
0 GJ
Total of the above
Direct energy consumed
14 422 GJ
13 785 GJ
15 342 GJ
15 789 GJ
16 644 GJ
Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 tonnes)
not reported
not reported
not reported
not reported
3 777 t

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 we review and increase the effectiveness of environmental measures

Each year the department contributes 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 table 6.4 above.

New environmental measures implemented and more planned

In 2004-05 the department commissioned Level 1 and Level 2 energy audits of our major ACT and regional sites. We introduced an environmental management system to improve environmental performance in our main Canberra offices, in line with the international standard ISO 14001:2004.

In 2005-06, we will:

  • complete the upgrade and standardisation of recycling practices, to minimise the amount of general waste going to landfill
  • reuse existing furniture and fittings and improve how we use space and natural light in the reconfiguration of our national office accommodation
  • implement new purchasing guidelines which incorporate environmental criteria
  • start works to reduce our water consumption by five per cent a year over the three years from 2005-06, and
  • continue with the third year of a five-year programme of works with DASCEM/United KFPW to minimise the amount of energy we consume.

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