Australia: Victoria Moves Ahead With Release Of Climate Change White Paper And The Climate Change Bill 2010

Carbon Insights

Victoria has taken a major step in advancing the climate change agenda in Australia with the release of the Victorian Climate Change White Paper - The Action Plan on 26 July and the introduction into Parliament of the Climate Change Bill 2010 on 27 July 2010.

As a package, the Action Plan and the Bill represent a bold move by the Victorian Government to address the impacts of climate change at the State level, and will affect almost all sectors of the Victorian economy, including energy generation, construction, development, and transport.

Action Plan includes 10 actions aimed at reducing emissions, providing for a more diverse energy mix, encouraging more water and energy efficient Victorian homes and businesses and facilitating community adaptation to climate change.

The key changes include:

  • the ambitious target of a 20 percent reduction in Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (compared to 2000 levels), equivalent to a 40 percent per capita reduction;
  • significant increases in the power of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions; and
  • a new target emission level of 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (per MWh) to be set for all new power stations in Victoria.

What does the Action Plan propose to reduce climate change?

The Action Plan is intended to place Victoria at the forefront of the climate change debate and emissions reduction schemes nationwide. Importantly, the Action Plan reflects the Government's position that the failure to reach an agreement at Copenhagen and the subsequent defeat and deferral of a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme at the Commonwealth level do not justify doing nothing to reduce Victoria's greenhouse gas emission levels.

The 10 actions set out in the Action Plan are:

  1. Legislating a target reduction - introduce a Climate Change Bill to set and facilitate an emissions reduction target, as well as establish a framework for measuring and reporting on climate change actions;
  2. Clean energy - reduce brown coal-fired generators' greenhouse gas emissions by up to 4 million tonnes over the next four years through a competitive "open book" process and regulating to ensure that no approvals are granted for new coal fired power stations based on current brown coal technologies;
  3. Solar - increase Victoria's large scale solar power electricity supply to approximately 5 percent by 2020 and provide incentives to install and develop solar technology as well as a streamlined planning approvals process called the "Green Door" for renewable energy projects;
  4. Homes - require all new homes and major renovations to meet a 6 star minimum energy rating from 2011 and aim for all existing homes to achieve a 5-star equivalent rating by 2020;
  5. Business - position Victoria to be a global leader in clean technology and drive improvements in energy efficiency in business including by expanding the Victorian Energy Saver Incentive to allow participation by small and medium enterprises and aiming to expand the Environment and Resource Efficiency Plan programme;
  6. Farms and forestry - support Victoria's agriculture, food and forestry sectors in adjusting to changing economic, industry and environmental conditions and establish the Victorian Carbon Exchange to enable the voluntary purchase of carbon offsets;
  7. Transport - build on the Victorian Transport Plan by encouraging local design and manufacture of electric vehicles, improved fuel efficiency and promoting low-emission travel options;
  8. Government - continue to reform the Victorian Government's operations to set a national benchmark for greener government and ensure that climate change becomes part of the mainstream business of government and public sector decision-making;
  9. Adaptation - implement programs which assist individuals, businesses and local communities in understanding and adapting to their specific climate change-related risks;
  10. Climate communities - expand Victoria's Climate Communities Program to assist communities and businesses to implement their ideas in addressing climate change.

How the Climate Change Bill 2010 will implement the Action Plan

As stated in the preamble to the Bill, the Victorian Government recognises the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change.

In an effort to "respond to the challenges of climate change", the Bill seeks to implement a broad-ranging framework for action including:

  • introducing a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • providing for forestry rights, carbon sequestration rights and soil carbon rights on land and
  • amending the Environment Protection Act 1970 to empower the EPA to regulate the emission or discharge of greenhouse gas.

Greenhouse gas emissions target of 20 percent by 2020

Under the Bill, the Minister must ensure that, by the year 2020, the amount of Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions is 20 percent below the amount of Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions for the year 2000. The Minister may determine a figure that represents the 2000 greenhouse levels in accordance with the method prescribed by the Regulations. The Action Plan explains that this target would act as a benchmark for action on climate change in Australia.

The Minister must report to each House of Parliament on Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions and the extent to which emissions have been reduced against 2000 levels, on or before 31 December 2011, and then biennially.

Obligations of decision-makers to have regard to climate change

Specified decision-makers will be required to take into account the potential impacts of climate change and the potential contribution to Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions relevant to a specified decision or action. The specified decisions or actions are listed in Schedule 1 of the Bill and include:

  • approval or refusal of a management plan under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994;
  • consideration by the Minister of a draft Coastal Strategy under the Coastal Management Act 1995;
  • the issue of, or refusal to issue, a works approval by the EPA under section 19B and a decision relating to the licensing of scheduled premises by the EPA under section 20 of the Environment Protection Act 1970, affecting general industrial and commercial sites that are large emitters and energy users;
  • decisions relating to action statements, management plans and interim conservation orders by the Secretary under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988; and
  • consideration of a draft Sustainable Water Strategy by the Minister under section 22G of the Water Act 1989.

What are the relevant consideration for decision-makers?

In having regard to the potential impacts of climate change, the relevant considerations for a person making a decision or taking an action are the potential:

  • biophysical impacts;
  • long- and short-term economic, environmental, health and other social impacts;
  • beneficial and detrimental impacts;
  • direct and indirect impacts;
  • cumulative impacts.

In having regard to the potential contribution to Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions, the relevant considerations are the potential:

  • short- and long-term greenhouse gas emissions;
  • direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions;
  • increases and decreases in greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • cumulative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Minister may issue guidelines for a person making a decision or taking an action about the scope and application of these requirements.

Climate Change Adaptation Plan

A Climate Change Adaptation Plan must be prepared every four years by the Minister, with the first plan to be prepared on or before 31 December 2012. The Plan will provide for an outline and a risk assessment of climate change impacts on Victoria and the Government's priorities in response to those impacts and risks.

Reviews of the Climate Change Act

An independent review of the Climate Change Act must be completed on or before 31 December 2015.

The Bill also provides that if the Federal Government proposes legislation for a national emissions trading scheme in Australia, the Victorian Minister must undertake a review of the Climate Change Act.

Forestry and Carbon Sequestration Rights

The Bill establishes forest carbon rights (which include carbon sequestration rights, forestry rights and soil carbon rights) as an interest in land which may be created and transferred.

The Bill also provides for the creation of Forestry and Carbon Management Agreements between owners of a freehold or leasehold estate in land and the owner of a forest carbon right to provide for the imposition of management obligations in relation to carbon sequestration.

Under the Bill, a person who is bound by a Forestry and Carbon Management Agreement may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for enforcement of the agreement or for resolution of a dispute in relation to the agreement.

The Secretary of the Department of Sustainability and Environment is responsible for the management of Crown land for the purposes of carbon sequestration and can enable carbon sequestration and soil carbon rights to be granted to third parties through Carbon Sequestration Agreements.

Amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1970

The Bill inserts a new definition into the Environment Protection Act of greenhouse gas substances, corresponding with the definition of greenhouse gases in the Commonwealth National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007. The Bill also amends the definition of waste to include greenhouse gas substances emitted in gaseous form or discharged in a liquid form into the environment.

The Bill includes specific powers for the making of statutory policies (such as state environment protection policies) and regulations to control the emission of greenhouse gas to contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions target and reduce environmental harm.

Regulations can also be made to prohibit or control greenhouse gas emissions, prescribing standards for the discharge of such emissions including emission intensity standards and maximum emissions and prescribing conditions under which greenhouse gases may be emitted.

According to the second reading speech, it is proposed that "as a first step" following the passage of the Bill the EPA will use these new powers to set up an emission intensity standard for new power stations, with the Government proposing a standard of 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (per MWh) subject to public consultation and an assessment of economic and social impacts.

The powers may also be used to establish emission standards for existing power stations, however the second reading speech states that this would be a matter for consideration in the future and only after full public consultation and regulatory impact statements. Accordingly, it is unlikely that the amendments will be used immediately to regulate existing power stations greenhouse gas emissions through their discharge licences. The Bill also:

  • introduces climate covenants, which are voluntary agreements entered into between the Premier, the Minister and any person or body to facilitate activities or implement measures directed to climate change; and
  • creates a Climate Communities Fund Account to help fund community activities which are geared towards mitigating the impacts of climate change in Victoria.

What happens now?

Further detail on the specific initiatives underpinning the Action Plan will be set out in a White Paper Implementation Plan which is scheduled for release later this year, assuming that the Bill is passed in its current form.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.