Australia: Victoria's new climate change legislation introduced into Parliament

Last Updated: 9 December 2016
Article by Elisa de Wit and Victoria Vilagosh


In 2015, the Victorian Government commissioned the Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 (2010 Act) (Review). The Review found that the 2010 Act did not adequately support the current and future needs of Victoria in responding to climate change and made 33 recommendations, of which 32 were accepted by the government.

Since the Government released its formal response to the Review in June this year, it has been working on preparation of a Climate Change Framework, which is expected to be released before the end of the year. It has also prepared replacement legislation for the 2010 Act and on 22 November 2016, the Climate Change Bill 2016 (Bill) was introduced into Parliament. Subject to being passed, the proposed Act is intended to commence on 1 November 2017.

Overview of Bill

The Bill repeals and re-enacts the 2010 Act with amendments to give effect to the majority of the commitments set out in the Government's response to the Review. The reforms include:

  • establishing greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for Victoria, including a long-term emissions reduction target of net-zero emissions by 2050;
  • providing for the regular publication of plans and reports to increase transparency and accountability, and to ensure that the community remains informed of Victoria's ability to meet its emissions reduction targets;
  • introducing a new set of climate change policy objectives and guiding principles which will help ensure that government decision-making appropriately takes account of climate change; and
  • amending the Environment Protection Act 1970 (EP Act) to allow the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases if directed by the government of the day.

Further detail on these reforms is set out below.

Objectives of the Bill

The objectives and underlying rationale for the approach taken in the Bill is clearly framed by the preamble, which includes the following statements:

"The Parliament of Victoria recognises on behalf of the people of Victoria that the international community has reached agreement to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.
There is overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change and that global emissions will need to decline to net zero levels by the second half of the century if this global goal is to be met.
....Although responding to climate change is a responsibility shared by all levels of government, industry, communities and the people of Victoria, the role of subnational governments in driving this transition cannot be understated. Through decisive, long-term action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Victorian government can help Victoria achieve an orderly and just transition to a net zero greenhouse gas emissions economy and remain prosperous and liveable. It will also enable Victoria to benefit from the global trend towards decarbonisation.
...The Parliament of Victoria recognises that the community wants and expects Victoria to play its part in global mitigation efforts and in preparing the community for unavoidable climatic impacts. This Act will help ensure Victoria remains prosperous and liveable as we transition to meet these challenges.

Targets and regular reporting for transparency

The Bill enshrines Victoria's long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in legislation and imposes a statutory obligation on the Premier and Minister for Climate Change (Minister) to ensure that the State achieves the target. The target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions will be able to account for the deduction of any eligible offsets from outside of the State, although the type of eligible offsets are likely to be prescribed in subordinate legislation.

To provide transparency in working towards the long-term target, the Bill requires the Government to:

  • set interim targets every 5 years and assess Victoria's progress against these targets at the end of each 5 year period; and
  • publish an annual greenhouse gas emissions report, which includes an overview of the State's greenhouse gas emissions and the extent to which these emissions have been reduced.

Although the first target is not required to be set until 31 March 2020, the Government has indicated that it will be working to announce the first two targets (which will cover the period 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2030) by 2018.

The targets will be informed by independent expert advice, and will based on 2005 as the baseline year. Of note, each interim target must be tighter than the previous target. A interim target can only be amended if the Premier and the Minister consider that exceptional circumstances justify the amendment and reasons are required to be provided as to why the amendment is necessary.

To ensure that Victoria understands and is well prepared for the inevitable impacts of climate change, the Bill also requires a series of plans and reports to be prepared every 5 years, including:

  • a climate science report, which provides an update on the implications of climate change for Victoria;
  • adaptation action plans for systems that are either vulnerable to the impacts of climate change or essential to Victoria being prepared for these impacts (such as the natural and built environments, the water cycle, and primary production); and
  • a climate change strategy, which includes a statement of priorities relating to both adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change.

Policy objectives and guiding principles

To ensure that any action taken on climate change across different areas of government is consistent and coherent, the Bill builds on the principles-based approach set out in the 2010 Act. The guiding principles from the 2010 Act are largely unchanged, however a new set of policy objectives is introduced to guide policy making across government. The policy objectives include:

  • reducing emissions in line with the long-term and interim targets
  • building Victoria's resilience for climate impacts
  • promoting and supporting regions, industries and communities to adjust to a net zero transition, including capturing new opportunities; and
  • supporting vulnerable people and communities in the transition.

Considering climate change in Government decision-making

The Bill proposes that all Government decisions must take appropriate account of climate change, with the proposed wording as follows:

The Government of Victoria will endeavour to ensure that any decision made by the Government and any policy, program or process developed or implemented by the Government appropriately takes account of climate change if it is relevant by having regard to the policy objectives and the guiding principles

Ministerial guidelines will be issued governing how the Government is required to have regard to the policy objectives and the guiding principles.

Although the Government's response to the Review flagged the possible expansion of the requirement for certain Government decisions to account for climate change, the Bill does not currently propose any changes to the scope of this requirement. Certain government decisions under legislation specified in Schedule 1 to the Bill (such as the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Water Act 1989), are required to have regard to:

  • the potential impacts of climate change;
  • the potential contribution to the State's greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • any guidelines issued by the Minster.

A review of Schedule 1 is proposed to be undertaken to ascertain whether the list of legislation in Schedule 1 should be expanded.

Emissions reduction pledges

As recommended by the Review, the Bill also introduces a pledge model. The pledges, which will match the 5 yearly interim target periods, will specify actions which will be taken to reduce emissions and a reasonable estimate of the reduced emissions. The Bill requires:

  • a whole of government pledge, which sets out emissions reduction activities from all government departments as well as public entities with significant emissions profiles (these entities will be prescribed in future regulations); and
  • sector pledges, which include policy and regulatory measures to be implemented to drive emissions reductions in key sectors such as agriculture, waste and energy (the covered sectors will also be set out in future regulations).

The Bill does not impose any mandatory requirements on local government, but does enable councils to opt in to the pledge system.

Carbon projects

The Bill retains the provisions of the 2010 Act dealing with forestry rights, carbon sequestration rights and soil carbon rights and maintains the ability for carbon projects to be undertaken on Crown land through the entering of a carbon sequestration agreement with the Government.

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.

Elisa de Wit
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”

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
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 you may opt out by clicking here

    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.

    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.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    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.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions