The Albanese Government is attempting to make a new market for nature protection through the Nature Repair Market Bill, that they say will provide financial opportunities for landholders to protect and restore nature on their land.
However, Labor’s scheme risks becoming an avenue for government-endorsed greenwashing by allowing nature-wrecking companies like developers and mine operators to use the Nature Repair Market to buy ‘offsets’ for the damage they do to nature.
You simply can’t call it a ‘Nature Repair Market’ if it’s driven by habitat destruction.
That’s why we all need to speak up by making a quick submission to urge Labor to rule out allowing offsets under the Nature Repair Market, and to focus on the real priorities nature urgently needs the government to act on:
Here is our breakdown of the Nature Repair Market Bill to help you to write your submission.
While the proposed legislation is complex, your message doesn’t have to be. Focus on explaining why this matters to you (why you love nature) and use the key points for writing your submission to guide your main points.
In essence, the plan is to create a new market for biodiversity protection on privately-owned land. The legislation creates a framework for landholders to apply for ‘biodiversity certificates’ for projects that protect and restore nature on their land.
The biodiversity certificates are listed on a register and can be sold to companies, philanthropists or governments, which the government hopes will mean that landholders can turn nature protection into a revenue stream. The scheme is to be regulated by the Clean Energy Regulator, with an expert committee to provide advice to the Environment Minister on methods.
There are higher priorities than a new nature market that the government should be focusing on – like creating strong laws that actually protect nature, introducing an independent regulator to enforce the law and ramping up public funding for nature.
ACF is supportive in principle of land managers being paid for stewardship efforts that go beyond their legal obligations. 48% of Australia’s threatened species habitat occurs on private land, so having better systems to support landholders to protect nature has a role to play in helping threatened species recover.
However, overall the Nature Repair Market is an unnecessary distraction from the urgent needs of new nature laws and much more public funding to protect and restore nature.
After many years of inaction that has allowed the continual decline of nature, the Albanese Government has committed to reform our national nature protection law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has responded to the recommendations of the independent, 10-year review of the EPBC Act, and accepted the need for “fundamental reform” of these laws.
This is a big and complex task which is underway right now. Getting strong new national nature laws done is a higher priority than creating a market for biodiversity certificates, and logically should come first as they will set the framework for voluntary actions over and above our foundational nature protection laws.
An offset is where a business (like a developer or mine operator) is given a permit to destroy nature in one place provided they buy the protection of nature elsewhere as compensation.
Under the Nature Repair Market, this would mean businesses that want to destroy nature could buy ‘biodiversity certificates’ as their offsets. The Albanese Government hasn’t ruled offsets out of the Nature Repair Market – a critical call that will determine the integrity of the scheme and the true benefit for nature.
Offsets don’t add to the amount of nature actually being protected, and what is set aside as an offset never really replaces what is destroyed. There are loads of examples of dodgy and failed biodiversity offsets schemes, we can’t afford to make these mistakes again while the extinction crisis continues to escalate.
As is the case with climate-heating carbon emissions, we need to be discouraging biodiversity loss, not encouraging it by claiming it can be offset. The answer to reducing emissions and reducing biodiversity loss is the same – stop the problem at its source by doing less of it rather than pretending that offsets are the solution.
ACF has had a consistent position through consultations and public commentary on the Nature Repair Market Bill. We have:
ACF made a detailed submission to the exposure draft of the Nature Repair Market Bill expanding on the concerns outlined above as well as arguing that the reforms to the EPBC Act be completed before the Nature Repair Market is introduced.
The Bill was introduced to the House of Representatives by the Environment Minister on 29 March 2023. It is yet to be debated.
It has been referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee which is due to report by 1 August 2023. Submissions are due by 1 June 2023.
ACF will make a submission to the Senate inquiry, calling for the Bill to be amended to exclude the Nature Repair Market being used as a biodiversity offset scheme.
While there is a lot of detail to the proposed Nature Repair Market, your submission doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Here is a summary of key points you can make, and remember to explain why protecting nature matters to you.
Thanks for reading through, and good luck writing your submission.