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World Environment Day 2019 Motion

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
6 June 2019

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: I move:

That private members' business item No. 77 outside the order of precedence be considered in a short form format.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN (18:24): I move:

1.That this House notes that:

(a)Wednesday 5 June is World Environment Day, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 on the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment;

(b)Since 1974, World Environment Day has helped UNEP raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing concerns such as thedepletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification and global warming;

(c)World Environment Day has developed into a global platform for taking action on urgent environmental issues;

(d)millions of people have taken part over the years, helping drive change in our consumption habits, as well as in national and international environmental policy;

(e)the theme of this year's World Environment Day is Beat Air Pollution;

(f)air pollution remains a significant public health burden in New South Wales, and coal combustion remains one of New South Wales's largest sources of air pollution; and

(g)coal-fired power stations remain the dominant source of Australia's fine particle pollution (26 per cent of the national "all sources" total), oxides of nitrogen (26 per cent), and sulphur dioxide (49 per cent) as documented in the National Pollutant Inventory.

2.That this House thanks the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, the National Parks Association of New South Wales, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, the Total Environment Centre, the Environmental Defenders Office of NSW, the Wilderness Society, the Environmental Justice Australia and Doctors for the Environment and all of the other local, State and national organisations, communities and individuals who work tirelessly to protect and care for the environment in New South Wales.

World Environment Day is very important because it is a day on which we celebrate the incredible work that is done by individuals and communities right across the world to care for and support our environment. World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 on the first day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm and resulted from discussions on the integration of human interactions and the environment. That was more than 45 years ago. Later that year, the General Assembly designated 5 June as World Environment Day and urged "Governments and the organizations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year world-wide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness and to pursuing the determination expressed at the Conference." Since then every year on 5 June many communities across the world have celebrated World Environment Day. That was 45 years ago. Where are we now in 2019?

On 6 May the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services [IPBES] released theIPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It was the most comprehensive report ever completed. It was a systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources and was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries. It was compiled over three years with inputs from another 310 contributing authors. The report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades. Unfortunately, what they found was very dire. IPBES Chair Sir Robert Watson said:

The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture. The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.

The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global. Through "transformative change", nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably–this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.

That is pretty serious stuff from the United Nations almost 50 years on from when World Environment Day was first established in 1972. The motion before the House today recognises World Environment Day and the history of World Environment Day. It also calls on the House to thank the environment groups that have worked hard and tirelessly for decades to protect nature and the environment in New South Wales.

I named those organisations deliberately because they deserve to be named in this place. They are the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the National Parks Association of NSW, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, the Total Environment Centre, the Environmental Defenders Office New South Wales—a fabulous organisation whose board I used to be on—the Wilderness Society, Environmental Justice Australia and Doctors for the Environment Australia. They do so much tireless work and important advocacy. The last part of my motion is about the theme of this year's World Environment Day, which is "Beat Air Pollution". Yes, I have mentioned coal‑fired power stations and their emissions in the motion because emissions from coal‑fired power stations are the weak link when it comes to air pollution in this State. They are not regulated by the Government. I urge all members to support the motion.

 

Motion agreed to.

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
6 June 2019
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