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The Australian Conservation Foundation has told a House of Representatives inquiry that the federal government needs to spend much more on protecting biodiversity – and it can fund the increase by scrapping wasteful and inefficient tax breaks and subsidies that promote the use of fossil fuels.
ACF’s healthy ecosystems program manager Dr Paul Sinclair told the Committee on Climate Change, Environment & the Arts the federal government could save $2.3 billion in the budget by scrapping tax breaks for accelerated depreciation of oil and gas assets and removing the mining industry’s diesel fuel subsidy.
“The savings created by cutting wasteful and inefficient tax breaks and subsidies that promote pollution and unsustainable depletion of natural resources should be a source of new funds to support the environment,” Dr Sinclair told the inquiry into Australia’s biodiversity in a changing climate.
Additional investment and greater urgency is required to establish a national program of research, monitoring and plain-speaking reporting on the benefits provided to the community and economy by ecosystems and biodiversity
“Unless this is done the effectiveness of public policy will be called into question, the development of market-based solutions will be hamstrung and governments will dishonour the community’s commitment to repairing our country.”
Dr Sinclair said Australians needed to know more about biodiversity loss in order to help halt the decline.
“There’s plenty of scientific evidence that Australian biodiversity is already struggling to cope with climate change. Scientists know climate change is bleaching coral, changing fire regimes and stressing drought-stricken eucalypts.
“But it’s very hard for many Australians, especially those who live hundreds of kilometres from coral reefs or intact bushland, to see these impacts.
“With better understanding, Australians can demand their leaders protect the places and species they love before it’s too late,” Dr Sinclair said.
ACF has welcomed the federal government’s announcement today of 317 projects that will receive funding from the Biodiversity Fund with revenue raised by the carbon price.
The projects, across the country, aim to revegetate, rehabilitate and restore landscapes, re-connect important habitats, reverse biodiversity decline and establish areas of carbon storage.
“Climate change threatens to smash our natural environment unless we do more to look after it,” Dr Sinclair said.
“Using money from Australia’s price on pollution is a great way of helping people who are helping nature store carbon and sustain our wildlife and landscapes.”