Changing today for a sustainable future

The current decade has seen many successes through a challenging financial time globally. Most of the decade remains to be written, but producing transformative environmental and social change is ACF’s agenda.

Climate change

Climate change remained a central focus for ACF during the first half of the decade. Our strategic goals are to reduce Australia's pollution by 25% by 2020 as a minimum, to defend the price on carbon pollution, the CEFC and the renewable energy target.

The Climate Reality Project presenters, trained by Al Gore, have now provided personal presentations of Mr Gore’s famous slide show to over 300,000 Australians from all walks of life.

The 2010 ACF report, Funding the Transition to a Clean Energy Economy, led to the inclusion in the Clean Energy Future package of a Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) seeded with $10 billion – a critical institution to enable investors to play a part in Australia’s transition to a clean energy economy over coming decades. 

Australia’s new clean energy law, which passed through the Senate on 8 November 2011, was the result of decades of effort by countless Australians who have worked tirelessly for action on climate change. ACF’s efforts were pivotal and catalysed the formation and work of a coalition of nine environment and union organisations, Say Yes Australia, to amplify and coordinate the efforts for this action. We worked to ensure bipartisan committment to Kyoto 2, committing Labor and the Coalition to reducing green house gas emissions by between 5 — 25% by 2020. 

ACF has had to continue to defend these achievements 

By 2013, the CEFC had already invested around $1 billion. After the Coalition came to power in September 2013, the CEFC was ordered by the Treasurer to stop investing. ACF is currently supporting the CEFC with legal advice from senior barrister Stephen Keim on its legal mandate to continue to invest in clean energy.

In the last three federal budgets, ACF has secured changes to fossil fuel subsidies. We form part of the Paid to Pollute alliance, and we are engaging our members and supporters to contact MPs to express their opposition to fossil fuel subsidies. So far, the Federal Government has not changed its committment to the renewable energy target. ACF’s long-term work on tax reform resulted in a commitment from the Federal Government to reform the fossil fuel subsidy which cuts as much pollution as closing a small coal fired power station.

ACF has secured changes to fringe benefit tax laws requiring greater transparency on company car use and is continuing to work with the Federal Government to reform mining exploration subsidies.

Throughout 2012 and 2013 all major electricity companies have lobbied the Federal Government to reduce renewable energy targets. ACF has worked to expose this lobbying energy companies' lobbying and we have run a major campaign to protect the 20% renewable energy target.

Protecting country

In 2010, ACF worked with the Kimberley Land Council to support National Heritage listing of the magnificent West Kimberley. It is the first listing to proceed with the full consent of Traditional Owners and to recognise its cultural values, making this a truly historic announcement.

That same year, the creation of Alwal National Park, covering 42,000 hectares in central Cape York Peninsula, was turned over to be jointly managed by the Queensland government and Traditional Owner groups. Rinyirru and Kutini-Payamu National Parks were also transferred to Indigenous ownership.

Significantly, $23 million in Federal Government support for Cape York was announced in 2011. The package includes $20 million for the continued acquisition of properties of natural and cultural significance through the Cape York tenure resolution process and $3 million for community consultation towards a possible World Heritage listing for Cape York, with the consent of Traditional Owners.

The Koongarra area, long threatened by intentions to mine uranium, was instead added to Kakadu National Park. ACF had been working on stopping this mining lease since 1970.

In a campaign that was supported by the ACF community north and south, a billboard was erected in Melbourne to ‘Dump the dump’ at Muckaty in the Northern Territory

ACF also gathered the signatures of 2,700 concerned Australians petitioning against the radioactive waste dump. The Muckaty campaign continues.

Making the Murray mighty

The ‘Just Add Water’ campaign during 2010 rallied community support to purchase water on the open market to return environmental flows to the Lake Hattah wetlands in north-western Victoria. A whopping 400 million litres of water was returned to the lakes. ACF put a direct economic value of $14.5 million dollars per year for maintaining the Hattah Lakes in a healthy state with adequate water levels.

After decades of campaigning, ACF is continuing to put forward the case for repair of the Murray-Darling river system.  The Basin plan was finalised in 2012.

Tasmanian forests

In 2010, ACF broke new ground by helping to bring together conservation, forestry, timber, industry and unions to forge a unique statement of principles to protect Tasmania’s high conservation value forests, support workers in transition, and foster an industry based on plantations. A landmark agreement in Tasmania may end decades of struggle by protecting hundreds of thousands of hectares of precious high conservation value forests.

On 24 June 2013 a contested area of Tasmania's high conservation value forests were granted official World Heritage protection by the UN World Heritage Committee. A 170,000 hectare extension of the state's wilderness, including the wild eucalypt forests fringing its eastern boundary, now falls under international protection. This area includes parts of the Styx, Weld and Upper Florentine valleys and the flanks of the Great Western Tiers.

This development represents a globally significant conservation outcome and the resolution of the long running conflict over logging along the boundary of the existing reserve

Marine Parks Reserve and Sustainable Seafood

The largest marine parks in the world were announced by the Australian Federal government in 2012 and 2013. On 14 June 2012 the then Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, announced that Australia would establish a network of marine reserves in Australia’s oceans. The marine reserve network, when it is completed, will cover nearly 40 per cent of Australia’s oceans (excluding Antarctic waters). This will also include the existing reserves in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Macquarie Island, and Heard Island and MacDonald Islands and several others.

ACF has worked in partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney, to set up the Sustainable Australian Seafood Assessment Program, developing a project to identify sustainably sourced seafood to help restaurateurs, retailers and consumers wanting to make sustainable seafood choices. This project won the Victorian Seafood Industry Award in 2011, a first for a not-for-profit.

ACF plans to continue the efforts to protect landscapes and species and to inspire a commitment to sustainability

In this decade, to ensure ACF are tackling the root causes of environmental damage, ACF has developed innovative solutions for environmental tax reform, measures of wellbeing, sustainable cities, and sustainable population policies.

There were more successes in the 2010s including: