Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 It has been blamed for a multitude of environmental problems, including acidification of 2000 of Sweden's 9000 lakes, with 4000 said to be totally devoid of fish life. In Norway, the situation is considered to be even worse, with 80% of the lakes and streams in the southern half of the country being technically dead. In the Federal Republic of Germany, acid rain has been identified as one of the prime causes of tree death which currently affects some 54% of the country's forests. In fact, the Taj Maha1 in India and the Statue of Liberty in the United States are both under threat from airborne acids. To date, we have been fortunate in this country and the problem of acid rain has not been perceived with the same degree of concern in Australia as it has in the northern hemi sphere. Thi sis primarily because our current rate of emissions is relatively small in comparison with that of northern hemisphere countries and our geographic isolation from other heavily industrialised countries ensures that long distance transport of acid pollutants is not occurring. By far the highest source of pollutants contributing to acid rain is coal-fired power stations and industrial plants employing .fossil fuel s, together with motor car exhausts and thermal power stations. Northern hemisphere countries are taking stringent measures to reduce the emi ss i on of these po 11 utants. The European commun i ty has ca 11 ed for a 30% reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions by 1993, and reductions of 60% in sulphur dioxide emissions and 40% in nitrous oxide emissions by 1995. While the overseas trend is for a reduction in the level of these pollutants, the situation is quite different in Australia. Unless we take action to reduce these pollutants now, we may find that our sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions will approach or exceed those of countries such as the United States and Canada within the next 20 years. As a matter of interest, the natural acidity of our rainfall in tropical areas is quite high as a consequence mainly of organic acids. The Austral i an and New Zealand Envi ronment Council meeting of 3 March will consider the development of a national greenhouse strategy for Australia. It has been somewhat of a surprise to find that that conference will continue, given that we are currently in a federal election campaign. However, I am advi sed that the federal government intends to breach yet another Westminster par1 iamentary convention and hold mini steria1 council s even though the parliament has been prorogued. We will attend that conference because we have a real concern about this issue. Howev~r, meet i ng with the representative of the federa 1 government in the mi dd1 e of an election campaign places all state representatives in a very invidious position because of the convention that no significant decision should be taken during the course of such a campaign. Nonetheless, we will be attending and I hope to report further to the Assembly on the development of that strategy. At the international level, global warming is being addressed by the Inter-governmental Panel on C1 imate Change, known as the IPCC, which was established by the United Nations. Energy Program and the World Meteorological Organisation and recognised by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. The Noordwijk Declaration on Climate Change and support i ng conference papers are bei ng conveyed to the IPCC for further consideration and action. Honourable members should note, however, that the options for action to reduce the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases can involve either reducing the release of those gases from their source and or i ncreas i ng sinks or natura 1 stores for the gases. The effect of both these measures is a net reduction in emissions. There is 8762
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