New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Albert Breton, Giorgio Brosio, Silvana Dalmazzone and Giovanna Garrone
Chapter 2: Australia: Preserving Biodiversity and Managing Water Resources
Jeﬀrey D. Petchey 1. INTRODUCTION Australia is a vast, dry continent with a fragile ecology. European settlement, with the associated farming and economic practices, is only two hundred years old, yet the landscape has changed beyond recognition from the one which greeted the ﬁrst Europeans. Much of this change has been for the worse. Australia now faces environmental challenges, mainly to do with threats to biodiversity (for example the threatened extinction of many endangered native species) and management of a limited water supply in the face of a growing population, partly due to continued immigration. The aim of this chapter is to provide a selective analysis of how Australia is responding to these challenges and to draw out implications for environmental policy in regional unions of States such as the European Union (EU). The outline is as follows. Section 2 provides an overview of the assignment of environmental policy, constitutionally, and in practice. The discussion here examines trends in centralisation and inter-governmental cooperation. It also examines why Australia has adopted a cooperative approach to environmental issues. Section 3 examines international assessment of Australia’s environmental performance using the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) published by the Yale Centre for Environmental Law. Here the conclusions are that Australia scores very highly overall on environmental issues, certainly much higher than major European countries such as France, Germany, the UK and Italy, but has a particular problem with biodiversity and water supply. These results are well known in Australia and have been the focus...
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