Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 10 February 2022) . . Page.. 275 ..
respond to climate change. We declared a climate emergency in 2019. We have transitioned to 100 per cent renewable energy. We are rolling out the Sustainable Household Scheme and we are doing much more.
Given the devastating storms we have already had this year and the Black Summer bushfires, both of which have been canvassed extensively in these speeches, it is clear we all need to work to limit the impacts of climate change. There is currently no standalone right to a healthy environment in the international human rights treaties to which Australia is a party. However, in October last year the United Nations Human Rights Council made a declaration that the right to a healthy environment is a human right. The council called upon states to implement this newly recognised right and acknowledged the human rights impacts of climate change. The council also acknowledged that the most vulnerable people in the community are those who are most acutely impacted by climate change and environmental destruction.
While the Human Rights Council’s declaration is not binding, it nevertheless is an important statement. The ACT government’s commitment to considering the adoption of a right to a healthy environment is in line with the call for states to make explicit commitments to human rights based approaches. As a leading human rights jurisdiction, it is no surprise that the ACT will be pursuing cutting-edge human rights law.
I am pleased to update the chamber that the government has already taken steps to explore the implications of codifying the right to a healthy environment into our Human Rights Act. Last year Minister Vassarotti, as the Minister for Environment, and I worked closely to set the direction for how the government would consider this reform. Recognising that this has implications right across government, an inter-directorate committee has been convened. It will meet for the first time this month and on a monthly basis thereafter. The Justice and Community Safety Directorate has also commenced considering potential models and engaging with community stakeholders, and we will work with those that have been identified in the motion.
Following these discussions, the government intends to conduct a full public consultation on the right to a healthy environment later this year. I look forward to engaging with the Canberra community over the coming months on the right to a healthy environment and to sharing to the outcomes with the Assembly at the end of the year. I commend the motion to the chamber.
MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (3.59), in reply: Colleagues, thank you so much for your support for this motion today. It is really fantastic to see everybody coming together and supporting something that simply just needs to be done. We heard from Minister Davidson about how interconnected mental health and climate change are, and how big a problem climate anxiety is, particularly for our young people. We all know that one of the best antidotes to anxiety is action, so I think it is really good that we can take this action here but that we can also empower other people to see the steps that are coming and the role that they will directly have in the education and information, and accessing this right to a healthy environment.