Late last year, Australia’s nine environment ministers met to decide on new national air pollution standards for coarse particle (PM10) and fine particle (PM2.5) emissions.
Unfortunately, they adopted NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman’s weak proposal of standards for PM10 24 hour average (50 micrograms per cubic metre) and annual average concentrations (25ug/m3).
Victorian minister Lisa Neville promised that Victoria would commit to stricter PM10 standards and the Australian Capital Territory joined her. South Australia may join.
Commonwealth Environment Minister Greg Hunt who pledged ‘clean air is a signature objective of my watch’ was entirely silent on the matter of the new standards.
The new standards are a positive outcome from an otherwise bland meeting, which would not have occurred without the effort you made to make your voice heard on air pollution.
Since the ministers’ meeting, our team has been busy. We have:
- Analysed air pollution data from NSW – and found a pattern of non-compliance with these new standards.
- Attempted to obtain 2015 air pollution data Queensland and Victoria – not an easy task.
- Written to Australia’s environment ministers urging them to fully implement the new standards by revising pollution licences, monitoring air pollution, making data freely available, and ensuring compliance with the new standards.
- Prepared fact sheets to show how EJA can assist with legal support in a number of hotspot communities.
At a time when we’re seeing a reappearance of deadly Black Lung Disease among coal miners, it’s clear that self monitoring by industry just won’t work.
There’s a lot of work to do but, like you, we’re committed to the goal of achieving clean, healthy air for all Australians.
Yours for clean air
Clean Air Lawyer, Environmental Justice Australia
Dr James Whelan
Researcher, Environmental Justice Australia
PS: If you haven't seen it already, check out this hard-hitting video where ordinary Australians tell their stories of living with air pollution: