NSW Must Stop Land Clearing and New Coal Mines to Meet 2050 Emissions Target

We welcome the Baird Government's 2050 net zero emissions target announcement and we call on the Government to put an end to land clearing, and to veto approval of new coal mines in NSW. 


Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 10:42 :43 ): I continue my second reading speech on the Climate Change Bill 2016 on behalf of The Greens. To reiterate, the aim of this bill is to set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to facilitate the Government's development of strategies, policies and programs to meet those targets and to adapt to the effects of climate change; to promote transparency and accountability by facilitating the provision of accessible information about the effects of climate change on people, communities and ecosystems across the State; and to encourage the local government sector, the private business sector and the wider community to take action to address climate change.

Since the discussion started on climate change and the need for a climate change bill in this place, the New South Wales Government introduced a plan which was reported as setting a net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050 as Australian pollution increases. The Greens welcomed the Baird Government's announcement that it would set a net zero emissions target by 2050 and allocate money to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy. This announcement shows that the Government has been listening to the calls by The Greens and by many groups and organisations across this State, across this country—in fact, across the planet—who have been calling for governments to take action in relation to zero emissions. But it is clear that much more needs to be done. In fact, a report on the New South Wales Government plan that was announced on 3 November made the comment:

There are no interim targets, such as 2030, at this point. Nor are there guarantees that policies promoting increased emissions, such as new coal mines or increased land clearing, will be blocked.

It is important to note that this announcement by the New South Wales Government, which looked as if the Government was attempting to address the serious impact of climate change on our communities and our planet, lacked any commitment to shedding the dinosaur attitudes towards energy and climate that we have seen for too long in New South Wales. A zero net emissions target will not be reached unless we deal with coal. Banning new coalmines is an essential step if we are to truly reach that goal. We need a State-based renewable energy target, and to formulate a concrete transition strategy away from the fossil fuel industry and into renewable energy. If we do not have targets and if these things are not measured, they will not get done. That is a simple mantra that is repeated time and time again, because we know that it is essential if we are going to see any action to address dangerous climate change.

In this place, both sides—the Liberal-Nationals Government and the Labor Opposition—have refused to oppose the introduction of new coalmines. The Government's New South Wales Climate Change Policy Framework does not go anywhere near far enough towards ensuring the action that is needed. We need to see a respect for a whole-of-government approach to dealing with the issue of climate change. The Climate Change Policy Framework has been introduced in the shadow of the land clearing laws being introduced by the Minister for the Environment. These laws will see millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted. There is a climate change catastrophe waiting to happen and this will propel climate change even more.

When the Queensland Government had the same open-slather approach to land clearing not that long ago, it resulted in the clearing of land the size of the Australian Capital Territory as well as the release of 35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This cancelled out 80 per cent of the abatements purchased by the Federal Government. I note that the Premier is in the Chamber. This Government is happy to talk the talk on climate change, but until targets are set and are measured, and until people, governments and the sectors are required to report on them we will not see the action needed. This Government is happy to talk the talk on climate change—to talk about renewables and zero emissions—provided it is not held to account on it. Although there are calls for people to be held to account and calls for targets to be set, that has not occurred. If this Government really cares about climate change it needs to drop the proposed land clearing laws. Instead, it would be setting strict renewable energy targets and looking at what all government sectors need to achieve in relation to climate change policy.

In conclusion, I recognise the incredible work that has been done by a number of organisations and groups that have been campaigning to ensure that members of this House do not forget the importance of climate change. This week Naomi Klein is visiting Sydney to receive the Sydney Peace Prize, which is yet another reason to remember that the push to ensure that our governments respond to the urgent need to address climate change is not one that is supported only by members of Parliament and by The Greens who stand with those communities but by a significant number of organisations. I recognise the support and the work done on this bill by Environmental Justice Australia, which worked on a proposal for a Victorian climate charter. The bill draws on their work. I also recognise the Environmental Defenders Office in New South Wales, which has contributed important advocacy for legal frameworks on climate change.

I also acknowledge a number of other groups that have campaigned consistently and assisted with support: the Climate Council; Solar Citizens; the Australian Youth Climate Coalition; Climate Action Network Australia; the Climate Institute; the Australia Conservation Foundation; the Climate and Health Alliance; the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research; 350.org; the World Wildlife Fund—Australia; Greenpeace; GetUp; Planet Ark; Clean Energy for Eternity; Farmers for Climate Action; one of everyone's favourite organisations, the Knitting Nannas; the Nature Conservation Council New South Wales; Lock the Gate; the Grassroots Community Climate Network; the Wilderness Society; the Sunrise Project; Doctors for the Environment; the Sutherland Environment Centre; Stop CSG groups across the State and throughout our country; Psychologists for a Safe Climate; and Front Line Action Against Coal. I also recognise two local initiatives in the Newtown electorate, the Climate Action Newtown group and the Green Living Centre. As the late John Kaye, MLC, said as the slogan in his 100 per cent renewables campaign, "This is possible, affordable and essential." I commend the bill to the House.


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