Hands Off NSW Climate Laws

The fight to protect NSW climate laws has stepped up, with experts launching a statewide television commercial today to send Premier Gladys Berejikilian a clear message – don’t put coal over climate.

Under unprecedented pressure from the coal industry, the Berejiklian Government is moving to amend the NSW laws that require the full climate change impacts to be considered in the assessment of new coal mines.

Any changes to these laws would be a dangerous step of political interference and undermine the independent process used to assess the overall impact of new coal mines.

That is why today the Australia Institute – along with Australia’s most prominent climate experts and scientists – is launching a television commercial to promote our research and urge the NSW Government to drop its interference with these laws.

Changing these laws would not only undermine New South Wales’ standing in fighting climate change – it would send Australia backwards at a time when our reputation is already at a low point.

Currently, the NSW Independent Planning Commission considers the overall climate change impact in assessing new projects – including emissions from burning the coal (also called Scope 3 emissions) which are by far the main source of emissions from NSW coal. ).

Under pressure from the coal industry the NSW Government is looking to legislate changes that would frustrate decision makers reasonable attempts to consider refusal of projects on  climate change grounds- a dangerous move of political interference in independent planning decisions.

The fact is that NSW should be leading in this area – not taking backwards steps. The state is already experiencing serious impacts of climate change including increasing extreme heat and longer, hotter fire seasons – trends that will only continue by worsening climate change.

Today’s announcement comes on the back of 47 experts signing an open letter to the NSW Government urging them not to interfere with the existing process and to commit to real action on climate change.

QUOTES FROM PAUL STEIN AM QC, Former NSW Supreme Court Justice and former Judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW

“All New South Wales residents should be alarmed — this Bill is a dangerous and retrograde step which flies in the face of combatting global warming,” said Paul Stein AM QC, Former NSW Supreme Court Justice and former Judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW

“It is a green light to climate-change deniers within the Liberal/National Parties and will damage Australia’s already-lagging international reputation on climate.

“These decisions don’t just impact New South Wales – emissions don’t stop at state borders.

“These attacks on independent institutions – the Independent Planning Commission and the Land and Environment Court – are deplorable.

“These institutions ensure that decisions are made on the evidence and in the general public interest – they must be protected from political and industry interference.”

QUOTES FROM KEN THOMPSON, former Deputy Commissioner of NSW Fire Brigade, and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action member.

“The unprecedented bushfire conditions NSW is seeing today aren’t normal—or even the new normal. As long as we keep digging up and burning coal, and fuelling climate change, extreme weather danger will worsen, putting more NSW families in harm’s way,” said Ken Thompson, former Deputy Commissioner of NSW Fire Brigade, and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action member.

QUOTES FROM BEN OQUIST, Executive Director of the Australia Institute

“If the NSW Government is genuine about its own goal of Net Zero Emissions by 2050 it should abandon this legislation,” said Ben Oquist, Executive Director of the Australia Institute.

“In an age of accelerating climate change it is unconscionable for the Government to rush laws in that actually wind back protections against greenhouse pollution.

“Buckling to the coal industry like this sets a terrible democratic precedent.”