Statement on NSW Scope 3 Emissions Bill Inquiry Report

The NSW Upper House Planning and Environment Committee has recommended rejection of a NSW Government bill on coal mines and their downstream, or ‘scope 3’ greenhouse emissions.

The Committee’s report finds that “considering downstream greenhouse gas emissions supports international agreements aimed at reducing emissions and combating climate change”, including the Paris Agreement ratified by Australia and endorsed by the NSW Government.

“This is a scathing report which recognises that NSW is responsible for far too much of the world’s coal emissions, and bears a local and global responsibilities to help reduce them,” said Tom Swann, senior researcher at the Australia Institute.

“Australia Institute research shows NSW’s export focused coal industry is already responsible for more emissions than the UK or France and nearly four times NSW itself.

“Every tonne of heat trapping gas is raising the temperature and causing damage. The bushfire catastrophe NSW has just experienced occurred with just one degree of global heating, but exporting more coal puts us on track for 3 or 4 emissions.

“We cannot solve climate change while building new mines, but as the NSW Government itself notes, deep cuts in emissions are possible with strong economic growth.

“The NSW Berejiklian Government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and net-zero emissions means it should be doing more to reduce coal emissions, not trying to do less.

“While the Government dissenting report states the bill would not prevent consideration of exported emissions, this bill is just a first step to giving the coal industry what they want, as the NSW Minerals Council themselves explained to the Committee.

“Combined with plans to make the Independent Planning Commission less independent, this bill could allow the government to prevent consideration of exported emissions.”

Background

  • The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Territorial Limits) Bill 2019 would remove the long-standing requirement for planning decision-makers to consider downstream emissions, including those embodied coal exports. It would also prevent conditions on projects relating to impacts overseas, or impacts on NSW caused by things that happen overseas. 
  • The Bill was introduced before the climate-driven bushfires last year but has been put forward for a vote in either house of NSW Parliament.
  • None of the submissions or evidence supported the Bill unequivocally, however the NSW Minerals Council sate

Key Comments from Committee Report

2.97 The committee is alarmed that this bill is being considered at a time when New South Wales is reeling from the impact of devastating bushfires and prolonged drought. The committee was particularly moved by evidence of the impact recent bushfires had on local communities. We note the broad ranging impacts of climate change that are predicted and currently being felt, including through bushfires, drought and public health impacts.

2.98 The committee shares the deep concerns of the thousands of stakeholders who provided submissions and strongly believes that immediate, sustained and global action is necessary to reduce climate change and its effect on populations and the environment. Burning of fossil fuels directly contributes to climate change and Australia, and in particular New South Wales, is already responsible for too much of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from burning of fossil fuels.

2.99 … The committee believes that New South Wales has a global as well as a local responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. …

2.100 We do not accept that considering downstream greenhouse gas emissions in planning decisions goes against emissions accounting schemes under the Paris Climate Agreement. Instead, the committee believes that considering downstream greenhouse gas emissions supports international agreements aimed at reducing emissions and combating climate change.

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