Nature & Wildlife


Carbon Emissions in NSW

 In 2016 the NSW Government committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The first stage of action, laid out in the document Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030, aimed to fast-track emissions over the next decade to achieve a 35% reduction by 2030 compared with 2005.

This suggests the NSW Government is on the right climate track, with plans considerably well in advance of the climate action averse federal government. However, NSW’s emissions reduction achievements in this area will be compromised by the expansion of fossil fuel developments.

Since March 2018 the NSW Independent Planning Commission has approved eight coal and gas developments in NSW – four Hunter Valley coal mines, two coal mines in the Illawarra, one coal mine in the north-west of the state and the Narrabri Gas Project. The majority have approvals to operate into the 2040s.

Lock the Gate commissioned a new analysis of the emissions from these projects which found they would emit 89 million tonnes of operational emissions over their lifetimes.  These are emissions produced locally from the mining process as well as from fugitive emissions and not the much larger Scope 3 emissions produced when the coal and gas are burned.

The analysis author, Griffith University Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe, said the projects appear incompatible with both the NSW declared goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and Australia’s commitment to the Paris agreement.       

Professor Lowe pointed out that NSW was taking good action on emissions with commitments such as getting most electricity from renewable fuels by 2030 and commissioning some storage projects to make better use of solar and wind energy.

He said, “But it’s a bit dishonest to be cleaning up your house but dumping your garbage on the street.”

The 89 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions from the eight developments are similar to the emissions the NSW Government hopes to avoid from now until 2030 through its renewable electricity commitments.

If the NSW Government is serious about net zero by 2050 there should be no further fossil fuel development approvals.

Leonie Blain