ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE NSW
The New South Wales Government has introduced legislation to prevent the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from Australian coal burned overseas. The move came just days after the Government launched a review of the Independent Planning Commission, following a sustained advertising and lobbying campaign by the NSW Minerals Council.
25 October 2019: The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Territorial Limits) Bill 2019 was introduced into Parliament on Thursday.
EDO CEO David Morris greeted Wednesday’s announcement of the legislative package as indicating “an unwillingness to grapple with the serious local impacts from Australian coal burned overseas.”
“A day after the Minerals Council gave evidence to ICAC that they were lobbying privately and publicly for changes to the law, the Government has capitulated, without regard for current or future generations.
“It doesn’t matter where Australian coal is burned, it’s Australian communities that are and will increasingly feel the brunt of a changing climate. The Government’s decision artificially carves out climate impacts from Australian coal on local communities – that is an absurd decision.
“In 2019, as the rest of the world rapidly phases out fossil fuels, we should be urgently planning for a just transition for coal and gas communities and a safe climate for our children. Instead, the NSW Government wants to make it law to ignore Australia’s most significant contribution to the problem - emissions from exports. It would appear that this Government’s only plan for addressing the climate crisis is to turn a blind eye.
“The most significant climate judgment in this nation’s history was based on scientific evidence. The Rocky Hill decision made it clear – emissions from Australian coal are not something that happen ‘over there’, they have a deep and lasting impact here at home. That’s why we have to take responsibility for those emissions, and it’s appropriate our laws reflect that. A decision to remove that requirement would be a retrograde step and inconsistent with a science-based response to managing climate change.
“The greatest trick the Minerals Council has played is to hoodwink us into thinking that our export of fossil fuels has no effect locally. That is wrong. It is not based in science.
“As Professor Will Steffen said in the Rocky Hill case, “it is one climate system”. Because of that, burning NSW coal overseas impacts communities here at home. It defies logic that in a time of severe drought and bushfires, a political party claiming to be for and from the bush would legislate against consideration of climate impacts from Australian coal on our communities. Perhaps they don’t think the impacts of climate change on NSW communities matter. Perhaps they don’t accept the science. In either case, it is an indictment on the Government.
“The beauty of the Rocky Hill decision was its basis in science and fact. The appalling thing about the Government’s decision is that it’s based on pure politics and self interest.”