3 November, 2016

Premier Baird’s zero emissions by 2050 target is welcome

New land clearing laws threaten to undermine positive efforts

The Nature Conservation Council welcomes the NSW Government’s commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the ambition of making NSW the leading state for renewable energy. [1]

“Today’s announcement is a positive signal that carbon pollution and climate change are now higher on the Baird government’s agenda,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“There are exciting opportunities that arise from a rapid and just transition from dirty coal to clean, renewable energy that will reduce the state’s climate pollution and generate thousands of new jobs.

“The Coalition has clearly signalled that it wants NSW to be a leading player in Australia’s renewable energy future, which will deliver benefits for the environment, for communities and the state’s economy.”

Ms Smolski warned, however, that gains from investment in renewables and energy efficiency could be negated if the Baird government permitted the return of broad-scale land clearing or the continued expansion of coal mining.

“Retaining native vegetation and strong land-clearing controls is critical if NSW is to meet the zero-carbon emissions target by 2050,” she said.

“We have seen already how expensive carbon emissions reductions strategies can be undermined by weakening land-clearing controls.

“The sweeping changes in regulation of native vegetation management that occurred in Queensland under the Newman government in 2012 resulted in almost 300,000 hectares being cleared in 2013-14. [2] 

“The carbon released from Queensland’s land clearing in 2012-2014 alone is estimated at 63 million tonnes, far more than was purchased under the first round of the ERF [3] at a cost to taxpayers of $660 million. [4]

“Taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab when governments can’t make their policies align. Premier Baird has a duty to ensure the Queensland debacle is not repeated in NSW, but he is now poised to introduce laws that will significantly increase land clearing in this state, to the detriment of our wildlife and the climate.

“If the government is serious about reducing the state’s emission, it must retain maintain strong land clearing controls and quickly transition the state’s power grid from coal to renewables.”

“We welcome the NSW Government’s commitment to the zero emissions by 2050 target, but we doubt that can be achieved efficiently if it allows a return of broad-scale land clearing.

“We are also sceptical about the government’s commitments to reaching the 2050 target if it does not provide interim targets.

“Too often politicians set targets in the distant future when they know they will not be around to be held accountable. Setting short term and interim targets is one way of keeping honest and on track.”


[1] NSW sets net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050 as Australian pollution climbs


[2] Land clearing in Queensland triples after policy ping pong


[3] Infographic: emissions reduction auction results at a glance


[4] Queensland land clearing is undermining Australia’s environmental progress





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