The NSW government has insisted there is a place for mining in the state’s economy under a new emissions reduction target, but others are pointing to the opportunities in moving away from the sector.
- NSW will aim to reduce emissions to 50 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030
- The government says that target accounts for growth in the coal industry
- There are calls to prepare mining communities for when the industry declines
The state has set a new goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, from 2005 levels.
It is a more ambitious target than that of the federal government, which is aiming for a 26–28 per cent cut by 2030.
NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean told Radio National that deeper cuts are required to reach the ultimate goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
He said those targets account for some growth in the coal industry, and were likely to have a net positive effect on job creation.
“The world is changing rapidly, and we need to prepare for that reality,” he said.
Mr Kean has taken aim at some federal Nationals MPs, who argue emissions reduction targets risk destroying local economies dependent on the mining sector.
“It’s great that Matt Canavan is selling Kodak cameras, but it doesn’t count for much when the iPhone is coming,” he said.
There have been concerns about the scale of the renewable energy projects slated for parts of regional NSW under the state government’s electricity roadmap.
But the chief executive of the Carbon Market Institute, John Connor, said the government’s new target means there is an opportunity to navigate those conflicts early.
“The transition’s underway because of the economics and the broader climate urgency,” he said.
He said farmers were also likely to benefit from a greater demand for carbon farming.
“We do have a good policy architecture of managing and measuring carbon reductions.”
“It’s not perfect but it’s world class, and we need to continue that.”
Coal emissions safeguarded
Tim Baxter, a senior researcher with the Climate Council, said the 50 per cent target did not rely on a reduction in emissions from the coal sector.
He said it appeared to be achievable off the back of prior commitments to boosting renewable energy and electric vehicles.
“For now, the share of NSW’s emissions that comes from leakage at coal mines is mostly left to the remaining 50 per cent of emissions,” Mr Baxter said.
The chairman of the Mining and Energy Related Councils NSW, Peter Shinton, said the government should act early to ensure mining communities are not left behind.
“I hope that [the government] is not going to let the coal industry flounder,” he said.
“We need some policies; we need to re-educate these people.”