By Eve Sinton • Fossil Fool Bulletin 29 October 2019
Following an intense lobbying and advertising campaign by the NSW Minerals Council, the NSW government intends to prevent the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) from considering downstream climate emissions when assessing mining projects.
The government will move to restrict the IPC from considering the effects of “scope 3” greenhouse gas pollution when considering coal mining projects, with new laws introduced to parliament this week.
Scope 3 emissions are the greenhouse emissions produced when coal is burned at its final destination.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said, “The changes will restore NSW law and policy to the situation that existed prior to the Rocky Hill decision and will provide the mining sector with greater certainty.”
The mining sector was infuriated that Scope 3 emissions were mentioned – along with other social and environmental factors – in turning down Rocky Hill and KEPCO’s Bylong mine, and imposing conditions on United Wambo’s extension plans. United Wambo must only sell coal to Paris Agreement signatory countries.
Shameless capitulation to coal lobby
Lock the Gate NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said the legislation would be remembered by future generations as a shameless capitulation to the coal lobby that would harm communities in NSW.
“The government is capitulating to mining industry pressure and winding back laws to address the most important strategic, economic and environmental challenge of our century,” she said.
“This is a regressive and fatal mistake that will be remembered for generations.
“New South Wales is right now experiencing a severe and unprecedented bushfire season and one of the worst droughts on record due to climate change. There is so little time left to prevent the problem escalating beyond our control.
EDO: govt unwilling to grapple with facts
Environmental Defenders Office CEO David Morris greeted the 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.
“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,” Morris said.
The new Bill was introduced this week, but will not be debated until the next sitting day of parliament on 12 November.