Climate Change

The Greens NSW recognise that climate change impacts many aspects of modern life and must be addressed across many policy areas. This document outlines the Greens multi-faceted approach to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and creating a prosperous low-carbon society. Over-arching principles and aims are followed by references to other policies that detail Greens NSW approach.

Principles

The Greens NSW believe that:

1. Human induced climate change poses the greatest threat to our world, and urgent and sustained local, national and global action is required now to ensure a safe climate.

2. Climate change threatens all aspects of modern life. It is already contributing to disruption of human societies through changing weather patterns, extreme weather events, desertification and sea level rise.  It threatens food security, water, the economy, social cohesion and the well-being of humans and other living things. Impacts will escalate, putting increased pressure on natural resources and consequent impacts on our ability to satisfy basic human needs. These impacts will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our society.

3. There is an urgent need to both reduce emissions to limit the severity of climate change and to proactively plan for a more hostile climate.

4. The scientific evidence is unequivocal. Average world temperatures are increasing. This is mainly due to an increase in human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane.

5. The economic, social and environmental consequences of delaying action are so dangerous that immediate action is needed. Drastically  reducing emissions by 2025 with a plan to reach net zero emissions by 2040.

6. NSW is a wealthy state and ideally placed to take a lead in addressing climate change rather than being one of the largest per capita contributors.

7. NSW should recognise that climate change presents threats of serious and irreversible damage and should take appropriate action, in accordance with the precautionary principle, to mitigate and respond to such threats.

8. Climate change is an environmental, economic, moral and ethical issue. Future human generations, and other species, must not be burdened with the dire consequences of this generation's inaction in preventing climate change.

9. Climate change necessitates a transition away from an economy reliant on unsustainable consumption and production of greenhouse gases. We need to plan a transition to a more sustainable and equitable society.

10. NSW is ideally placed to address climate change and to contribute solutions in many areas, particularly given our ability to innovate and our research capabilities and these efforts must be supported as a priority.

11. Mining, export and domestic use of fossil fuels contribute to climate change and must be phased out as a matter of urgency.

12. NSW has the capacity to ensure that our energy supply and land transport needs can be provided by renewable energy.

13. Short lived climate pollutants (incl. methane, nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides, hydro fluorocarbons and black carbon) have an enormous short-term impact on global warming. Drastically reducing emissions of these pollutants will have a dramatic impact in the transition to a safe climate.

14. Agriculture and the production of foods and fibre contribute to climate change. They must both adapt to the impacts of climate change and adopt more sustainable practices to reduce emissions.

15. While the first priority is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, environmentally appropriate withdrawal methods of these gases can also contribute to achieving long term goals.

16. Thousands of new jobs, particularly in rural and regional areas, can be created by prioritising investment in low carbon technologies.Similarly, thousands of jobs can be created in adapting urban and regional centres to meet the challenges of climate change.

17. The costs of transitioning to a low-carbon economy must be fairly distributed across society, minimising the adverse impacts on communities that are at the leading edge of change and on those who are most disadvantaged.

Aims

18. Reduce atmospheric CO2 equivalent levels below 350ppm and limit the global average temperature increase to 1.50C above pre-industrial levels or less in keeping with Australia’s ratification of the Paris Agreement.

19. Build support in the community for urgent action to achieve a safe climate.

20. Develop a strategy to effect an equitable transition to a sustainable net zero greenhouse gas economy through a range of measures including market and regulatory, including a price on carbon.

21. Support the strategy with a well-funded, comprehensive, integrated and research-based emissions reduction plan with appropriate targets and reporting for all sectors with significant greenhouse emissions.

22. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in NSW by a minimum of 50% of 2000 levels by 2025, 80% by 2030 and to net zero emissions, by 2040.

23. Achieve 100% clean renewable electrical energy in NSW by 2030.

24. Achieve sufficient renewable energy capacity to power land transport, including passenger and freight rail

25. Implement the strategy in conjunction with other governments, national, state and local, and in consultation with local communities.

26. Implement emissions reduction strategies as outlined in the relevant Greens NSW policies of Energy, Transport, Planning and Infrastructure, Coal and Coal Seam Gas, Forestry (in development), Coastal Management and Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Land Use and Waste.  (see links at the end of this document).

27. Introduce a ban on donations to political parties or candidates from any person or corporation with a commercial interest in any aspect of the fossil fuel industry including mining, transport, electricity generation or distribution.

28. Ensure that impacts and opportunities are spread as fairly as possible across society with assistance to those at the leading edge of change and those who are most disadvantaged.

29. Plan to both avoid displacement of people in NSW due to climate change and to equitably meet the needs of displaced people.

30. Fund research into the local impacts of climate change and methods to minimise their impact.

31. Engage in consultations with local communities, about local impacts and how to address them.

32. Call for proactive assistance to other nations, particularly in our region, to create safe climate economies, and adapt to climate change through appropriate technology transfer and other forms of assistance, including resettling and rehousing displaced populations where required.

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Outline of other key Greens NSW policy responses (in alphabetical order)

In responding to climate change, the Greens NSW are working towards: 

Air Quality

  • Requiring polluters to contribute to the health and environmental costs of their pollution, with pricing mechanisms for all air emissions that reflect the full environmental, ecological and health costs of major air pollutants.
  • Introducing extensive air quality monitoring in all 'hot spot' areas, including locations affected by coal or other mining, vehicle emissions, wood smoke and airports.

More at: Air Quality policy

Agriculture

  • Assisting land managers to transition to sustainable, low-carbon-intensive farming techniques that reduce land, water and resource degradation.
  • Decreasing animal agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as land degradation, water use and pollution.
  • Reducing food miles and waste by encouraging locally grown produce.
  • Banning broad-scale native vegetation clearing on agricultural land.

More at: Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Land Use policy and Animal Welfare policy

Biodiversity

  • Creating secure reserves, linked by corridors, across all bio-regions and land tenures, including the estuarine and marine environments, capable of maximising habitat protection for the nation’s biological diversity and permitting the ongoing biological functioning of populations, including their evolution and adaptation during a period of rapid climate change.

More at: Biodiversity policy

Coal and Coal Seam Gas

  • Opposing all new coal and coal seam gas exploration, production and infrastructure.
  • Phasing out the fossil fuel industry and replacing it with a jobs-rich, clean energy economy.
  • Providing support for communities reliant on the fossil fuel industry to transition to clean energy alternatives.

More at: Coal and Coal Seam gas policy

Coastal Management

  • Ensuring town planning and coastal zone management takes into full account sea level rise predictions.
  • Prioritising public funding for communities who responsibly plan through their local governments over private developers that have ignored sea level rise predictions.

More at: Coastal Management policy

Economy and Industry

  • Supporting the development of an industrial base in clean energy technologies, public transport, high efficiency equipment and other sustainability technologies
  • Developing new, high quality manufacturing and maintenance jobs in clean energy and public transport.
  • Removing incentives and subsidies for fossil fuel mining and use in energy intensive industries.
  • Strengthening legislative and financial disincentives to substantially reduce industry pollution and environmental damage resulting from the exploitation of fossil fuels.

More at: Industry policy

Energy

  • Transitioning NSW to an electricity system based on 100 percent renewables within 15 years.
  • Reforming energy policy and investments to encourage a decentralised system based on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
  • Provide financial support and employment opportunities for communities and workers who have traditionally derived income from fossil fuel operations.

More at: Energy policy

Planning and Infrastructure

  • Planning must respond to the demands of increasing urban development, the need to protect fragile environments, the challenge of climate change, and the overriding right of citizens to participate in decisions which affect themselves, their local environment and the planet.
  • Planning must give primacy to Ecologically Sustainable Development principles, which strengthen environmental and social considerations in the decision-making process.

More at: Planning and Infrastructure policy

Regional Development

  • Encouraging the manufacture of renewable energy plant and materials such as wind turbines and solar panels in selected regional areas.
  • Linking regional towns to major urban centres via high speed rail, and freight train routes.

More at: Regional Development policy

Social Equity and Housing

  • Making funds available for the planning and initiation of ecologically sustainable industries particularly aimed at generating employment in disadvantaged areas of NSW.
  • Supporting initiatives for low income households that reduce housing-related living costs, such as improved energy efficiency and renewable energy.

More at: Social Equity policy and Housing and Homelessness policy 

Strengthening the Public Sector

  • Opposing privatisation of any aspect of the electricity industry to ensure that the public has control over all aspects of electricity generation, including environmental performance and transitioning to clean energy sources.

More at: Strengthening the Public Sector policy

Transport

  • Banning the construction of new motorways and redirecting funding to public transport infrastructure.
  • Prioritising substantial investment in public transport, including the development of a high speed rail network on the East Coast of Australia.
  • Supporting the development of high-efficiency vehicles e.g. electric cars powered by solar energy.
  • Reducing the carbon intensity of freight transport by prioritising the use of rail, maritime transport and non-articulated trucks running on renewable energy.

More at: Transport policy

Urban Design

  • Supporting sustainable building principles including in relation to energy supply and conservation.
  • Encouraging local waste minimisation, water conservation and decentralised energy generation such as rooftop solar.
  • Ensuring town planning facilitates and encourages the use of public transport.

More at: Environmental Impact Assessment policy and Planning and Infrastructure policy

Waste Elimination

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production and disposal of non-renewable materials by encouraging consumption avoidance, product and packaging re-use, and organic and non-organic material recycling and composting.

More at: Waste Elimination policy

Water (Urban)

  • Prioritising of water efficiency and recycling measures at a household, commercial and government level.
  • Ensuring that energy-intensive water-extraction measures such as dams and desalination plants are a last resort to securing urban water supply.

More at: Water (Urban) policy

Rural and Agricultural

Pricing water to take into account the full social, environmental and economic costs at each stage of the water cycle.

Ensuring that water efficiency, re-use and recycling is practised for all water that is extracted from river and groundwater systems

More at: Water (Rural and Agricultural) policy

Other policies that include points relating to climate change or related issues:

Arts and Creative Industries

Children and Young People

Consumer Rights

Genetic Engineering in Food, Crops and Pharmaceuticals

Marine Environment

National Parks and Wilderness

Tourism and Visitors

Wetlands