Dire warning: New carbon targets will cripple NSW

The NSW economy will be "de-industrialised" and the state turned into the "sick man of Australia" under ramped-up climate change policies planned by the Berejiklian government, energy and policy experts have warned.

The new "ambitious" emissions reduction target, signed off by state cabinet, aims to slash the state's CO2 emissions by 35 per cent by 2030.

It will supercharge the current "aspirational" goal of zero emissions by 2050 - but policy experts fear the state government's intervention will cripple the crucial $10.7 billion coal mining sector and trigger job losses.

 

Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean is under fire for his emissions reduction target. Picture: Brendan Esposito
Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean is under fire for his emissions reduction target. Picture: Brendan Esposito

It comes as new Treasury figures released yesterday from updated budget papers showed royalties from mining - with the vast majority from coal - poured $2.09 billion into the state's coffers.

At the same time energy experts have also poured water on Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean's foray into climate change politics with his vision to turn NSW into the "Saudi Arabia of solar" by exporting renewable energy, panning it as "wishful thinking".

Federal Resource Minister Matt Canavan said the NSW government did not negotiate climate change agreements "so I'm not sure why state governments have all these distracting policies about targets they're not going to be able to meet".

"It's easy to say I'll do this is in 2050 because I won't be accountable for it," he said on 2GB yesterday.

"I don't think either the Queensland or NSW governments are going to be able to change the temperature of the globe any time soon."

 

Senator Matt Canavan. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Matt Canavan. Picture: Kym Smith

 

Institute of Public Affairs research director Daniel Wild.
Institute of Public Affairs research director Daniel Wild.

 

Institute of Public Affairs research director Daniel Wild said Mr Kean should explain what impact his "grandstanding will have on the global climate".

"Minister Kean's proposal will cause the deindustrialisation of the NSW economy and turn NSW into the sick man of Australia," Mr Wild said.

"NSW accounts for 0.000097 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

"The proposed emission reduction targets will impose significant and irreparable economic damage on NSW but will make no noticeable difference to the climate and destroy the 75,000 jobs that are reliant on the coal sector in NSW.

"The lights went out and Labor lost the 2018 election in South Australia when a similar policy was introduced in that state. The results in NSW will be exactly the same."

Mr Wild estimated more than 58,000 jobs in energy-intensive manufacturing had already been destroyed in NSW because of high and rising electricity prices.

Mr Kean said he would reveal the full climate change policy next year, but claimed his policies would put NSW "at the centre of a new global order on electricity" and the transition to net zero emissions would require "trillions of dollars investment in the energy system alone".

 

‘The idea to cover the Northern Territory with solar panels and export it to Singapore and Jakarta is just absurd.’
‘The idea to cover the Northern Territory with solar panels and export it to Singapore and Jakarta is just absurd.’

 

He denied that adopting tougher greenhouse gas cuts would hurt the economy and be anti-coal.

"Coal will continue to be an important part of the NSW economy for decades," he said.

"In fact, we will be investing in the development and commercialisation of technologies that reduce the emissions from mining so that, in economies that are decarbonising, our minerals continue to out compete those from other countries."

He also touted hydrogen as an area where the state could lead the world in production.

But Energy Policy Institute of Australia executive director Robert Pritchard said plans for NSW to be the "Saudi Arabia" of exporting solar and hydrogen energy were "rubbish", considering the economic feasibility and transport costs.

He said it was uneconomic to store electricity for export.

"Their first difficulty is knowing whether total global decarbonisation will actually improve the global climate," he said. "We all hope it will but we don't know by how much - or by when. The whole thing is ridiculous, the idea to cover the Northern Territory with solar panels and export it to Singapore and Jakarta is just absurd."

Economist Alan Moran said Australia's great traditional advantage was in low-cost coal-generated power.

"We have been undermining this through discouraging investment and subsidising intrinsically high cost and irregular wind/solar, so much so that the wholesale electricity cost that was only $38 per MWh in 2016 has now risen to $90 per MWh," he said.

Mr Moran said further emissions reductions would mean higher power prices.



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