States outshine national climate targets as conference nears

By Jackson Graham

October 1, 2021

Emissions targets for both NSW and Victoria outperform the federal government's.
Emissions targets for both NSW and Victoria outperform the federal government’s. (Rafa Irusta/Adobe)

NSW’s emboldened plan to cut emissions by 2030 has risen past the expectations of climate groups as the federal government wrangles over more ambitious targets.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state would halve emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, a bigger target than the 35% the government had hoped to achieve. 

“This is about putting the policies in place to give industry and investors certainty,” Berejiklian said.

“[It’s] not only to protect our planet but to future-proof our prosperity and way of life.”

The government’s net zero plan aims to encourage more than $37 billion worth of private investment in the state by the end of this decade. 

The target is similar to the Victorian government’s promise earlier this year to reduce emissions by 45% to 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

Both targets outperform the federal government’s current aims for emissions to drop 26% to 28% by 2030 on 2005 levels, yet a push among Coalition members could see more ambitious targets ahead of world leaders meeting in Glasgow in November. 

Climate groups have praised the NSW commitment but lamented the federal government’s targets.

“Regrettably, the leadership shown by state governments — including the NSW Liberal-National government — is not matched by the federal government,” Alix Pearce, a director at the Climate Council, said. 

Even then, the climate council says science shows Australia’s targets need to be far more ambitious, with a 75% drop below 2005 levels required by 2030 and net zero by 2035 to avoid “catastrophic” impacts to the climate. 

“Ratcheting up this target over time [in NSW] will be a pathway to more investment, cleaner and cheaper electricity and healthier communities in the state,” Pearce said. 

Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, which won a NSW Land & Environment Court case that ruled NSW’s EPA had a duty to act against emissions and climate change, said it expected NSW’s targets to be reflected in EPA policy. 

“Our members, who have been on the front lines of climate change, have been crying out for policies like this,” action group president Jo Dodds said.

“Now that NSW has shown what is possible, we’re looking to the federal government to step up its goals.”

NSW’s update to its emissions reduction goal came as the state also granted approval for the first stage of a $1.8 billion transmission line linking the state’s electrical grid with South Australia’s network. 

The 900-kilometre transmission line will skirt from Wagga Wagga to Robertstown in SA, with a spur line to Victoria.

NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said it was the biggest transmission project undertaken in Australia for more than 30 years. 

“To get to a low-emissions energy system our nation needs robust and reliable transmission infrastructure,” Stokes said.


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