Greens move for 10 year phase-out of thermal coal mining in NSW

MEDIA RELEASE – 3 March 2017

Australian Greens Leader Richard Di Natale and NSW Greens energy and resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham will today launch a new policy to phase-out thermal coal mining in ten years with a bill that would set up a framework to limit further coal mining to one billion tonnes.

The policy is a framework for:

  • 10 year time limit for thermal coal mining in NSW
  • A limit of one billion tonnes of thermal coal production
  • A competitive allocation framework for companies to bid to mine coal under a reducing cap
  • Mining royalties go to a transition fund for workers and regional economies

Here is a brief on the framework and also the bill Jeremy Buckingham will introduce into parliament next week.

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said: 

“It is a scientific fact that we cannot continue to burn coal and protect the climate. We must act now before it is too late.

“We have run out of time. We are teetering on the edge of disaster and must act seriously now or we will lock in catastrophic levels of global warming with the significant environmental, economic and social disasters that will be caused by a changing climate.

“A transition away from coal is inevitable. The real question is whether we transition fast enough to protect the climate, and whether it is a managed transition, or a chaotic collapse.

“The Greens are being prudent in seeking to set climate policy according to the science and in setting up a market-based framework to implement a phase-out of thermal coal mining.”

Australian Greens Leader, Senator Richard Di Natale said: 

“Since we cannot rely on the federal Government to provide any meaningful action towards mitigating dangerous climate change, we have to rely for now on the states to provide the country with a 21 st century energy policy. That’s exactly what the NSW Greens are proposing to do with this policy of phasing out coal.”

NSW Greens launch framework for
10 year phase-out of thermal coal mining

Key points:

  • 10 year time limit for thermal coal mining in NSW
  • A limit of one billion tonnes of thermal coal production
  • A competitive allocation framework for companies to bid to mine coal under a reducing cap
  • Mining royalties go to a transition fund for workers and regional economies


A legislative framework to phase-out coal in ten years

The NSW Greens will introduce a bill into NSW Parliament which will set a ten year phase-out timeline with a total limit on the amount of thermal coal that can be mined in NSW.

The Mining Amendment (Climate Protection – Phasing-out Coal Mining) Bill 2017 establishes a framework for a managed phase-out of coal mining in NSW in order to protect the climate from catastrophic global warming.  Research published in the esteemed scientific journal Nature found that 90% of global coal reserves must remain in the ground if there is a 50% chance of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.  The Paris Climate Summit agreement set a target of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, with an ambition of limiting warming to only 1.5 degrees.

Phase-out trajectory

Under this bill, a maximum of one billion tonnes of thermal coal can be mined over the next ten years (no action would see 2 billion tonnes mined in this period).

mining-amendment-climate-protection-phasing-out-coal-mining-bill-2017

The framework implements a smooth phase-out trajectory over ten years.
The Mining Amendment (Climate Protection – Phasing-out Coal Mining) Bill 2017 legislates for the following timetable of maximum thermal coal production in NSW:

Year 1 180 million tonnes
Year 2 163 million tonnes
Year 3 145 million tonnes
Year 4 127 million tonnes
Year 5 109 million tonnes
Year 6 91 million tonnes
Year 7 73 million tonnes
Year 8 55 million tonnes
Year 9 37 million tonnes
Year 10 20 million tonnes
Year 11> 0 tonnes

The bill empowers the minister to implement a competitive process to allocate coal production under the caps. Mining companies would take part in a competitive auction to purchase the right to mine coal during the phase out period.

Export coal is a major contributor to climate change

Around 90% of Australian coal is mined for export.  Even if Australia shifted to 100% renewable domestic energy generation, our contribution to climate change through the mining and export of thermal coal would still be huge.

Last chance to act

The latest climate science and observations conclude that we are in a critical period for action on climate change.  If we fail to make the necessary changes to significantly reduce emissions now, then catastrophic climate change will be unavoidable.

While these measures may seem drastic, they are a bare minimum of what is required according to the science.  A less drastic phase-out of coal could have been possible if the world had started to act after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, or in the decades since.  However, successive governments have instead sponsored and approved a massive expansion of coal mining.

Without a phase-out plan, almost 2 billion tonnes of thermal coal will be mined in NSW during the next decade, and NSW Treasury forecasts that 9.2 billion tonnes of thermal coal will be mined by 2056.  Mining and burning this amount of coal will be a major global contributor to climate change.

A competitive auction for mining rights over the ten year phase-out period is expected to raise over $7 billion, a significant proportion should go to assisting workers and regional economies transition to a post-fossil fuel era.

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham will introduce the Mining Amendment (Climate Protection – Phasing-out Coal Mining) Bill 2017, into NSW Parliament next Tuesday 7 March.

 

3 March 2017

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