Author Archives: janegarcia04

Liberal/Nationals lack ambition needed for energy policy fit for 21st Century and reducing risk of climate change

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has decried the vacuum in national energy policy and the triumph of ideology over energy reform at the Smart Energy Summit in Sydney today.

Mr Turnbull departed from towing the Liberal/National line by asserting renewable energy could simultaneously deliver a reduction in dangerous carbon pollution and cheaper electricity for the nation.

NSW Greens Energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said, “The take-over of the Federal Liberal/Nationals by the hard right faction places climate deniers and big mining in the driver’s seat of energy policy in Australia and they are quickly accelerating towards a cliff of climate consequences.

“Malcolm Turnbull is dead right. We can’t afford to let ideology and idiocy get in the way of the ambitious energy policy needed to deliver a better future for people and the planet.

“Our weather, our water and all our planet’s life support systems don’t give a stuff about your opinion or ideology, they are governed by fact.

“The science is telling us we are approaching a global crisis where if we don’t get out of coal by 2030 then it will be too late to stop catastrophic climate change. The decisions our leaders are making today will determine whether we end coal in time or we risk danger or death.

“If the Federal or NSW governments can’t come up with a credible plan that keeps us safely under 1.5 degrees of warming, then they should step aside for leaders who can,” he said.

Speaking at the Summit earlier today, NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin talked up his government’s ‘aspirational’ goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 despite having no clear plan for achieving the target.

“The Liberal/National Government had squandered seven years without a strategic energy or climate policy for NSW. In that time, the state’s greenhouse gas emissions have grown and it is lagging right at the bottom in terms of renewables across the nation.

“Even the aspirational net-zero emissions target has no credibility with 11 new coal mines in the NSW planning pipeline and no end to coal in sight.

“The NSW Government bet and lost on the Federal government bailing it out with some kind of national energy policy. Now, it’s time for voters to have their say on the NSW Liberal/Nationals massive energy and climate failure and the polling suggests they’re about to be shown the door from NSW,” he said.

Guilty plea over water theft will do little to stop over extraction

NSW Greens Water Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has welcomed a guilty plea to water theft charges by a big irrigator but warned that legal over-extraction for cotton irrigation was leading to the demise of rivers and wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Mr Buckingham said, “It is good to see an actual prosecution take place for water theft, given that the NSW Ombudsman found that water compliance and enforcement was effectively stopped for many years under the NSW government.

“While this prosecution is welcome, it is the legal extraction too much water for cotton irrigation that is causing rivers like the Darling to die.

“Up and down the Murray-Darling Basin, there are many irrigators undertaking excessive or illegal water extraction secure in the knowledge the NSW Nationals will protect their vested interests over the environment or communities who rely on a healthy river.

“I join many landholders and communities along our rivers that have lost confidence in the ability of the Nationals to effectively administer the water portfolio for the good of all water users, not just their big irrigator mates and political donors.

“It’s also completely unacceptable that Water Minister Niall Blair now has new powers meaning he can retrospectively legalise illegal works and water thefts. This disadvantages irrigators who are doing the right thing and leaves the faucet open for attempts at undue or corrupt influence on the Minister.

“These illegal channels and dams divert a vast volume of flood water away from natural waterways and into irrigation storages, making a few greedy irrigators rich at the expense of our rivers.

“Water theft has real world consequences for the environment and downstream communities. While landholders and communities continue to struggle with drought and the impacts of climate change, the Nationals hold back the urgent action needed for healthy flowing rivers,” he said.

A new downstream weir for Wilcannia a positive step forward, but too long in coming

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has welcomed the state and federal governments finally committing $30 million to build a new downstream weir for Wilcannia, but said it had taken too long.

It should not take a tight state and federal election to get action for regional communities on water supplies, he said.

“I was first approached in 2014 by Wilcannia residents about a new weir for Wilcannia and I’ve been pursuing the government about the issue ever since. I’ve raised it in parliament at every opportunity, written to the Premier and the ministers, and educated the community about the great injustice and need for a new weir,” Mr Buckingham said

“A new weir and the weir pool it will create will provide, swimming, fishing, cultural and even small-scale irrigation opportunities for the people of Wilcannia.

“While the Wilcannia weir announcement is a good step forward, it will not solve the systemic problem of a lack of surface flows down the Darling/Barka river due to over allocation to upstream irrigation, mainly cotton.

“The Barkindji people tell me that the Barka is dying. The regular small and medium flows that came down the Darling through Wilcannia have stopped because too much water is being taken up stream.

“While the government is recognising the cultural values of the Darling River, it should facilitate the process to formally recognise the Aboriginal name for the Darling River – the Barka – with a dual naming through the NSW Geographical Names Board.

“The Greens are proud to represent the interests of the people of Wilcannia. They may be far away and isolated from Sydney, but I have made sure that their issues were raised in the parliament time and time again.

“The cynic would note that the government has finally committed money to the project only a few months before both state and federal elections are due. This is exactly why people should vote against the National Party. It’s only when they can’t take the Far West for granted that they pay any attention or grant any funding,” he said.

Greens welcome investment in NSW energy transmission infrastructure as opportunity for supporting new renewables

A fortnight after the Greens released its plan for eight renewable energy zones and upgrades to transmission projects in NSW, the State Government has today released its NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy.

The Greens have welcomed the four priority transmission projects identified in the strategy, including upgrades to the interconnectors with Queensland and Victoria, and a new interconnector with South Australia to enable renewable energy projects to connect to the grid and increase the resilience of the power network.

However, Greens MP and Energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said that with the end of the Federal Renewable Energy Target and no carbon price in place, additional and specific state-based policies were needed to provide the framework for renewable energy investment.

“The Greens strongly support new electricity transmission infrastructure for NSW to facilitate renewable energy, but we need the right policy framework in place to ensure provide the investment certainty for renewable energy,” he said.

“We are in a climate emergency which requires a rapid transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy and storage. This strategy is a good start, but we need more state-based policies to drive the transformation.  Victoria, Queensland and the ACT are all leaving NSW behind.

“The Greens want NSW to be a renewable energy superpower.  We have the solar and wind resources and the expertise, what we need is the political will and right policy settings that will bring jobs and investment to regional areas of NSW.

“We want support from all major parties for our plan to establish eight priority Renewable Energy Zones for NSW as part of a national plan to supercharge investment in large-scale renewables connected to new transmission infrastructure.

“NSW should prepare now for the major transformation in the energy grid over coming years as outdated coal-fired power stations reach the end of their life and new connections from wind and large-scale solar plug in. It’s a great opportunity to become a renewable energy powerhouse,” he said.

Science is in: Approval of new coal mines such as Bylong risks dangerous pollution and climate change

The NSW Government should update the terms of reference of the Independent Planning Commission to reflect the latest science and not allow the approval of any new thermal coal mines or mine extensions in NSW.

In the lead-up to the Independent Planning Commission Public Meeting on Bylong Coal Mine in Mudgee tomorrow, the NSW Greens have called on the NSW Government to also rule out the Bylong coal mine and any new thermal coal mines in the NSW planning pipeline.

The recent IPCC report warned the world must quit coal by 2050 and avoid tapping the vast majority fossil fuels for the best opportunity of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.

If approved the Bylong coal mine would be licenced to operate until 2044, producing 343.2 million tonnes of carbon pollution in its lifetime.

NSW Greens resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said the tight time frame for halting and reversing rising emissions means NSW cannot delay action.

“The NSW Liberal/Nationals ignore climate change at their peril,” he said today.

“The decisions made today will determine our fate. There should be no new coal mines or coal mine expansions in an era of worsening climate change, especially with the impacts of climate change so evident in the impacts of this severe drought.

“It would be negligent and irresponsible for the NSW Government to allow the Bylong coal mine proposal to go ahead.

“The Bylong Valley is rich in natural beauty, fertile agricultural land and significant water and river resources. These are the lasting legacy we want to leave future generations, not dangerous pollution and out-of-control climate change,” Mr Buckingham said.

Details
What: Independent Planning Commission Public Meeting on Bylong Coal Mine
When: 9am, Wednesday 7 November
Where: Parklands Resort and Conference Centre, Mudgee
More details:
https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/projects/2018/10/bylong-coal-project

📷: Lock the Gate Alliance

Federal Resources Minister Matthew Canavan ignores science that new coal mines risk fuelling catastrophic climate change

Federal Resources Minister Matthew Canavan should listen to the science and not give approval for any new coal mines or mine extensions for the best chance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.

The Minister donned the hard hat and visited the site of a proposed 135 megatonne extension of Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine this weekend, indicating support for more new coal mining in the Upper Hunter.

If approved the mine would operate over the next 30 years, producing 385 million tonnes of carbon pollution in its lifetime.

NSW Greens resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said Minister Canavan should not ignore the recent IPCC report that warned the world must quit coal by 2050 and avoid tapping the vast majority fossil fuels or risk catastrophic levels of climate change.

“Minister Matthew Canavan and the Federal Government can’t keep pushing their outdated, pro-mining agenda on communities like Boggabri and the Upper Hunter. The Liberal/Nationals ignore climate change at their peril,” he said today.

“The decisions made today will determine our fate. There can be no new approvals for thermal coal mines or mine extensions in NSW. Vickery coal mine must be retired and rehabilitated, not thrown a lifeline for more coal production and pollution.

“Australia is becoming like the big tobacco companies, we keep pushing a product we know isn’t safe or healthy out into the market, regardless of the risk.

“The vested interests of the mining industry have too much power and influence over our Federal and NSW Liberal/National politicians. They are making decisions in the best interests of big mining companies, not what’s best in the long-term for communities and our natural environment.

“There should be no new coal mines or coal mine expansions in an era of worsening climate change, especially with the impacts of climate change so evident in the impacts of this severe drought. It is negligent and irresponsible for the Minister to allow the Vickery coal mine proposal to proceed.”

📷: Northern Daily Leader

Tiny, last minute spend on ’emerging energy’ won’t fix govt’s lack of credible energy and emissions reduction policy

The NSW Government has today launched an Emerging Energy Fund that promises $55 million for gas and renewable energy, a figure the Greens have slammed as totally inadequate and  lacking the ambition needed to transition NSW towards 100% renewable energy.

The $55 million is totally insufficient when you consider the NSW Government:

  • Received $37 billion from privatising the state’s electricity assets since their election;
  • Received $4.1 billion for the transfer of Snowy Hydro to the federal government;
  • Underspent the NSW Climate Change Fund by $252 million between $2014-17;
  • Gave $70 million to the Greyhound racing industry;
  • Spent $87 million on advertising; and
  • Gave $100 million to the horse racing industry as a tax break.

The Emerging Energy Program represents just 0.14% of the $37 billion the government reaped from selling off public energy assets.

Greens Energy and Climate Action spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham labelled the Emerging Energy Fund nothing more than a fig leaf announcement that barely covered the fact NSW remained without a genuine, effective energy or emissions reduction policy.

“This is a damp squib of an energy policy from a Liberal/National Government that has neglected renewable energy and climate change for seven and a half years,” he said today.

“The community would recognise that $55 million is a drop in the ocean for the energy-system restructure that is underway and will not stop NSW from lagging behind other states on renewable energy.

“It’s just 0.14% of the $37 billion the government has reaped from selling off energy assets in NSW. It’s also miserly when you consider they underspent the climate change fund to the tune of $252.9 million between 2014-17.

“It miserly compared to the Victorian Government’s $1.24 billion scheme investing in rooftop solar alone or its substantial state-based Renewable Energy Target.

“This money could be spent on fossil fuels, with the emissions limit is set at 0.5 tonnes of CO2/MWh which allows gas projects, not just true renewable energy.

“What NSW needs is genuine investment with long-term support policies such as state-based Renewable Energy Target, a tax on carbon pollution and renewable power purchase agreements by the State Government.

“NSW should not miss out on the clean energy, lower power prices, jobs and economic growth from growing our share of energy from wind, solar and other renewables.

“I’m pleased the government has finally recognised that the shift away from coal to renewable energy is inevitable. Premier Gladys Berejiklian should have a conversation with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to to burst his delusions about building new coal-fired power stations in Australia.

“Renewables, energy and climate change will be at the very top of the agenda at the NSW and Federal elections. If this Liberal/National Government doesn’t stop the spin and get real on energy policy, it will find the community will vote for other leaders who will,” Mr Buckingham said.

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