Revealed: recent NSW policy was ‘no policy’
IGNORING THE SOUR faces and disapproving words of the NSW Liberal Premier, and the federal Liberal Minister for Education, some 2,300 regional students together with family members and supporters marched in central Canberra last Friday. One teenager after another gave a rousing speech about the need for climate action in Australia and the shelving of coal projects like Adani. Now.
BACKGROUND — Around the WEB
• ‘We’ve been forced into this’: Australia’s school climate strikes to go global
• By Naaman Zhou, The Guardian
The middle of March saw an estimated 150,000 citizens around the country — young people walking out of schools together with supporters of all ages — urging the political class to stop risking their future with weak, or no action, to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions. Similar strikes were happening in countries around the world as many news outlets reported.
Students noted that 20 years of dissembling or frontal attack on the science and manipulated debate by politicians had seen carbon emission steadily rise, even as extreme events worsened. They saw their future in great jeopardy.
NSW had put climate action on hold
At the same time in NSW, with a state election looming within the week, it was reported that deliberate inaction on climate change had become the de-facto policy during the past years.
The Sydney Morning Herald report reveals that the NSW government had prepared climate change policies to decarbonise the state’s economy only to have the plans shelved when Gladys Berejiklian became Premier in 2017.
The paper reported that policies were proposed to “embed climate change consideration into government decision making”, with a whole-of-government approach.
Priorities for action were developed with advice from a government-appointed expert panel, the Climate Change Council. However, since Berejiklian stepped into the premiership, discussion between the council and the government had all but ceased, it was reported.
The Herald also reported that the NSW government had collected “almost half a billion dollars more for its Climate Change Fund via a levy on consumers than it has spent”.
In recent weeks the NSW government rediscovered some interest, pledging net zero emissions by 2050, without revealing the blueprint of how to get there and facing criticism that this is too slow.
In Monaro, Nationals and Labor, Greens and AJP talk climate response
The Deputy Premier and the National Party Member for Monaro John Barilaro has also emerged as a born-again renewable energy enthusiast. Although his National Party is still firmly wedded to a pro-coal policy, Barilaro now says that the NSW National Party supports the National Energy Guarantee and is at odds with the party’s federal representatives like Barnaby Joyce. People will decide for themselves how likely this is to lead to effective action.
Barilaro’s own record in office includes public denigration of wind energy and renewable generally (together with the federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor from nearby Hume electorate), gaining enthusiasm for nuclear power and in 2018 speaking up for a government take-over of the ailing coal-fired Liddell power station.
With a wide-open field, NSW Labor, under Michael Daley with Adam Searle (Climate) and Penny Sharpe (Environment), have grabbed the initiative with an ambitious energy system overhaul plan wedding renewable systems and new jobs. Half the state’s energy could be delivered from renewables by 2030. Our report, here.
The Greens are urging a wider blueprint including transport and communications (for example a renewed focus on state-of-art regional telecommunications to alleviate the need to drive) whilst the Animal Justice Party talks about the need to also address ‘carbon sinks’ ie stop chopping down the native vegetation and trees that soak up greenhouse gases.
IMAGES: Maria Taylor