New South Wales is projected to miss its emissions reduction target as legislated by the state government, according to the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Data recently published by the department predicts that the state will have reduced its emissions by 44 per cent compared to 2005 levels in 2030, falling just short of the legislated target of 50 per cent.

The projection is based on current abatement policies and progress, which has so far fallen short of the levels originally planned when the policy was legislated six months ago.

Source: NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

Member of the Legalise Cannabis Party Jeremy Buckingham called the newly released figures “an alarm bell everyone in NSW needs to pay attention to”.

What is the current emissions target?

The Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Act 2023, which was passed on December 11 last year, mandates that the state government achieve a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 50 per cent by 2030 and 70 per cent by 2050.

The act also established an independent body called the Net Zero Emissions Commission to review and report on the state’s progress.

Cooper Riach is a Member of the Board of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre and said the Emissions Reduction Target is a step in the right direction.

“NSW wasn’t doing very much in terms of emissions reduction [when it was introduced]. But of course, setting targets and meeting them are two separate things entirely,” he said.

What does the Data reveal?

According to the Net Zero Emissions Commission, which is responsible for compiling the data, the largest source of greenhouse emissions in NSW is electricity generation, followed by transport, agriculture and mining.

Source: NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

What has the government done since?

Since its passage, the state government has implemented policies such as the Decarbonising Infrastructure Delivery Policy which promises to ensure upfront carbon emissions generated during the production of materials and the construction of infrastructure is a key consideration across all infrastructure project stages. However, this policy will only come into effect after a 12-month transition period.

The government has also pledged to invest $23.8 million towards cutting emissions.

However, the state government has also approved the expansion of multiple coal mines across the state. The new plan, set to keep the Hunter Valley coal mining complex active, is projected to release 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere between now and 2050 if it goes ahead.

The government has also approved a two-year extension for the operation of Eraring Powers Station, the largest coal-fired power plant in Australia when it was previously expected to close by next year.

“My support to this government depends on them being serious in their action on climate change … They cannot continue to approve new coal and gas projects and they have to act to address the backwards slide in our greenhouse gas targets,” Mr Buckingham said.


Is the Data even accurate?

The published data concerning greenhouse emissions may not even be accurate as a recently released report from the International Energy Agency found that Fugitive Gas emissions from NSW were significantly higher than what was being reported.

The report found that methane emissions from coal mining were likely 81 per cent higher than what was reported, and emissions from the oil and gas sector were 92 per cent higher than reported.

“Companies operating these sites are only required to self-report their emissions so there’s the question of whether or not they’re fudging the numbers or deliberately choosing to underreport their emissions,” said Mr Riach.

“If the actual levels of fugitive emissions are double what is actually reported then that completely throws off the NSW government’s target and the pathway to meet that target.”