Kiama council says no new coal

Kiama Municipal Council will sign an open letter to the NSW government calling for no new coal-fired power stations.

Greenpeace, who initiated the letter campaign, says the NSW government plans to approve two new coal power stations in Lithgow and the Hunter Valley. If built, they would spew over 20 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution into the atmosphere each year.

Kiama Deputy Mayor, and Greens candidate for Gilmore, Ben van der Wijngaart moved the resolution, which was carried only after Mayor Sandra McCarthy, an independent, used her casting vote in favour.

ALP councillor Neil Reilly said the council was gaining a reputation as being "an arm of the Greens Party" and said the council shouldn’t even discuss the resolution, the Illawarra Mercury reported on June 11.

Van der Wijngaart told Green Left Weekly: “Opponents of this resolution argue council should limit itself to 'rubbish, rates and roads'. But councillors had every right to support this resolution.

“The NSW government plans would set in place 30-year contracts that would guarantee a 17% increase in the state's emissions. Why on earth are we doing this when scientists are telling us we have a six-year window to rapidly reduce emissions and move to renewable energy?

“We will need to continue mining high-grade coking coal to make steel; this will be necessary for the manufacture of renewable energy infrastructure. But this only makes the switch to renewable energy generation from coal-fired power even more of an imperative.

“There will be plenty of jobs in the switch to renewables. From the early 1980s to the 2000s there were 14,000 jobs created in Denmark due to the construction and manufacture of renewable energy. In the same period Australia lost 16,000 jobs in the coal industry. In terms of jobs it's a no-brainer, we have a responsibility to articulate these views.”

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