“There is a massive pipeline of coal projects in the works in NSW,” Nic Clyde from Lock the Gate Alliance (LTGA) told a webinar of around 250 people on November 9.
The webinar launched a new Coal Watch campaign and heard several climate activists discuss the challenges facing communities impacted by coal projects.
“The Chris Minns Labor government is following the previous Coalition in approving new fossil fuel projects,” Clyde said. “Meanwhile, NSW is in the top 5% of jurisdictions to suffer from the impacts of climate change, according to international research.”
A Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Bill 2023 bill, which includes climate targets and a new “Net Zero Commission” to monitor and report on progress, has been tabled by Labor. But Clyde said it does not acknowledge that “at least 12 proposed coal expansions, which if approved, would equal 15 times NSW’s annual emissions in their lifetime”.
One of the projects, the Hunter Valley Operations coal expansion near Singleton, is the single biggest coal expansion in NSW since the Paris Agreement came into effect in 2016, Clyde said.
Richard Dennis, representing the Australia Institute, said the major parties are “afraid” to confront the fossil fuel corporations.
“This country spends $11 billion a year subsidising fossil fuel companies. Yet, NSW receives only 3% of its state income from the coal industry.”
Bev Smiles from Mudgee Coal Alert said coal mining had been in her area since the 1980s. “The fact that the state government is still opening up new areas for coal exploration is gobsmacking.”
Smiles said the climate movement had had some wins against the coal industry, but mining companies are finding ways around the approval process and “the cumulative impact of expansion of existing and new projects is devastating communities”.
Angela Michaelis from the LGTA proposed a series of actions including joining the School Strike 4 Climate protest.
[Click here for more information on the Coal Watch campaign.]