Re: Greens NSW response to the Bathurst Community Climate Action Network questions for candidates in the 2015 Bathurst State Elections.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on issues of concern to your organisation in the lead up to the 2015 state election.
I am responding in my capacity as the energy spokesperson for the Greens NSW. The below answers to your questions have been developed in conjunction with my colleagues David Shoebridge, Jeremy Buckingham and Mehreen Faruqi, who have responsibility for some of the issues raised.
A full list of the Greens NSW policies that include provisions relating to climate change can be found here: http://nsw.greens.org.au/policies/nsw
Do you consider climate change to be a serious threat? (Y/N) What State government policies would you advocate to combat climate change?
The Greens believe that climate change is the greatest environmental, social and economic challenge of the 21st century.
Governments at all levels must take urgent action reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions to minimise the damage inflicted by human induced climate change.
Since 37 percent of the state’s annual greenhouse gas emissions come from burning coal and gas to generate electricity, a key policy priority for the Greens is to decarbonise the state’s energy sector.
The Greens are pursuing an ambitious but essential timetable of phasing out all fossil fuel energy generation by 2030. To facilitate this transition the Greens are advocating for policy measures to significantly increase investment in the renewable energy industry. This transition will bring significant benefits to the state, including tens of thousands of new jobs and the chance to revitalise the manufacturing sector.
To read more on the Greens plan for a secure energy future for NSW, visit: http://nsw.greens.org.au/energy
In recognition of the scale and significance of climate change, the Greens have incorporated response measures throughout the majority of our policies. To read these policies, visit http://nsw.greens.org.au/policies/nsw
How would you encourage the uptake of solar energy by households, communities and small businesses in NSW and the local area?
The Greens strongly support an increase in uptake of solar PV panels by households, communities and small businesses. This is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, bringing down electricity bills and easing the pressure on the electricity network.
The Greens are advocating the following reforms to increase the uptake of solar PV:
The introduction of a retail-paid solar feed in tariff. Currently electricity retailers receive the power generated by rooftop solar panels for free and then on-sells it for a profit. A retailer-paid feed-in tariff is a sustainable pricing structure that acknowledges the relatively significant outlay the households make when installing a solar PV system.
The creation of public sector energy agencies to provide financial support and technical advice to households and small business and direct assistance to the low income and vulnerable;
A reconfiguration of the electricity network rules to allow households to become active participants, trading solar energy with their neighbours without prohibitive costs.
Virtual net metering to enable businesses and households to reap the economic and environmental benefits of off-site renewable energy generation.
The Greens do not support the lease of the state’s poles and wires as it will reduce the ability of governments and communities to support energy efficiency and decentralised electricity generation.
Read more: http://nsw.greens.org.au/energy
What steps would you support to phase out the mining, use and export of coal in NSW, and to facilitate a just transition to employment opportunities in renewable energy?
The Greens have announced a plan to phase out all coal exports by 2020, immediately ban new coal mines and exploration, and create a timetable to shut down all existing mines. The Greens would legislate to stop mine owners and exploration lease holders receiving any compensation.
We have also moved legislation (http://j.mp/100Renew) to phase out all fossil fuel electricity generation by 2030.
We are committed to just transitions for all affected communities, including retraining for the tens of thousands of new jobs in research, development, design, manufacturing, installation and maintenance in the clean energy economy.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/greens-call-for-all-coal-mines-to-close-in-nsw-20150207-138i76.html
Do you support coal seam gas exploration in NSW? (Y/N)
The Greens support a complete and permanent ban on coal seam gas (CSG). The risks to the state’s land, water, climate and communities are too great to proceed with this toxic industry.
Experience with Coal Seam Gas and other drilling activities suggests that no safe extraction technologies exist.
Interfering with the geological strata and the aquifer structures and bringing up methane and water contaminated with salts, heavy metals and hydrocarbons will inevitably damage the natural environment, human health and the viability of many other economic activities, including farming.
Further, developments in clean energy technologies, including roof top solar, high efficiency electric heat pumps and new induction technology cooktops, are rendering fossil gas irrelevant to the energy future of the state.
Cost effective alternatives across almost all gas applications are now available, removing any justification for a NSW-based CSG industry (http://j.mp/gasplan).
The Greens will continue to campaign in parliament and with the community to stop the coal seam gas industry.
Would you support State government legislation requiring local government to ensure minimum levels of tree cover and shading in regional cities and towns ? (Y/N)
The Greens support tree protection orders as they are an important tool to protect local amenity and biodiversity.
What would you do to restore wind energy investment in rural NSW?
The NSW government’s Draft NSW Planning Guidelines: Wind Farms have remained in draft form since 2011, creating yet more uncertainty for an industry whose growth is essential to the transition to 100% renewable energy.
The draft guidelines impose noise restrictions and planning constraints that are unfair and not justified by the scientific evidence.
Over $11 billion of investment in the wind industry with the potential to create nearly 4,000 jobs in NSW is at risk due to these draconian planning rules.
The Greens have moved legislation that would repeal the guideline and replace them with an effective and transparent planning process.
We would ensure that development applications are processed in a timely manner and are not subjected to unnecessary fees or restrictions based on un-founded health claims.
The Greens are also advocating for greater assistance for community ownership and co-investment models that reduce community opposition and distribute the economic benefits among local residents.
Do you support the proposal for the establishment of a National Park in NSW dedicated to koala conservation ? (Y/N)
The Greens support koala conservation across the whole state. A state-wide approach is essential as koala populations are under threat across the state from the Tweed to Bega.
The Greens have recently launched a plan to end native forestry, where many koala populations reside and the conversion of high biodiversity value areas into National Parks including Wedding Bells State Forest in the mid-North Coast and Tanja State Forest on the far South Coast.
The Greens would also establish a National Parks Committee to ensure there is a strategic approach to biodiversity conservation, including for koala conservation. Details of the Greens Forestry plan are available at: http://nsw.greens.org.au/protecting-our-forests-future and Environment Plan at: http://nsw.greens.org.au/national-parks
Travelling stock routes form a network across the entire country and help protect plant and animal biodiversity. Will you vote to keep them in public hands? (Y/N)
Yes. The Greens are committed to keeping the state’s network of Travelling Stock Routes in public hands. We have vigorously opposed attempts by the Coalition to sell them and will continue to do so as they are vital cultural and ecological assets. We have also introduced legislation to ban mining developments within 2 km of Travelling Stock Routes.
What would you do to support the expansion of dedicated cycle ways in rural cities and towns?
The Greens support cycling and believe there should be much more investment in cycling infrastructure around the state, including bike paths and separated bike paths where appropriate. The Greens NSW Transport 2020 plan would divert billions away from wasteful toll roads in Sydney towards public transport as well as active transport. This would include a 65 million dollar fund for key cycling infrastructure, including in regional NSW.
We have also announced a fully-funded $450 million grant to local councils to build bike paths, as part of our employment creation infrastructure package. See http://nsw.greens.org.au/news/nsw/greens-tackle-long-term-and-youth-unemployment
Do you support container deposit legislation? (Y/N)
Yes, the Greens currently have a bill sitting in parliament that would implement a container deposit scheme.
Whilst the Greens welcome news that the Coalition Government will introduce a container deposit scheme, another 2 years of continued waste will pass before it begins. A Container Deposit Scheme can stop plastic drink containers ending up in the oceans.
A Container Deposit Scheme has been in place in South Australia since 1977 and is being implemented in over 40 jurisdictions over the world. The model is already there, and it should be rolled out immediately.
Thank you for the opportunity to outline the Greens NSW position on the above matters. Should you require further information please don’t hesitate to contact me.Yours sincerely,