NSW premier Mike Baird has been challenged by the NSW Greens to show the climate leadership ‘that is lacking in Australian politics’.
Byron shire-based MLC Jan Barham MLC yesterday introduced legislation to commit current and future governments in NSW to ‘strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change’.
Ms Barham, a former Byron shire mayor, said the Greens’ Climate Change Bill 2015 sets an emissions reduction target of net zero emissions by 2040, consistent with the level of action needed to limit global warming and avoid the most dangerous impacts.
‘The legislation requires governments to develop four-year plans for emissions reductions and climate change adaptation, and ensures that every department and council takes action consistent with addressing climate change, with legal action possible to prevent decisions and actions that would undermine the state’s action on climate change,’ she said.
‘This legislation is about the fundamental issue of getting all parties to agree that every government – current and future; federal, state and local – has a responsibility to their citizens and to future generations to address climate change,’ Ms Barham said.
‘Mike Baird can change the conversation by acknowledging that our state can make the transition away from fossil fuels and toward a zero emissions future, consistent with international agreements and the scientific evidence.’
The MP also said that a NSW Government submission to the federal consultation on post-2020 emissions targets, obtained under freedom of information laws, showed the importance of addressing climate change for the future of the state.
‘The NSW government’s own analysis recognised that without significant emissions cuts, climate change will have very significant impacts on farming, tourism, on communities across the state and on human health and emergency services,’ Ms Barham said
‘Despite knowing about the growing risks of climate change for more than 25 years, too many governments have squandered their opportunities to act.
‘Continuing with weak national targets will increase the threat to future generations unless the states take responsibility to act now.
‘Malcolm Turnbull has committed to maintain the weak and ineffective policies of his predecessor.
‘As it stands, Australia will be seen as a developed country that does not have the courage to make decisions in the best interests of its citizens.
‘Around the world, sub-national governments are stepping up to make a significant contribution on climate change and a Compact of States and Regions has been established.
‘This Bill presents the opportunity for innovation, and to ensure the health and well being of the environment and the people as we prepare for an uncertain future.
‘It is the fundamental responsibility of Government to prepare for threats to the welfare of their citizens. ‘
‘I’m calling on all parties to support this legislation that will lock in a plan for meeting that responsibility,’ Ms Barham said.