WATCH Press Release: Comment on ‘The Critical Decade’, Australian Climate Commission Report

THE CRITICAL DECADE: New South Wales Climate Impacts and Opportunities

Report by the Australian Climate Commission

 Download full report here.

WATCH response to above report, compiled by Lizette Salmon.

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The impacts of climate change described in the Climate Commission report did not come as a surprise to WATCH spokesperson, Lizette Salmon.

“This report, like many that have preceded it, makes it clear that much of NSW, including, by implication, the Border region, will be vulnerable to increasing climate variability and increasing intensity of extreme weather events, such as severe droughts and occasional flooding rains, crop and livestock losses, more destructive bush fires, more severe heat waves, flourishing of invasive plants and pests and adverse impacts on human health. This is not the sort of future we want for ourselves or our children. We need to change it and we can change it”, said Ms Salmon.

WATCH supports the opportunities and actions and outlined in the Report, including the need for more public transport and to move beyond coal.

“Too much money is being spent on roads and not enough on rail. This report emphasises the need for much more investment in low pollution public transport,” said Ms Salmon.

The Report reveals that “A train line can move 50,000 commuters per hour, whereas a freeway lane can only move 2,500 in the same time.” Despite this, research by the Australian Conservation Foundation shows that NSW has been spending twice as much on roads as on rail. “Given that rail is 20 times more efficient in moving people around, and has less than a quarter the pollution, it’s time governments got serious about improving rail infrastructure”, said Ms Salmon.

WATCH is also very supportive of the Report’s plan for more renewable energy. “Here in Australia coal mining is a fast growing source of greenhouse pollution, while the Asian economic power houses are busy making plans to transition to renewable energy. Japan installed 1,000MW of solar photovoltaics in 2011 and is introducing a feed-in tariff for renewable energy that starts in a couple of months, while China has targets to build a massive 210GW of solar and wind by 2020. Yet NSW is planning to double coal exports from Newcastle, and build the equivalent of 15 new mega mines in the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains. This is so counter-intuitive to climate action it’s ridiculous”, said Ms Salmon.

“Currently only 6% of electricity produced in NSW is from renewable sources, even though the NSW government has a target of increasing this to 20% by 2020. Why isn’t the Government working harder to achieve this target? WATCH recently conducted a second large survey of local residents, and found that support for renewable energy remains very high. Border residents want more renewable energy and they want the government to build large scale renewable energy; actions that are consistent with the recommendations in the Climate Commission report.”

“The opportunities for regional Australia to capitalise on renewable energy are enormous.  Regional areas such as Albury Wodonga have a massive solar resource which has barely been tapped yet.  Developing these resources means jobs for Australians, stable electricity prices and a more stable climatic future.”

“The NSW Government has been playing cheap politics over the carbon price, Australia’s first serious attempt at reducing greenhouse pollution. Instead of pandering to the interests of the mining industry, which are clearly not in the national interest, they should be showing leadership, be part of a global effort to avoid the future shown to us in the Climate Commission’s report, and put people and communities ahead of mining executives.”

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For more comments on the potential for solar energy in our region, see also:

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