The NSW Opposition will introduce a bill to parliament that it says reflects the “urgency of the climate crisis” and would make the state government’s emissions reductions targets law.
Earlier this year, the Berejiklian Coalition government agreed on a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as an ambitious goal of a 50 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030.
NSW Labor on Friday evening announced it would seek bipartisan support on its private member’s bill to enshrine the targets in law.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns, shadow climate Minister Jihad Dib and shadow environment Minister Penny Sharpe issued a joint statement confirming the decision.
“This legislation is an important step forward, but it should not be a big leap for (Premier) Dominic Perrottet and (Treasurer) Matt Kean to join with the Opposition and support legislating these targets,” they wrote.
“It will give business, industry and the environment certainty that these targets will be law regardless of who is in power in NSW.”
Labor says its bill would establish a “Net Zero Commission” to develop and review emissions reduction strategies and monitor the effects on jobs and industry as well as energy prices.
Under their proposal, the commission would update the plan every five years and focus on job protection, including ensuring mining communities “receive a fair share from royalties”.
The bill would also require the commission to report annually to parliament, and the NSW Government to provide its response at the same time.
The three Labor MPs accused the Premier of having a “questionable track record” on climate change and said supporting their bill would demonstrate his commitment to tackling the issue.
Just last month, Mr Perrottet urged the federal government to “follow NSW’s lead” and significantly ramp up its 2030 emissions reduction target.
“We are not saying we are against fossil fuels; what we are saying is inevitably over time we are going to move to a renewable future,” he told the ABC.
“That’s where the world is going and those governments that move and invest today will be the ones that have an economic edge going forward.”
Since becoming Premier, Mr Perrottet has appeared eager to distance himself from some of the conservative views he had promoted in the past.
He had previously publicly questioned climate change, including writing “If you question man-made climate change, you are not a sceptic” on social media following Donald Trump’s 2016 US election win.
In 2019, when Mr Perrottet was NSW Treasurer, a video emerged of him addressing a conservative think tank four years earlier where he said addressing climate change was a “gratuitous waste” of taxpayers’ money.
But he seems to have changed his tune.
Matt Kean, the current Treasurer and outgoing Climate Change and Energy Minister, was one of the MPs who pushed for the emissions reductions targets before they were announced in September.
Then-Premier Gladys Berejiklian said their net zero plan was expected to attract more than $37 billion in private-sector investment into NSW.
Mr Kean has been publicly at odds with the federal government over emissions reduction and climate change issues.
The current commonwealth government – led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce – will not legislate its net zero by 2050 goal, nor commit to a more ambitious target for 2030.