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NSW Labor moves to make net zero a legislated goal

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Wind and sunshine are free, as NSW will be when it throws off the carbon shackles of the old energy economy. Photo: Getty
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NSW Labor will introduce a private member’s bill to legislate the state government’s net zero 2050 target that it has not written into law.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns says legislating the targets will provide certainty that business and industry deserve, and his party’s “very reasonable” bill “mirrors similar approaches already taken in Victoria and the ACT”.

The NSW government is targeting a 50 per cent reduction in 2005-level emissions by 2030, and net zero by 2050.

The Labor bill seeks to make the targets law and establish a commission to ensure they are met.

Labor is seeking bipartisan support from NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s government to get the legislation through.

Mr Minns is expected to announce the introduction of the legislation on Saturday morning, alongside the party’s energy and climate spokesman Jihad Dib and environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe.

Mr Dib says legislation is needed for the net-zero and interim targets because “meaningful action on climate change is too important to open up to changes in government … we have to go beyond aspiration”.

NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean was credited with pushing the government to make aspirational commitments to emissions reduction, but Labor expressed concerns that he would soon be leaving the portfolio.

Mr Kean was asked on Sky News this week why the parliament had not been committed to a net-zero target that he dismissed the question as an attempt to play “word games” and said the government was focusing on “having ambitious targets and the policies legislated in place that are going to help us hit” those targets.

New policies for a new age

Last week, Mr Kean told a budget estimates hearing the state would need new policies to hit the 2050 net-zero target but new technologies and opportunities would arrive to help hit that target in the future.

He also took aim at a lack of policy from the Labor party, saying “we’ve seen more environmental policy from known greenie Dominic Perrottet than we have from Labor”.

As well as legislating the targets, Labor wants to establish a net-zero commission to recommend how the government can meet the targets, set targets for the government’s own energy use, support the diversification of local economies while protecting and creating jobs, and ensure mining communities receive a share of royalties.

The commission would also be required to deliver an annual report to parliament.

-AAP