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News about Climate Change and our Planet

Coalition of independent NSW candidates vow to slow or halt coal and gas projects

Coalition of independent NSW candidates vow to slow or halt coal and gas projects

A coalition of independents hoping to hold the balance of power in the next New South Wales parliament will demand action to slow or halt coal and gas projects from the major parties in the case of a hung parliament.

Amid tightening in polling in the lead-up to the 25 March state election, the eight independents will seek to progress major reforms aimed at resources projects across the state, including the Narrabri gas project.

The group of candidates, including the Sydney MP, Alex Greenwich, the northern beaches mayor, Michael Regan, and “teal” hopefuls will on Thursday outline their five key policies, such as reforms to planning laws to stop gas pipelines and coal seam gas development on the Liverpool Plains – a move intended to stop the Narrabri gas project from proceeding.

They will also push for a climate impact statement to be included as part of the assessment for every new and expanded coal and gas project, and create a requirement for decision-makers to properly consider and work to minimise the climate impacts of all projects.

Greenwich – who has been a key driver of progressive policy in the current parliament – said climate change considerations needed to be embedded into development approvals.

“We are in a race to decarbonise every aspect of society, yet the planning system is failing to act as a gatekeeper, locking the state into decades of massive dirty emissions,” he said.

“New coal and gas projects will only destroy the air, water, biodiversity, climate and now food bowl at a time when the impacts of climate change are devastating communities across the state.”

The independents will also seek to change the approvals process by allowing communities to test coal and gas project approvals in the land and environment court.

The Manly challenger Joeline Hackman – who hopes to win the seat from the environment minister, James Griffin – described the moves as sensible and in line with community expectations.

“These proposed reforms demonstrate how independents are uniquely placed to negotiate with the major parties to secure enduring change that benefits our communities and our state,” she said.

The Vaucluse independent candidate Karen Freyer said it was time “our response was as serious as the problems we face”. “That includes a more rigorous planning and approvals system that no longer allows for increased emissions,” she said.

If elected, members of the group will also introduce measures to regulate and progressively reduce greenhouse gas pollutants, including methane from existing coalmines.

The Pittwater candidate Jacqui Scruby said it was “responsible economic management” to enable an orderly transition to a renewable economy.

“The first step is considering the impacts of climate change on all new coal and gas projects, particularly some of the biggest projects our state has ever seen that will create emissions for decades to come,” she said.

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The upper house independent candidate Elizabeth Farrelly echoed her views.

“Mining fossil fuels is nonsensical in terms of climate, food and economics, yet neither major party has the backbone to lead the weaning process,” she said.

Early last month a similar group of independents outlined plans to introduce a bill in the next term of parliament in an attempt to kill the controversial Pep-11 gas exploration licence by banning development of the area through a legislative change.

Independents have also outlined a number of other demands for the major parties.

The North Shore challenger Helen Conway said the government has been “failing the people of NSW on climate action”.

The Lane Cove candidate Victoria Davidson – aiming to defeat the planning minister, Anthony Roberts – said the state needed to change the status quo.

“We need a government who will prioritise reducing our cost of living, by accelerating the transition to renewable energy to secure permanently cheaper power bills,” she said.

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