Climate-ready planning laws for NSW – Rocky Hill and beyond

Filed under Environment & Pollution, Letters & Opinion ~ by Editor on  24 Mar 2019

Environmental Defenders Office NSW today publishes its comprehensive recommendations for climate-ready planning laws for NSW, including a new Climate Change Act, a Minister for Climate Change and a Climate Change Division within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

In February 2019 the Land and Environment Court of NSW handed down a landmark judgment in the Rocky Hill coal mine case which confirmed that decision makers are obligated to make planning decisions with regard for the need to limit global warming to 1.5-2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Despite the unequivocal scientific evidence on the urgency of taking measures to limit warming, the legal and governance frameworks needed for effective action are insufficient to ensure we meet that goal. In NSW, many of our important environment and planning laws lack the specificity needed to reduce emissions, transition to clean and renewable energy system and plan for the anticipated impacts of already locked-in global warming.

Our new report, Climate-ready planning laws for NSW: Rocky Hill and beyond, recommends a new Climate Change Act for NSW and amendments to our planning laws that:

· set specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing renewable energy;

· impose duties on decision makers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make decisions consistent with limiting the increase in global warming to no more than 1.5°C; and

· put in place processes (such as climate adaption plans) for building resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Failing to limit global warming will have catastrophic impacts. The recommendations in this report demonstrate how we can make NSW planning laws climate ready and ensure that today’s communities, planners, developers and decision makers have the guidance needed to ensure NSW plays its part in reducing emissions and limiting warming to 1.5°C. NSW must also be ready to manage climate risks; protect assets, lives and livelihoods; and plan for a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuel production and use consistent with the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advice.

The future of our cities and towns depends upon it, as do the unique landscapes and ecosystems we all depend upon.

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