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Greenhouse gas emissions from NSW coal mines set to increase by a quarter to 2030 while emissions from other industries fall

The NSW Government has made the astonishing admission that emissions from coal mining will increase by more than a quarter by 2030 on 2021 levels.

The state government’s latest NSW Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections, 2021-2050, shows a predicted increase in direct emissions from coal mining of 29% by 2030 from 2021 (see data set here).  

Fugitive emissions in NSW (~about 95% of which are coal mining emissions) are the only sector that the NSW Government predicts will increase this decade and are expected to rise from 10.6 million tonnes of CO2-e in 2021 to 13.7 Mt CO2-e in 2030.

The projection comes as the NSW Government mulls approvals for eight new coal projects, which collectively would be responsible for more than 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2-e once the coal from the mines is burnt.

As well, recent research shows a range of options are available for coal mining companies to reduce on site methane emissions.

The former head of Griffith University’s school of science, emeritus professor Ian Lowe, said, “Climate change is already having devastating impacts on agriculture and tourism as well as the built environment and natural systems. Thirty-six councils in New South Wales have declared a climate emergency. 

"We urgently need to reduce emissions from existing activities, not allow them to expand. Deliberately accelerating climate change by approving new coal mines would be criminally irresponsible."

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator Nic Clyde said it was unfair for other industries that were doing the right thing and reducing their emissions to pick up the slack for the coal mining sector.

“The coal mining industry in NSW must not be allowed to pollute at an increasing rate while other industries like transport and manufacturing do the hard yards to reduce emissions,” he said.

“Coal mining companies have made record profits off Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but they’re not investing even a fraction of that cash in the relatively inexpensive technologies that would reduce their on site emissions. 

“We know there needs to be no new coal or gas if we’re to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, but that’s only part of the picture.

“We also need existing coal mines to up their game, reduce their onsite emissions, and work with other industries to make NSW's, and Australia’s, contribution to global warming as low as possible.

“The terrifying impacts of climate change are already here in the form of unprecedented droughts, bushfires, and floods. Every tonne of greenhouse gas these coal mines send into the atmosphere leads to more dangerous warming.  

“There’s no time to waste - we need real action, now.”



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