Skip navigation

NSW Government commissions coal mine emissions advice that gives up on Paris climate goals on first page

New documents obtained under freedom of information laws reveal the NSW Government commissioned “best practice” advice on how to reduce coal mine greenhouse gas emissions that began with the assumption that Paris Agreement climate targets “will not be met”.

NSW formally committed to the Paris Agreement in 2016 and undertook to “take action that is consistent with the level of effort to achieve Australia’s commitments to the Paris Agreement.

However, the Katestone Environmental report, which the Planning Department received last year, starts by saying: “It is generally accepted that the original Paris Treaty goal of keeping mean global temperature change at or below 2.0°C (and preferably 1.5°C) compared to pre-industrial levels (1800s) will not be met.” The report is available here.

The report also contains a “check-list” that is ill-informed and gives the department poor advice at odds with existing expert advice on coal mine methane emission mitigation, such as the use of ventilated air methane capture and destruction technology.

The Katestone Report:

  • Lists "offsetting of fugitive methane emissions from open cut mines" as an “emerging best practice” and makes no mention of pre-mine drainage, or preventing more coal mining from occurring, which are genuine best practices. 

  • Does not include separate methane reporting and interim targets, nor the alignment of these targets with a 1.5 degree pathway, both of which are in ClimateAction100’s Net Zero Standard for Diversified Mining Companies

  • Fails to address the accepted role of early and concerted methane abatement as crucial to achieving the Paris temperature goals. 

Katestone was also commissioned to complete individual emissions abatement reports for 16 of NSW’s operating coal mines. Lock the Gate attempted to access these reports under freedom of information laws as well, however the companies objected, and the information commissioner subsequently refused to provide these documents.

The Katestone Review is also not the only document informing NSW Government policy that does not align with Paris Agreement targets. The government has an Issues Paper out on the promised regional transition authorities for coal mining regions, which relies on a future scenario associated with expected global warming of more than two degrees.  

While the commissioning of the Katestone Review predates the government’s newly legislated climate targets, this Issues Paper is live now.

Lock the Gate Alliance Head of Research and Investigations Georgina Woods said, 

“This report is fatally compromised because it starts by discarding the goals the NSW Government is legally bound to achieve. At the outset it claims ‘the goal is lost.’ 

“The NSW Government is not going to take the actions needed to achieve the crucial goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees if the advice it relies on is not seriously pursuing that goal.

“This report suggests the Planning Department is out of its depth and out of step with what is needed to achieve the government’s goal of protecting New South Wales from catastrophic levels of global warming. 

“These targets are still achievable but the window is rapidly closing. Preventing the release of more methane, which is driving short-term global warming and is pouring out of NSW coal mines, will buy the world much-needed time. 

“Preventing methane pollution from open cut mines means not letting them get any bigger, but right now, the NSW Planning Department is assessing plans for 19 coal mine expansions, some of which will emit millions of tonnes of methane.

“Urgent methane reduction from existing coal mines is one of the most crucial tasks facing the NSW Government and the public needs to have confidence that all parts of government are working to achieve our climate goals.

“The Minns Government needs to urgently clarify that it is committed to reducing direct and downstream greenhouse pollution from coal mines in line with meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

“Meeting these targets is essential. Failing now risks catapulting the world into climate chaos, which is already having a devastating impact on NSW communities.”


Continue Reading

Read More

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.