2023 Policy Initiative - A Just Transition

Taking the power back - empowering coal workers and communities. 

The climate emergency threatens our safety and health, our sources of water and our capacity to grow food, and the air we breathe. If we continue to mine and burn coal, oil and gas, we’ll face increasing bushfires, heatwaves, floods, droughts, coastal flooding and catastrophic events.

We’ll also feel the economic stress: we’ll pay more for food, insurance, health services and energy bills. The climate crisis will also worsen inequality – with those already marginalised experiencing the worst impacts of a warming planet.

In this critical decade for climate action, we need to keep coal and gas in the ground, and rapidly shift to renewable energy.

A transition plan to look after workers and communities

We don’t need to choose between taking urgent climate action and supporting coal communities. We can do both.

Liberal and Labor are lying to workers and communities, saying coal can keep going for decades when science says it clearly can’t.

The Greens have a plan to immediately ban the construction of new coal and gas infrastructure and phase out thermal coal and gas by 2030.

We can look after people working in the coal, oil and gas industries with well-managed transition planning driven by workers and communities and supported by all levels of government.

THE GREENS WILL:

  • Put a moratorium on all new coal, gas and oil projects – including the controversial Santos Narrabri gas project – and phase out thermal coal and gas by 2030.
  • Give workers and industry certainty over when coal-fired power stations will close down so they can plan ahead. Our plan will see all 4 coal-fired power stations still in operation in NSW close by 2030, starting with Vales Point in 2025 and ending with Mt Piper in 2030.
  • Establish a fully-funded accountable and independent structural change authority – the NSW Energy Transition Authority – to oversee the closure of coal and gas-fired power stations, to ensure there will be sufficient replacement renewable energy generation and storage and to establish region-specific transition authorities to coordinate the diversification of local economies previously reliant on fossil fuels.
  • Look after people working in the coal, oil and gas industries, with ready access to training and financial security. We support the call for a TAFE New Industries Training Centre in the Hunter, to reskill and upskill workers, and will ensure all impacted workers across the State have access to relevant training.
  • Increase levies on coal and gas extraction royalties – raising around $8bn extra each year – and stop handing them millions in annual subsidies. Big coal, oil and gas corporations must pay for the damage they are causing.
  • Require all coal-fired power stations to be brought up to best practice efficiency, pollution and contamination standards. 
  • Create hundreds of jobs and clean up coal-fired power station sites by investing in the innovative coal-ash reuse industry for roads and lower-emission construction products.

We don’t need to choose between taking urgent climate action and supporting coal communities. We can do both.

Liberal and Labor are lying to workers and communities, saying coal can keep going for decades when science says it clearly can’t.

We must look after people working in the coal, oil and gas industries as we transition towards a decarbonised economy and ensure that their communities can take full advantage of the opportunities that come with it.

  • No new coal and gas, no new fossil-fuelled power: A moratorium on all new coal, gas and oil projects. The Greens will permanently cancel the destructive Santos Narrabri Gas and Hunter Gas pipeline projects.
  • Planned staged closure of coal-fired power stationsWorkers and industry need to know when coal-fired power stations will close down so they can plan ahead. NSW has 4 coal-fired power stations still in operation. Our plan will see them all close by 2030, starting with our dirtiest, Vales Point power station, in 2025 and ending with Mt Piper power station in 2030.
  • NSW Energy Transition Authority: The Greens will establish a fully-funded local, accountable and independent structural change authority to oversee the closure of coal- and gas-fired power stations, to ensure there will be sufficient replacement renewable energy generation and storage and to establish region-specific transition authorities to coordinate the diversification of local economies that were previously reliant on fossil fuels, funded by an increase in coal royalties. Local, independent authorities composed of workers, councils and community representatives are best positioned to identify the needs of the community as they navigate economic diversification from fossil fuels, and to ensure regions remain desirable and vibrant places to live. The NSW Energy Transition Authority would be run in coordination with the Greens’ National Energy Transition Authority proposed at federal level.
  • Training and financial security for workersWe can look after people working in the coal, oil and gas industries, with financial security and ready access to training. The Greens are committed to restoring TAFE as a world-class educational institution. We support the call for a TAFE New Industries Training Centre in the Hunter, to reskill and upskill workers, and will ensure all impacted workers across the State have access to relevant training. Our federal plan for a Job for Job Guarantee means that workers’ wages will be guaranteed for 10 years in new jobs, with their new employer receiving a wage subsidy.
  • Make the fossil fuel industry payIncrease levies on coal and gas extraction royalties, raising around an additional $8bn every year, and stop handing them millions in annual subsidies. Big coal, oil and gas corporations must pay for the damage they are causing. Power stations will be required to upgrade their pollution-reduction technology or face increased licence fees. Coal companies will be required to properly pay for mine rehabilitation, cover their coal and take other best-practice measures to reduce their business’ impact on public health and the environment or face increased licence fees.
  • Power station site clean up: For decades, NSW regulators have permitted our power stations to pollute at levels that wouldn’t be permitted in most other countries in the world. The result has been millions of tons of toxic coal ash being pumped into unlined pits, polluting lakes and groundwater and wreaking havoc on our local health and environment. We will require all coal-fired power stations to be brought up to best practice efficiency, pollution and contamination standards.
  • Coal-ash recycling and reuse: The Greens have been at the forefront of the push to recycle and reuse the coal ash sitting in our state’s power station sites. Not only does leaving coal ash where it is create health and environmental risks for decades to come, by taking it out of these sites we can create hundreds of jobs. Our plan will facilitate the clean up of coal-fired power station sites by investing in the innovative coal-ash reuse industry for roads and lower-emission construction products.
  • Restore land destroyed by coal mining: The restoration of land in coal mining regions is not only vital for environmental and biodiversity reasons, it is key to unlocking their future economic potential. The land currently scarred by coal mining must be restored to support new and expanded regenerative and sustainable industries. The Greens give our full support to Hunter Renewal’s Community Blueprint to Restore the Hunter.

 

CASE STUDY: A TRANSITION PLAN FOR NEWCASTLE & THE HUNTER

The coal industry plays a small but significant role in the local economy of the Newcastle and Hunter region. The Hunter is home to over 40 coal mines and 2 coal-fired power stations, Liddell (scheduled to close 2023) and Bayswater (scheduled to close 2035). Together, the coal industry employs less than 12,000 people in the Hunter, or approximately 4% of all workers in the region.

There is no doubt that the closure of coal mines and coal-fired power stations will hit the Hunter hard. We must have a plan to ensure that these communities, who have long helped to keep the lights on across our state, are not left behind as we transition to a decarbonised economy.

As well as providing certainty for workers over when these power stations will close, our plan includes training and financial support for workers and a commitment to invest in new industries across Newcastle and the Hunter. Under our plan, we will create thousands of new long-term jobs, including:

  • thousands of jobs in coal-mine clean-up and rehabilitation. We will facilitate the rehabilitation of thousands of hectares of defunct mining land and repurposing it for use by the renewable energy, manufacturing and conservation sectors[1]
  • hundreds of jobs in the coal-ash recycling industry. Despite coal ash accounting for nearly one-fifth of Australia’s waste stream and being able to be used in construction products, very little of it is reused in NSW. The Greens will facilitate the establishment of a vibrant coal-ash reuse industry on and around the Liddell and Bayswater power station sites, providing hundreds of skilled jobs
  • hundreds of jobs in electric bus manufacturing. The rollout of electric buses in our state has been hampered by a lack of local manufacturers. We will introduce electric bus manufacturing to the Hunter
  • hundreds of jobs in train manufacturing. The NSW Liberal-National Government has made error after error when it comes to procuring trains from overseas. The Greens will invest in re-establishing the train manufacturing industry in Newcastle, and keep it in public hands
  • thousands of jobs in sustainable sectors such as health, education and community services. We will reverse the Liberal-National obsession with privatising and devaluing public services and invest in long-term well-paid jobs in the services that matter most to the community

Under our plan, we will also work to unpick the disastrous privatisation of New South Wales’ ports and to take back public control of our ports. This will be vital to support the diversification of the Newcastle and Hunter local economy as we move away from coal.

The Greens are also committed to restoring TAFE as a world-class educational institution, which will be critical as we tackle the task of upskilling and reskilling workers leaving jobs in the coal industry. We support the Hunter Jobs Alliance’s call for a TAFE New Industries Training Centre.

The Greens fully support Hunter Renewal’s Hunter Restoration Blueprint, an excellent example of the groundwork being laid by communities across NSW for the transition away from coal mining and coal fired-power.

 


[1] Diversification and Growth: Transforming Mining Land in the Hunter Valley report, commissioned by Lock the Gate https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-15/hunter-valley-mining-land-reuse-…

 

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