The Iemma Government’s latest attempts to win favour with environmentalists over its plans to privatise the State’s electricity industry, isn’t enough to quell concerns about the overall environmental impacts of privatisation, the State’s peak environment group said today.
“Promises to favour private investors who will shut down the State’s heaviest polluting coal-fired power plant, Munmorah, don’t hold much sway. Without a big refurbishment and free permits to pollute under a future Emissions Trading Scheme, the plant will be closed by 2012 anyway,” said Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“The State Government is throwing crumbs at the environment movement at a time when it needs to be pulling out all stops to tackle climate change and curb NSW’s rising greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity.
“The rationale for privatising the State’s electricity industry has been flawed from the start. NSW has more than enough baseload power for its needs, a lot of which lies idle at any given time.
“If the Government’s soon-to-be-announced energy-efficiency programs are as aggressive as they need to be, the savings in energy would negate Mr Costa’s desire for a baseload power plant.
“Given Australia will commit this year to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020, all Governments would need to be introducing tough energy savings rules anyway.
“We would also start to see the most polluting power plants retiring early because they would be too expensive to run, whether the industry is privatised or not.
“The difference is that a privatised industry will resist energy savings measures because it affects their bottom line.
“It’s important the environment movement isn’t greenwashed by a Government desperate to boost its coffers in the short-term while selling out the people and the environment of NSW in the long-term.
“We musn’t forget in all of this that Michael Costa’s desire for another coal-fired power plant for NSW is irrational. He is a climate change sceptic and because privatising the State’s electricity industry has such enormous ramifications for climate change this decision must be taken out his hands,” said Ms Faehrmann.