Explainer: A guide to NSW emissions targets and progress


NSW's emissions are marked by heavy contributions from the energy sector, transport, and agriculture, with coal-fired power generation being a significant source.

Emissions Trend Over the Last Decade

The past decade has seen a downward trend in NSW's greenhouse gas emissions, driven by a shift towards renewable energy sources, energy efficiency gains, and a gradual move away from coal in the energy mix.

Comparison with Other States and Territories

NSW is among the top emitters in Australia by volume, attributed to its sizable population and industrial activities. Yet, on a per capita basis, emissions are comparatively lower than states with a larger focus on mining and resource extraction.

Emissions Reduction Targets

NSW aims to cut emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels and reach net-zero by 2050.

Alignment with National and International Goals

The state's reduction targets are in step with Australia's overall climate commitments, aiming to meet international standards set by the Paris Agreement.

Progress Towards Targets

Current trends and policy initiatives put NSW in a position to potentially meet its 2030 emissions reduction target, but achieving the 2050 net-zero goal presents a more significant challenge.

Key Contributing Sectors

The electricity and transport sectors are the largest contributors to NSW's emissions, followed by agriculture and manufacturing.

Impact of State Characteristics

The demographic growth, economic structure leaning towards service industries, and high urbanization rate, particularly in Sydney, shape both the emissions landscape and the formulation of climate policies in NSW.

Key Policies for Emissions Reduction

  • The state is investing in renewable energy projects and has introduced measures to promote solar and wind energy adoption.
  • Policies aimed at increasing electric vehicle uptake include funding for charging infrastructure and initiatives to transition public transport to non-fossil fuel sources.

Challenges in Emissions Reduction

Transitioning from coal without destabilising energy supply, addressing the rising energy demand from population growth, and integrating renewables into the energy grid represent key hurdles.

Opportunities for Emissions Reduction

NSW's technological sector and coastal geography present opportunities for innovation in renewable energy technologies and the exploitation of wind and wave energy.

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