The government’s long term vision for coal mine dependent communities

Filed in Just In by May 17, 2021

RECOGNISING that coal is likely to have a finite lifespan as an energy source, the government is working to support coal-dependent communities to diversify for the future, ensuring they remain vibrant places to live with good employment opportunities.

The transition to new energy sources is a long-term economic change that will continue to reshape regional communities that currently rely on the export coal industry.

The NSW Government recently launched a program to set aside a portion of coal mining royalties to ensure coal mining communities have a strong future for not just 20 years but decades to come.

“The NSW Government’s Future of Coal Strategy is a roadmap for the coal industry in NSW, but we understand that mines have a lifespan, and we need to ensure coal mining communities keep quality high-paying jobs in their towns for the next generation and the generation after that,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Make no mistake, coal mining has a strong future in this state, but to ensure stability for the long haul we are setting aside funds so those coal mining communities, which produce such a valuable resource for our state, can plan what their future looks like,” Mr Barilaro said.

The government has set out a policy framework that supports investment certainty in NSW as the coal sector responds to global demand, while assisting communities to manage a decline in thermal coal mining in the state over the longer term.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro says this approach strikes a balance that will support the global transition to low carbon energy sources while giving coal-reliant communities time to adapt.

“The government’s future fund is designed for future generations and future jobs. In the short term, NSW is well placed to meet the demand for coal from countries at our doorstep. However, over the long term, it is an industry that will be directly affected by the global transition to lower-carbon sources of energy,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The NSW Government will be proactive in its preparation to adapt to the international trend of reducing carbon emissions by building resilient regional communities that can transition to new economic opportunities,” he said.

Many countries around the world have begun a transition away from fossil fuels to low carbon sources of energy to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement. This will ultimately lead to the global phasing out of coal in electricity generation (thermal coal) but will take some decades to complete.

The use of thermal coal will decline in NSW over the coming decades as our aging coal-fired electricity plants reach the end of their technical lives and are replaced with cleaner forms of energy generation.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Upper Hunter candidate David Layzell and NSW National Party Treasurer Dominic Perrottet

The NSW Government will continue to work to strengthen regional economies, including the development and implementation of location-specific plans to diversify those heavily dependent on coal mining. There will be regional variations in the profile of coal production. Some areas will see a gradual decline over the next few years, while others could see increased coal production in the short to medium term.

“We will adopt a systematic, place-based approach to transition planning, starting with the regions that are expected to experience the earliest coal production declines and the Upper Hunter region given the importance of its coal industry,” he said.

“The NSW Government will monitor global coal demand and domestic production and emissions. We will take a flexible, adaptive approach to respond to global economic change, should there be a significant shift in trajectory.”

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government recognises that the coal mining industry is the economic backbone of this state and in turn, coal mining communities need certainty for their future.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested in these communities over coming years to ensure jobs and investment in our vital regional areas,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We want to ensure mining towns continue to have highly skilled well-paid jobs in growth industries that will lock in their economic security long into the future, so young people have the opportunity to remain in the town where they grew up.”

Coal currently remains a critical energy source globally, supplying over a third of all electricity.

For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.

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