Climate Change in Sydney, NSW

Here’s a current look at Sydney’s climate situation and local energy transition. This is for everyone in Greater Sydney.

1.0 Sydney Politicians going biffo on the climate

2.0 Sydney’s Climate Organizations

3.0 Sydney’s Carbon Monsters keep burning

4.0 Progress on Sydney’s Energy Transition

1.0 Clover Moore, Lord Mayor, Sydney

2.0 Gladys Berejiklian, Premier, New South Wales

2.1 Jordan Shanks, YouTube influencer

3.0 John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, New South Wales

4.0 Zalli Steggall, Sydney Native, Member of Parliament

5.0 Kerryn Phelps, Sydney City Councilor

A woman with blue eyes wearing a bicycle helmet. pic

1.0 Before the ScoMo ouster, Sydney’s elected officials were going biffo on Climate Change

Sydney’s Mayor Moore says cities must do their bit on climate despite state & federal hostility

“We still have many politicians and levels of government in Australia still denying climate change, so it’s a fairly hostile environment for action. I’m not the only mayor who’s having terrible problems with state and federal government simply not doing what needs to be done.” – Clover Moore Lord Mayor of Sydney, talking about climate solutions in cities, at a Climate Mayors Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Angus Taylor is the minister responsible for addressing global warming, and he has failed. Cities around the world are doing their bit to address global warming; it’s our national governments that are failing us.” Clover Moore Lord Mayor of Sydney, Dec 2019

A square-jawed man look serious and unpleased.

The Opposite. Australia’s previous Energy Minister said reducing carbon emissions would be bad for the economy.

“In most countries it isn’t ­acceptable to pursue emission ­reduction policies that add to the cost of living, destroy jobs, reduce incomes and impede growth. The same is true in Australia.” – Angus Taylor, Energy Minister of Australia, Dec 2019

Current: Q4 2022

National Newspaper: The Guardian / Australian Associated Press. Sydney lord mayor says climate change is the issue, not New Year’s Eve fireworks. 30 Dec 2019. The Guardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/31/nsw-premier-gladys-berejiklian-has-mixed-feelings-about-sydneys-new-years-eve-fireworks

NGO conference video: “C40 Stories: Lord Mayor Clover Moore of Sydney, Australia” YouTube.com/watch?v=ZwcWpIrZOYM

National Newspaper: The Australian. We should be proud of our climate change efforts editorial by Angus Taylor 31 Dec 2019 TheAustralian.com.au/commentary/we-should-be-proud-of-our-climate-change-efforts/news-story/0dec56da908b04a1a55c69f1631c1b52

Photos: The Daily Telegraph (Taylor); Sky News (Moore)

A woman responding gleefully to a reporter at a press conference

Former NSW Premier admitted no link between climate change and catastrophic bushfires.

Until 2021, Gladys Berejiklian was Premier of New South Wales (NSW). In 2017, Berejiklian diverted water from NSW’s bushlands to dry farmlands. Over the millennia, water in the bushland had been sufficient to prevent out-of-control fires. At the same time, Berejiklian cut funding from the first responders who fight bushfires. In 2019, NSW’s unprecedented bushland firestorms incinerated most of the region’s Koala Bears, along with an estimated billion other animals. Berejiklian refused to initiate a climate action plan for NSW, and in 2021, she was voted out of office.

A fresh-faced young man speaking into a big microphone and looking at you. photo
A white T-shirt with a picture of a woman and the hashtag Koala Killer. photo

Aussie YouTuber called out New South Wales Premier as a “Koala Killer”

Popular YouTuber Jordan Shanks (aka friendlyjordies), tagged NSW Premier Berejiklian as a “Koala Killer” for refusing to acknowledge that the mega bushfires of 2019-2020 were caused by the changing climate. Friendlyjordies raised funds for fire recovery thru the sale of his Koala Killer T-shirts.

Current: Q4 2022

Metro Newspaper: The Canberra Times. NSW fire inquiry to look at climate change by Heather McNabb, Jan 30 2020. Canberratimes.com.au/story/6605378/nsw-fire-inquiry-to-look-at-climate-change/?cs=14231

Metro Newspaper: The Sydney Morning Herald. Climate change one factor’ in bushfires and smoke haze, say ministers by Alexandra Smith, Tom Rabe and Lisa Visentin, Dec 11, 2019. Canberratimes.com.au/story/6605378/nsw-fire-inquiry-to-look-at-climate-change/?cs=14231

YouTube Channel: friendlyjordies. Koala extinction: why it’s happening by Jordan Shanks, Dec 1, 2019. Youtube.com/watch?v=WVJRAV6bBWs

A side view of a chubby middle-age man making a dorky face. photo.

You want to talk about climate change? You’re a bloody disgrace!

“It is an absolute disgrace to be talking about climate change while we have lost lives and assets. For any bloody greenie or lefty out there who wants to talk about climate change [during the mega-bushfires], they are a bloody disgrace.’’ – John Barilaro, Deputy Premier of New South Wales, November 2019. Barilaro was voted out of office in 2021.

Current: Q4 2022

Metro Newspaper: The Sydney Morning Herald. Deputy Premier says climate change talk amid fire crisis a ‘disgrace‘ by Alexandra Smith and David Crowe, November 11, 2019 smh.com.au/politics/nsw/deputy-premier-says-climate-change-talk-amid-fire-crisis-a-disgrace-20191111-p539ig.html

Steggall goes for the gold with Australia’s (possibly) first-ever Climate Plan.

Sydney native Olympic gold-medalist Zali Steggall marks a possible shift in Australia’s polarized politics of climate change. The new member of Parliament from Sydney (May 2019) is proposing legislation that would align her country with energy transition goals of most other nations…  to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.

The National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation (Climate Change Bill) would be modeled on the national climate frameworks of similar industrial nations. Under the plan, Australia would make five-year plans for reducing its carbon spew, and for making the nation more resilient to inevitable changes in the climate.

Steggall, an Independent Member of Parliament hopes her legislation will unite members from both sides of parliament around climate policy. Asking MPs for their buy-in, she says,

“Now is the time for a rational approach to climate change…It is time to take the party politics out of climate policy. It is a matter of principle that we should all be committed to a safer future.”

Parliament will vote Seggall’s proposal for a Climate Change Bill up or down on March 23, 2020.

Current: Q4 2022

Industry News: RenewEconomy. Independent Zali Steggall eyes end of ‘climate wars’ with zero carbon bill by Michael Mazengarb, 10 February 2020. RenewEconomy.com.au/independent-zali-steggall-eyes-end-of-climate-wars-with-zero-carbon-bill-42929/

A distinguished-looking woman with white hair has a big smile. photo

Sydney City Councillor sees action on climate change as a local responsibility.

Sydney citizen Kerryn Phelps, was a member of the Sydney Council from 2017 – 2018. She is a pop-culture physician popular throughout Australia.

“In the absence of climate change action by the national government it really is falling to the cities to do even more” – Kerryn Phelps, Sydney City Councillor, 2019

“We can stop fiddling around with talking about new coal mines because no one wants to fund them … government policy needs to establish a foundation for business to invest in renewables for our future and to protect our environment. That is something the Australian people are saying they want.” – Kerryn Phelps, Sydney City Councillor, 2019

Current: Q4 2022

News Blog: Vice. Sydney Has Officially Declared a Climate Emergency, by Gavin Butler, June 24 2019. Vice.com/en_au/article/bj9anw/sydney-has-officially-declared-a-climate-emergency.

News Blog: The New Daily. Kerryn Phelps zeroes in on climate change and Peter Dutton’s eligibility, by Paul Karp and Anne Davies. Nov 4 2018. TheGuardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/05/kerryn-phelps-seeks-urgent-briefing-on-peter-duttons-eligibility

Photos: SMH.com.au/politics/federal/is-she-a-superwoman-kerryn-phelps-to-juggle-parliament-and-council-20181022-p50b4w.html; TheNewDaily.com.au

2. Climate activists in Sydney were a big factor in NSW’s switch to a climate-friendly government

School Strike for Climate – Sydney

Sept, 2019. Stop Adani Coal Mining stopadani.com/sydney_climate_strike

The Climate Council drives thousands of stories in the Australian media.

“The bill is more conservative than the climate change legislation we need right now. We must reach net zero emissions well before 2040, 2050 is way too late,” – Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie in response to MP Zalli Segall’s proposed legislation towards a National Climate Plan, 10 Feb 2020

Sydney-based Climate Council is Australia’s leading climate change communications organisation. Climate Council provides expert advice to the Australian public on climate change and solutions based on the most up-to-date science available.

As an independent voice on climate change, we get climate stories into the media, produce hard-hitting reports, call out misinformation as we see it and promote climate solutions such as the transition to renewables. 

The Climate Council was founded in 2013 by tens of thousands of Australians to create a new, an independent and 100% community-funded organisation in response to the abolition of the Australian Climate Commission.

Climate Institute Australia

Communication Guide

Current: Q4 2022

climateinstitute.org.au/verve/_resources/Campaigner_Guide.pdf

1millionwomen.com.au/blog/are-you-nsw-its-time-take-your-power-your-own-hands/

climatecouncil.org.au/

3.0 Sydney has an unusual number of monster-size coal-fire stations powering just one city.

When will Sydney’s carbon monsters finally be quenched?

As of 2021, almost all of the Sydney region’s coal-fired power stations (“carbon monsters”) are scheduled to burn billions tons of climate-changing carbon over the next couple decades.

These massive coal-burners are among the world’s biggest contributors to climate change. They are fire-breathing carbon monsters and they’re torching the climate.

Sydney was settled in a region gifted with two abundant minerals: black coal and brown coal. Coal was in Sydney’s backyard, and coal is what people used. It was fair dinkum power.

Sydney quickly grew to be Australia’s biggest city – largely by setting coal alight to make electricity. Now people understand how coal-fire power stations are cooking the atmosphere and damaging the climate.

In 2021, cities and states across the world are seeing power companies start to retire their old coal-fired power stations. In New South Wales though, five monster-size coal-fire stations continue to chug away. They’re spewing carbon gas into the atmosphere as if there were no such thing as the greenhouse effect.

Scary thing is, these Sydney-area carbon monsters are scheduled to keep burning the atmosphere for years – even decades.

It’s 2021 and Sydney’s electricity still comes mostly from burning coal and gas.

Sydney’s energy mix is like that of Australia as a whole: 86 percent of the city’s electricity comes from burning millions of tons of coal and gas each year – the smoke of which is heating the climate.

The resource mix that makes electricity for modern life in the Land of Oz skews mostly towards carbon fuels.

New South Wales’ most gigantic carbon-fired power stations are set to burn the climate for many years to come

These are the biggest of Sydney’s carbon monsters (coal-fired power stations). These beasts are among the most massive burners of carbon in the world.

“Carbon Monster” is LocalClimate.org’s shorthand meme for “colossal, extremely damaging, super expensive carbon-fired power station.”

In comparison to other big cities across the world, Sydney is over-dependent on coal. Most large cities have been heating the atmosphere with the equivalent of one or two giant coal-fired power stations. Sydney has five of them. One will be shut down soon (2023), but the other four will be spewing over a billion tons of burnt coal for many years to come.

As of 2021, old power companies in the Sydney region won’t cut back on fossil-fueled electricity until the climate has become unbearably hot. That said, the clean electricity sector is moving forward with Sydney’s Great Energy Transition.

Current: Q4 2022

Wikipedia: Power Stations in New South Wales. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_New_South_Wales March 9, 2020.

The Carbon Monster at Eraring, NSW might stop spewing carbon in 2030

The coal-fired power station at Eraring NSW is gargantuan; it is the biggest, most powerful of NSW’s (and Australia’s) coal-fired power stations. The Eraring Carbon Monster spews 14,700,000 tons of climate-damaging emissions each year (40,300 tons every day). It spews about five times as much carbon gas as a typical coal station.

Until 2020, Eraring’s owner/operator, Origin Energy, had been ignoring shareholder requests to move the station’s 2032 shutdown date forward to 2030.

Now, in 2021, the company says it’s open to bringing down this old Godzilla sooner, in light of the changing climate, recent catastrophic bushfires, and public preference for solar and wind energy.

Current: Q4 2022

Industry news: smh.com.au/business/companies/origin-energy-says-coal-plant-closure-date-open-to-review-20200220-p542pd.html

photo: Rob Homer

The Carbon Beast at Mount Piper, NSW won’t be extinguished until 2043

The Mt. Piper Carbon Monster spews: 13,100,000 tons of greenhouse gas each year (33,100 tons every day)

This power station is much newer than the other New South Wales carbon monsters, so it has many more years of operational life. To ensure its longevity, its owner, EnergyAustralia, is investing $11 million (in 2020) for repair work. Mount Piper Coal-Fired Power Station will be good-as-new by 2022, and is scheduled to keep spewing millions of tons of carbon gas until 2043.

Current: Q4 2022

Industry news: power-technology.com/news/energyaustralia-piper-power-station/

Academic Journal: nature.org.au/media-releases/2019/02/climate-pollution-from-nsw-power-stations-keeps-climbing/

The Carbon Monstrosity at Bayswater, NSW won’t be quenched until 2035

The Bayswater Carbon Monster spews 12,900,000 tons of climate-warming gas each year (35,300 tons every day)

Bayswater Coal-Fired Power Station spews about four times as much carbon gas as a typical coal-fired power station. On-site, when you look at its constant, enormous amount of spew, you are witnessing a major reason why the climate is changing.

In 2019, New South Wales approved a large expansion of the Bayswater power station, allowing it to start blasting more carbon into the atmosphere, not less. As of 2021, this fire-breathing carbon monster is on schedule to torch the climate until 2035.

Current: Q4 2022

Wiki: wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayswater_Power_Station

Really? The Carbon Monster at Vales Point, NSW will burn the climate until 2049?

The Vales Point Carbon Monster spews 11,700,000 tons of greenhouse gas each year (32,100 tons every day)

Photo of Trevor St. Baker, a billionaire who got the New South Wales government to give him a coal-burning power plant for almost nothing.

Billionaire Trevor St. Baker is keeping his carbon monster alight for another 27 years.

The giant state-owned Vales Point Coal-Fired Power Station was scheduled to be turned-off in 2021. But in 2015, state government decided to privatized its infrastructure by giving this old carbon monster to billionaire Trevor St. Baker (Sunset Energy). New South Wales, as of 2020, is allowing Mr. St. Baker to bake the climate until 2049.

Current: Q4 2022

Local news: centralcoastnews.net/2019/06/19/power-station-sale-contracts-sought-to-explain-1b-loss-mystery/

Academic journal: nature.org.au/media-releases/2019/02/climate-pollution-from-nsw-power-stations-keeps-climbing/

Wiki: wikipedia.org/wiki/Vales_Point_Power_Station

Photo of Liddell Coal-Fired Power Station spewing Climate-damaging carbon gas into the atmosphere.

The Carbon Monster at Liddell, NSW will shut down soon, in 2023

The Liddell Carbon Monster spews 12,400,000 tons of greenhouse gas each year (33,900 tons every day)

Liddell Coal-Fired Power Station is ancient, in terms of the lifespan of a power station. This carbon monster has blasted over a billion tons of carbon smoke into the atmosphere since its ignition in 1973 – and it’s a big cause of climate change. Owner AGL Macquarie Energy is letting this station run to the end of its life in 2023, which is relatively soon compared to Sydney’s other climate monsters.

These piles of Australian black coal at Liddell Power Station are nine stories high, and they’re about to become a part of the atmosphere. When burnt to make fire, coal’s carbon molecules fuse with oxygen in the air to create carbon dioxide, which keeps too much of the sun’s heat in the atmosphere.

Current: Q4 2022

Company site: Origin Energy, Electricity Generation Across Australia, 2020. Originenergy.com.au/blog/electricity-generation-in-australia/

Industry news: energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/liddell-coal-fired-power-station/

photo: jonathan carroll

This page keeps track of current and planned solar & wind farms in proximity to the Sydney metro area. There’s currently (2021) more activity in building out the Australian clean electric grid.

4. Sydney is getting more electricity from wind farms.

The current pace of wind farm development in NSW is helping Sydney emerge as a leader in solving climate change.

The Great Energy Transition started quickly in Sydney’s electricity sector, during the late 2010s. At that time, electric retailers and private developers introduced the region to utility-scale wind farms. Each year since then, new wind and solar farms have started feeding electricity into the Australian National Grid. In 2021, all 12 retail electric providers in New South Wales are starting to deliver more wind and solar-generated electricity.

Wind and solar farms make about 7 percent of Sydney’s electricity in 2021. Now, in the early 2020s, rows and rows of school bus sized storage batteries are a critical part of each solar farm. “Battery farms” are a game-changing innovation – they store electricity made by wind and solar farms, and release it as needed, any time of day, 24/7.

New South Wales (NSW), the Australian state that contains Sydney, has 15 wind farms currently making electricity, and 7 proposed or under construction. Together, all the “switched-on” wind farms in New South Wales make enough electricity to electrify 1,100,0000 homes.

Still, in 2021, the combined power of these local wind farms, significant as it is, represents only 5% of Sydney’s electric needs. Australia’s electric industry is planning many more clean energy farms to replace the region’s five coal-fire power stations. Alrise in global heating.

The highlands outside Sydney are home to some of Australia’s biggest wind farms. The Tablelands, and the Uplands offer nearly uninterrupted wind. Most of these wind farms started operating after 2015, when wind quickly became a part of the Sydney’s energy mix. 

Current: Q4 2022

Photo: Bold Business

Soon, the most powerful wind farm in Australia will make enough electricity for one million Sydneysiders.

The newly planted Liverpool Wind Farm is a big solution to climate change. 370 kilometers northwest of Sydney, the Liverpool Wind Farm is switching-on (in phases) from 2021 to 2024.When fully operational in 2024, Liverpool’s 272 giant wind turbines will supply enough electricity for 504,000 average-size Australian homes. For the first time ever in Australia, just one big wind farm can keep over a million people supplied with electricity.

Liverpool Wind Farm will be the biggest, most powerful wind farm in Australia, making as much electricity each year as a one monster-sized coal plant. Local electric providers will sell much of Liverpool’s electricity to residents and businesses in the Sydney metro region.

Liverpool Wind Farm will prevent 2,620,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year for at least 25 years.

Current: Q4 2022

Liverpool Wind Farm’s owner/operator is Melbourne-based Tilt Renewables, which operates eight wind farms in Australia and New Zealand (2021).

Industry news: https://niche-eh.com/project/liverpool-wind-farm/

Five new wind farms will soon electrify at least two million Sydneysiders. Look at the huge amounts of carbon they’ll not spew.

How far along is Sydney in cutting its carbon spew? Sydney’s electric sector is making greater progress on the climate than one would expect. This is in spite of current (2021) tensions over energy policy in Canberra, Australia’s capital.

Over the next few years, new wind and solar stations in New South Wales will make enough electricity for over a million homes. At this pace of change, the carbon monsters (coal-fire power stations) serving Sydney might eventually stop spewing smoke – and stop damaging the climate.

2. Sydney excels in city-scale solar electricity

Actually, unlike other large cities, most of Sydney’s solar electricity (still just a modest amount in 2021) is made not by large solar farms, but on people’s rooftops.

That said, Sydney’s electric retailers have lately started hooking up to nearby solar farms. Solar farms are (in 2021) gradually beginning to replace the City’s need for carbon-fired electricity.

This solar farm near of Sydney makes enough electricity to power a large suburb

This drone photo shows one area of the sprawling Coleambally Solar Farm, 300 km When it tied-in with the Australian National Grid in 2018, Coleambally was the largest solar power station in Australia, making enough electricity to power 65,000 homes. It prevents 338,000 tons of carbon emissions each year.

Current: Q4 2022

Industry News: Renew Economy. Australia’s biggest solar farm at Coleambally sets new production records by Giles Parkinson, 23 November 2018 RenewEconomy.com.au/australias-biggest-solar-farm-at-coleambally-sets-new-production-records-67215/

Now, in 2021, the City of Sydney gets ALL its electricity from solar

In 2020, the City of Sydney plugged into its city-dedicated solar farm which prevents the spew of up to 210,000 tons of heat-trapping carbon gas.

In recent years, the trend of many C40 and Climate Mayors cities is to be able to electrify all of its city buildings, infrastructure, and operations.

Current: Q4 2022

Industry news: Infrastructure Energy Magazine. City of Sydney launches $60 million green energy deal by Kim Ho, October 29, 2019 Infrastructuremagazine.com.au/2019/10/29/city-of-sydney-launches-60-million-green-energy-deal/

Batteries are included with this new solar farm – now, solar can shine all-night

Sunraysia Solar Farm, outside Sydney, went on-grid (2020). What’s so special about this solar farm is that it comes with batteries – big batteries – rows and rows of them, each about the size of a school bus. Up until the late 2010s, solar farms could only transmit electricity to people and cities when they were actually taking in the sun’s energy. Now, giant batteries allow solar farms to work seamlessly with the grid, and store massive amounts of electricity to be used later – even in the middle of the night.

The Sydney campus of UNSW is losing its carbon footprint

The University of New South Wales, (UNSW) will soon be 100% decarbonized – its energy mix being 25% wind and 75% solar. The campus’s carbon footprint will disappear in 2021. This is a big local step in solving the climate crisis.

Current: Q4 2022

Wiki: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunraysia_Solar_Farm