The State of New South Wales

Population: 7.52 million (2014)

GDP: AUS$:487.6 million

Country: Australia

GHG emissions (year): 154.7 million tons (2012)

New South Wales is located on the east coast of Australia, covering an area of more than 800,000 square kilometers. NSW is Australia's most populous state, with 7.4 million residents. The NSW economy is the largest and most diverse in Australia, with 31% of the nation’s GDP.

The NSW Government’s ten year plan, NSW 2021, sets out our commitment to addressing climate change. The NSW Government is pursuing a broad strategy on climate change, including building a better understanding of climate change impacts, preparing for future extreme events and hazards, supporting the development of renewable energy projects and improving energy efficiency.

NSW is a leader in work on the science of understanding how our climate is changing, and what we need to do to be more resilient as a community. Over the past three years the NSW Government has invested more than $6 million in new science and research to understand and respond to the local impacts of climate change in NSW. This has included the release in December 2014 of local-scale projections of future changes in temperature, rainfall and other climate variables for NSW. These fine-scale projections help local government, business and the community to build resilience in the face of future extreme events and hazards by helping them to understand the impacts of climate change in their local areas. 

The NSW Government has also set a target in NSW 2021 of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020. In 2013, the NSW Government released the Renewable Energy Action Plan to help reach this target.

The NSW Government has set an ambitious target to assist households and businesses save 16,000 gigawatt hours in 2020 through energy efficiency. This is equivalent of the annual generation from a base load coal fired power station. In 2013, the NSW Government released the Energy Efficiency Action Plan to help households and businesses save energy and keep NSW on track to reach this target.

  • Key Targets / Successes

    GHG emissions reductions and climate policy targets:

    The NSW Government’s ten year plan, NSW 2021 sets goals and targets for practical action to tackle climate change. They include:

    • 20% renewable energy by 2020
    • annual energy savings of 16,000 gigawatt-hours by 2020 for businesses and households compared with ‘business as usual’ trends
    • delivering high standard building retrofit programs so that 50% of NSW commercial floor space achieves a 4–star NABERS energy and water rating by 2020
    • increasing the proportion of journeys made to work by public transport in the Sydney Metropolitan Region to 28% of the total by 2016
    • doubling the mode share of bicycle trips in the Greater Sydney region by 2016
    • increasing the mode share of walking trips to 25% in the Greater Sydney region by 2016
    • minimising the impacts of climate change in local communities, including developing fine scale climate change projections for NSW and making these available to local councils and the public.

    Climate actions & emissions reduction successes so far:  

    • 6.6% reduction in NSW greenhouse gas emissions between 1989/90 and 2011/12
    • Since 2009 emissions from stationary energy (including electricity generation) have decreased from a peak of 67.5 million tons CO2e to 60.5 million tons
    • 14% reduction in industrial process emissions between 2000 and 2012
    • 38% decrease in waste emissions between 1990 and 2012
    • 9,335 gigawatt hours (GWh) or 12.9% of total electricity generated in NSW generated from renewable sources in 2013
    • The share of renewable energy in NSW’s electricity generation mix has almost doubled in the past five to six years
    • NSW has supported 220,000 low-income households to reduce their energy use by up to 20%
    • In 2013/14 NSW and Commonwealth Government energy efficiency programs saved NSW an estimated 4,972 GWh of electricity
  • Current activities

    Energy efficiency

    The NSW Energy Efficiency Action Plan released in August 2013 is helping NSW households and businesses to use electricity more efficiently and reduce their electricity bills. In 2013-14 the NSW Government spent over $15 million on energy efficiency programs targeting households, businesses, community organizations and government service agencies.

    The market-based NSW Energy Saving Scheme (ESS) is the biggest single NSW program driving energy efficiency in NSW. The ESS creates a market to help households and businesses save energy. It features a legislated target for electricity retailers to purchase energy savings certificates. Energy efficiency product and service providers create certificates from energy savings activities, and sell them to electricity retailers to meet the energy savings target. The NSW Government is currently reviewing the ESS to see how it can be enhanced.

    Renewable energy

    The NSW Government is committed to promoting investment in renewable energy, and creating a secure, affordable and clean energy future for NSW. In September 2013, the NSW Government released its Renewable Energy Action Plan, which removes barriers and supports investment in renewable energy.

    The NSW Government is helping to demonstrate large-scale solar by providing $64.9 million in funding to the $450 million large scale solar installation projects at Nyngan and Broken Hill. These projects are big enough to power 50,000 homes and create around 450 jobs during construction.

    The NSW Government supports community-owned renewable energy through the Regional Clean Energy Program. This is a four-year program that aims to build an informed and engaged community through early, transparent and effective engagement, grant programs and community energy capacity building initiatives. This program helps communities better participate in and lead energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in their local area. The program operates statewide, covers all feasible renewable energy technologies, and is committed to continuing its specialized support of the community energy sector.

    Clean transport

    The NSW Government is delivering an efficient and effective transport system that reduces the time it takes to travel around Sydney and across NSW. The Government is building better public transport connections between and within population and economic centers through the development of strategic bus corridors, expanding Sydney’s light rail network, and upgrading supporting infrastructure in key centers. The NSW Government is currently constructing the 36 kilometer North West Rail Link and 31 kilometer South West Rail Link.

    The NSW Government is increasing walking and cycling to help ease transport congestion and build a healthier, more active community. The NSW Government has released Sydney’s Walking and Cycling Futures which set out plans to make walking the transport choice for quick trips under two kilometers and make cycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable transport option for short trips. The Government continues to fund and work with local councils to deliver improved and extended bicycle facilities, including completion of cycle ways in the Sydney central business district, and around major centers in the western suburbs of Sydney.

    Waste management

    The NSW Government’s Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2014-21 was released in December 2014. The strategy sets the following waste and resource recovery targets for 2021–22:

    • avoiding and reducing the amount of waste generated per person in NSW
    • increasing recycling rates to 70% for municipal solid waste, 70% for commercial and industrial waste, 80% for construction and demolition waste
    • increasing waste diverted from landfill to 75%
    • managing problem wastes better, establishing 86 drop-off facilities and services across NSW
    • reducing litter, with 40% fewer items (compared to 2012) by 2017
    • combatting illegal dumping, with 30% fewer incidents (compared to 2011) by 2017.

    Innovative Financing

    The NSW Government established the NSW Climate Change Fund in 2007 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change associated with water and energy activities. The NSW Climate Change Fund is funded through annual contributions from electricity utilities. The Fund spent $295 million in 2013–14 on a range of programs including the NSW Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the Regional Clean Energy Program. On average, every $1 the fund has invested in energy and water saving initiatives across all programs since its inception delivers more than $4.20 in utility bill savings to customers.

    The NSW Government is also making it easier for NSW businesses to access finance for environmental improvements to existing non-strata commercial and light industrial buildings through environmental upgrade agreements.

    Under these agreements, building owners can access funds from a finance provider for energy, water and other environmental improvements. The loans are repaid through the local council rates charge, so are considered to be low-risk by the financier. In commercial buildings, the cost of the upgrades may then be partly recouped from tenants, provided they are offset by reductions in energy and water bills.

    These agreements can unlock funding for cost-effective upgrades that save natural resources, reduce operating costs and improve the capital value of buildings, benefiting building owners, tenants and the environment.

  • More info

    Most important economic sectors

    The NSW economy is the largest and most diverse in Australia, with 31% of the nation’s GDP. By virtue of its size and diversity, the NSW workforce accounts for a significant share of national employment across all industries.

    NSW enjoys particular strengths in financial and insurance services, with a 42% share of national employment in 2013, as well as:

    • information media and telecommunications (39%)
    • the tourism-related accommodation and food services industry (35%)
    • wholesale trade (34%)
    • professional, scientific and technical services (33%).

    NSW also employs the most people in Australia in agriculture, forestry and fishing, with more than 91% of these workers located in regional areas.

    GHG breakdown by sector (%) in year 2012:



    Industrial Processes






    Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry


    Current power sector mix (%) in year 2013:








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