NSW govt 'split' on climate change: Labor

NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay says recent events like bushfires should be a 'massive wake-up call'.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay says recent events like bushfires should be a 'massive wake-up call'.

NSW's opposition leader believes the events of recent weeks should be "a massive wake-up call" for the state government, with climate change hitting hard as smoke blanketed Sydney off the back of prolonged drought and ongoing bushfires.

But Jodi McKay argues the coalition is "fatally split" on the issue and that it has floated a plan for new greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that lacks detail "making it little more than a prayer".

Her comments come after bushfires and smoke pollution reignited the debate over climate change with thousands of people rallying in Sydney to demand action.

Environment Minister Matt Kean made the government's strongest statement linking climate change and the unprecedented blazes, before revealing the coalition would adopt an interim target as NSW worked towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

The interim 2030 target - reportedly a 35 per cent reduction - will be revealed next year along with a plan to achieve it.

The environment minister was congratulated for his leadership by the Climate Council on Friday with head of research Martin Rice saying he had "connected the dots and shown political courage when it is sorely needed".

"He has publicly acknowledged that climate change is worsening bushfires and the need to urgently reduce our emissions," Dr Rice said in a statement.

"NSW was once a world leader on climate change, with the world's first mandatory emissions reduction scheme and this week minister Kean has taken steps to get them back in the game."

But Ms McKay said while Mr Kean was being "hailed for admitting climate change is real" the state was being run by "a cabal of cabinet ministers in charge of major portfolios".

"These people simply do not believe in climate change or that the government must take action to address it," she said in a statement.

Ms McKay said the events of recent weeks should be a "massive wake-up call" and short and long-term action was needed - including a comprehensive energy policy with a renewable energy target.

"We must overhaul strategies in everything from water management to bushfire prevention to clean air," she said.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance on Friday denied the debate around climate change had split cabinet.

He told reporters in Sydney that while climate change was "playing its part in terms of the overall global warming" the debate around recent fires needs to be had "in the context of everything".

Australian Associated Press