Rob Stokes

UPDATED 4 February 2015: The NSW government has become the first conservative government in Australia to join the not-for-profit The Climate Group, which works with corporates and governments to develop climate finance mechanisms, business models that promote innovation and climate-supportive policy frameworks.

  • UPDATE: An industry source contacting The Fifth Estate after this article was published, said the former Labor NSW Government was a member of The Climate Group when the Coalition won office.  Other state Labor governments were also members until conservative governments replaced them. “Victoria was the first Australian member followed by South Australia and Queensland, and WA were members too when there were Labor governments,” the source said. The Queensland government is still listed as a member of the group.

According to NSW environment minister Rob Stokes, the move is part of the government’s responsibilities around climate change adaptation.

“In 2012, the COAG Select Council on Climate Change agreed to adopt roles and responsibilities for climate change. Since this time there has been bipartisan agreement that the focus for states should be on climate change adaptation,” Mr Stokes said.

“By becoming a member of The Climate Group, NSW will have the opportunity to share our increasing knowledge and to access world best practice adaptation strategies being used by other states and cities.”

Mr Stokes said his government believed sustainable economic growth and environmental conservation were “intrinsically linked aspirations”.

“We are already working hard to make sure that there are no barriers to businesses making decisions that environmentally, and economically, make sense. For instance, the government is committed to the NSW Energy Savings Scheme, where businesses and households save significant money and demonstrate how industry can simultaneously deliver savings and environmental improvement,” he said.

The government joins South Australia and Tasmania as members of the group, both of which signed up under Labor governments.

It’s a further move in the green direction for the NSW government, after its recent Government Resource Efficiency Policy, and support for the Renewable Energy Target, which put it at odds with other conservative governments across the country.

“Better environmental strategies and improved sustainability is an economic opportunity,” Mr Stokes said. “It is good business, and it is business that we want in NSW.”