The NSW EPA has released a climate change policy that could set new emissions targets and limits. 

The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released its draft Climate Change Policy and Action Plan, which includes the power to create targets and enforceable emissions reduction limits for polluters on greenhouse gas emissions.

It is the first time in Australia that CO2 has been treated by a government agency as a “pollutant”.

EPA chief executive Tony Chappel says the agency will work with industry to hunt down “fugitive emissions”.

“There is some frustration that we haven't had a clear framework for considering those impacts, so … there will be, over time, obligations to manage those impacts right down,” he said. 

“We haven't had a clear framework for how proponents and the planning system can consider those impacts so part of this is working with Planning to improve the rigour of that.”

He said that emissions targets and limits on pollution will be set in the future, in consultation with industry. 

The EPA also said the agency will seek to avoid duplicating measures already in place, including the federal government’s “safeguard mechanism” to bring down emissions. 

The policy is part of the NSW government’s plan for a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 (from 2005 levels) and net zero emissions by 2050.

“[Climate change] touches every part of the community and every part of the economy,” Mr Chappel said.

“Over the past few years we have seen first-hand just how destructive the impacts of climate change are becoming, not only for our environment, but for NSW communities too.

“Our staff have worked around the clock with the Lismore community, restoring and recovering, cleaning up the impact of those historic floods, from the sewage plant to the landfill, which were all built to withstand a hundred-year flood.”