Fact sheet: Climate Change Policy and Action Plan - information for proponents and licensees

We are working in partnership with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, and the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure, to ensure climate change is adequately addressed by proponents of activities we’ll regulate, and that approvals contain appropriate conditions. We are supporting our licensees to take action to decarbonise and build resilience to climate change.

Our Climate Change Policy and Action Plan

Our Climate Change Policy and Climate Change Action Plan: 2023–26 adopt, support and build on foundations set by the NSW Government. These foundations include the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework, the Net Zero Plan, Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, and various supporting policies and strategies.

These documents set out clear expectations and a regulatory framework to support licensed industries to decarbonise and build resilience to climate change.

If you are planning to carry out activities that need an environment protection licence from the EPA, you will be subject to the regulatory approach and relevant actions set out in the policy and action plan.

What to expect during the planning assessment process

We’re progressing critical work to ensure climate change is not only adequately considered in the planning process but embedded into our licencing and compliance frameworks for all new projects. We’re currently working with partner agencies to develop:

  • a Protection of the Environment Policy for sustainable construction, promoting low-carbon design and construction, and increased use of remanufactured waste in public infrastructure projects (Action 5c)
  • climate change assessment requirements and guidance to support proponents to adequately consider climate change through the environmental impact assessment process and develop climate change mitigation and adaptation plans. We’re initially focusing on the greenhouse gas mitigation component of these requirements, the supporting guidance and plans. Once these greenhouse gas components are more progressed, we’ll be expanding our focus to better address climate change adaptation (Action 5c).
  • sector-specific best practice guidance, to support industry’s transition to net zero and help build resilience to the impacts of climate change, starting with the mining sector (Action 5c, 17)
  • appropriate climate-change-related conditions of approval (with DPE) (Action 5c, Action 18)
  • a practical policy for applying GHG emission limits and other requirements (including offsets) on licences, following development approval.

We will apply new or interim approaches to project proposals as we implement our action plan. For example, we’ve already started applying interim climate change assessment requirements to project proposals that will have large greenhouse gas emissions.

For projects that were already well progressed through the planning system when our policy and action plan were released, we will work closely with DPE to consider how climate change advice should be provided with respect to each project, on a case-by-case basis.

What to expect once you have a licence

We will support our licensees to take action to decarbonise and build resilience to climate change. We are currently progressing several actions under our action plan that will affect our licensees in the short- to medium- term. For example, we will:

  • progressively require and support our licensees to prepare, implement and report on climate change mitigation and adaptation plans (Action 5b)
  • develop a series of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and related pathways for key industry sectors we license, to help guide our regulatory effort (Action 16)
  • progressively place greenhouse gas emission limits and other requirements on licences for key industry sectors (aligning with and complementing the Commonwealth Government’s Safeguard Mechanism – see below), including the potential for enhanced monitoring requirements for key sectors and the possible requirement to contribute to area-based monitoring networks (Action 18)

Our licensees must respond to these and or other actions relevant to their sector as we progressively implement them. This may include a licence variation to implement new climate change requirement (once developed) or requirements imposed via a regulation or other regulatory instrument.

Our actions will be staged

We will be implementing our climate change actions in a staged way (described in section 2 of our action plan). We will work together with our regulated community to give them time to consider and respond to new information, and to plan and to adjust to new obligations. This staged approach provides greater certainty to industries we regulate and enables us to work with them to minimise potential compliance costs.

The EPA’s climate change actions will be staged, progressive and iterative – allowing time for licensees to adjust and for data to inform what actions must be taken and where.

1. Listen and gather information 2. Set targets and provide guidance 3. Enable and require 4. Require improved performance
  • Survey licensees
  • Research, analysis and consultation
  • Set emission reduction targets for key industry sectors
  • Provide climate change mitigation and adaptation guidance

Existing licensees

  • Emission benchmarking against guidance
  • Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Plans (CCMAPs)

New licensees

  • Set best practice standards
  • CCMAPs
  • Limits and requirements

Existing licensees

  • Range of tools to require performance
    e.g. pollution reduction programs

New licensees

  • Ensure best practice
  • CCMAPs
  • Set emission limits and requirements on licences


  • CCMAPs = climate change mitigation and adaptation plans
  • PRPs = pollution reduction programs

Alignment with Safeguard Mechanism obligations

We are working closely with our Commonwealth Government colleagues to ensure our climate change approaches complement (and do not conflict with or duplicate) actions being taken at the Commonwealth level, especially the Safeguard Mechanism (under the Australian Government’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007).

While the Safeguard Mechanism provides minimum requirements for the highest emitting facilities, it is important that the EPA and the consent authority:

  • properly understand the potential greenhouse gas emissions associated with a proposed new or significantly modified development and
  • ensure that all proponents are adequately avoiding, minimising and managing their emissions over all stages of the development.

Opportunities to inform this work

We will provide opportunities for stakeholders to inform this work. This may be through industry sector advisory groups in the first instance.