Media Releases - 29 August 2019

WA Government Move to Achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050 a Free Kick for the EPA

  • New target announced today aims to achieve net zero emissions across Western Australia by 2050 
  • A progressive move forward from the State Government but the minimum they could have done to match the Paris Agreement and fall in line with the other more cautious states 
  • Community pressure for progressive guidelines from the EPA on greenhouse gas emissions from future projects to ramp up in coming month

The announcement of a State Emissions target of net zero emissions by 2050 has been provisionally welcomed by The Wilderness Society in Western Australia as a progressive step forward - whilst noting there is still some way to go.  

Released by Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, in State Parliament today, it presents a cautious approach to placate both frustrated industry groups and determined community sentiment for climate change action. 

State Director, Kit Sainsbury, commented: “At an absolute minimum, let’s applaud the WA government for making some progress into producing an emissions target since this wasn’t present at all until today. We at least remove that albatross from around our necks since we were being mocked by the other states for speaking up about wanting national action but doing nothing notable to show how we were batting for the same team. Engaged industry groups have needed this clarity for some time and it enables our biggest polluters to put in place clear plans on how they will reduce their emissions. 

“This policy is important considering Western Australia has the second highest per capita emissions of all Australian states and territories, including being well above those of other developed economies, including the heavily resource based economy of Canada. We also know that the state’s emissions increased by 27 per cent over the period from 2000-2016 making it the only jurisdiction to have seen a substantial increase at the state level. 

“However, the concern is that there has been no move for the WA Government to rule out new and emerging fossil fuel developments so it is highly likely we will see an increase in emissions over the short term - further fuelling the ongoing climate fire in our state. The Environmental Protection Authority still has a key role to land on progressive guidelines which demonstrate that new projects will be regulated more closely to help us all limit the impacts of a changing climate. 

“It is an important message to the State Government, as well as nationally, that climate change is a real and present danger to all and industry must reflect this. It is all well and good each and every environmentally minded West Australian taking their own steps to reduce their global footprint but this is eradicated by huge industry emitters releasing tonnes of GHGs into the atmosphere. This is a poignant and well needed directional measure by the Energy Minister. We encourage the State Government to continue to work collaboratively with the independent EPA on their new guidelines, which should aim for tighter measures on emerging proposals. 

“The irony is not lost that the WA Government chose to release information on this new emissions target on the hottest August day ever recorded in Perth. When people are out swimming at the beach in winter across the Perth area it is clear that we have a changing climate that we must all take responsibility to fix. 

“We encourage all engaged Western Australians to make a submission to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Guidelines Consultation process to ensure that your voice is heard and considered”.

The Environmental Protection Authority’s Consultation Process ends on Monday 2 September and further information can be found here.

For further comment contact Kit Sainsbury, State Director, on 94207255.