McGowan unveils climate policy

THE Western Australian government has unveiled its Climate Policy, as it vowed to work with all sectors of the economy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
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Mark Tilly

Journalist

Mark Tilly

 

The policy admits doing so will be challenging, given the state's energy-intensive industries and projected growth in the resources sector, and does not set any new interim emission reduction targets, keeping it's goal of net-zero by 2050 ‘aspirational'.

The state's greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise over the last five years, predominantly off the back of the LNG industry. 

The National Emissions Quarterly released yesterday saw LNG export-related emissions climb 6% to June 2020, contributing 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, however net fugitive emissions declined over the same period due to CO2 injection in WA and reduced levels of flaring. 

The WA policy said it is doing its part by requiring new proposals or expansions undergoing environmental impact assessment to set interim and long-term emission reduction targets consistent with the state's net-zero aspiration. 

The government will also collaborate with businesses and research institutions to support development of new technology, including its A$15 million Renewable Hydrogen Fund. 

"The policy commits to tangible initiatives to enhance climate resilience, transition the State to a low carbon economy, and help the community to adapt to the impacts of climate change," premier Mark McGowan said. 

"It positions Western Australia to respond decisively to climate change and to capture opportunities of a low carbon future as we continue on the path to recovery."

Climate activist group 350 Boorloo Perth told Energy News the policy's lack of new interim targets was "disappointing", saying more needed to be done to reduce WA's LNG-related emissions.

"A serious climate policy would force emissions reductions on WA's highest emitting industry. This policy does no such thing," 350 Boorloo Perth campaigner Anthony Collins said. 

"With no sufficient interim targets to begin reducing emissions, our state is lacking a road map to lead us to net zero."

While large parts of the government's Climate Change policy comes from previously announced funding, including its $60 million Green Jobs Plan, it announced a range of new measures from EVs to batteries.  

It announces that $100 million will to go toward the 100MW big battery project proposed for the old Kwinana Power Station. The government expects a contract for the project will be awarded by May 2021 and the battery could be online by September 2022. 

The policy also envelopes the government's newly released Electric Vehicle Policy, which commits A$21 million to go toward installing charging infrastructure across the state, the largest spend of any state or territory, according to the government.

The network will be one of the largest continuous EV charging networks in the world, running from Esperance in the east, through the South West, Perth, before heading north reaching as far as Kunanuara. 

"The global uptake of electric vehicles is one of the most exciting opportunities for Western Australia to create jobs and support economic growth in the economy as part of the low-carbon transition," McGowan said. 

The policy estimates EVs will reach price parity with combustion engine vehicles in the next five years, and mandates that 25% of new government vehicles be electric by 2025-26.