THE McGowan government released its new climate policy this week, but it has already been criticised as a lukewarm response putting WA behind other states.
The policy promises heavy investment in promoting electric vehicle uptake, funding for a mammoth battery in the old Kwinana Power Station to support a renewable grid, and funding for a green jobs plan.
Premier Mark McGowan said in a statement: “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.”
“It will also leverage our state’s enormous natural advantages to build clean industries, and jobs that come with it, and transition existing industries to low carbon operations.”
In the lead up to the policy’s release the state government was lobbied by the WA branch of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change to do more.
Members from Perth’s Muslim, Buddhist, Bah, Catholic and other Christian communities held a candlelight vigil outside parliament on November 17 calling for reduced emissions instead of allowing new fossil fuel gas developments.
With the policy’s release, one of the ARRCC’s member groups the Uniting Church WA says it was a missed opportunity.
Susy Thomas, moderator of the Uniting Chruch WA, issued a statement saying: “There are lots of promising project announcements collated here, many of which are welcome starting points, but what we are really looking for in a state climate policy are concrete parameters and an overarching plan for how to transition our economy and reduce emissions.
“As a church, we care deeply about the environment and the most vulnerable in our community. That is why our last Synod meeting in September called for a COVID-19 recovery package that prioritised both renewable energy and social housing.
“We see other states making very strong commitments for climate action and we really hoped that WA would follow suit.
“Unfortunately this State Climate Policy leaves us lagging behind other states even though we have the strongest economy and a $1.2 billion surplus. This means we still have the opportunity to boost our climate commitments as we move into 2021.
“Given we have had rising emissions in WA over recent years largely due to the gas industry, it is troubling to see no requirements or clear plan for reducing emissions from that sector in particular.”
She says while there are some welcome initiatives coming through in WA like the renewable hydrogen, batteries and electric vehicles plans, WA’s funding commitments are much more modest than other states. And we still don’t have a renewable energy target, just an “aspirational net-zero by 2050” goal.