It’s a COP-out

Bid for global enviro conference falls short

A BID for Perth to host the world’s biggest climate change conference has been shot down.

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas says there’s no chance Perth council alone could win hosting rights without state and federal government backing.

At Perth council’s November meeting councillor Brent Fleeton moved an ambitious motion calling for a campaign for Perth to host an upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in 2024 (COP29).

“If we lose this to Adelaide we’re going to look bloody ridiculous,” Cr Fleeton said.

“The conference would be the most important economic development opportunity for our city and our ratepayers since CHOGM in 2011,” he said, referring to the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which brought in thousands of people to Perth from 51 member countries.

“Having this conference in Perth as we debate the future of how we produce and consume energy as a society makes sense as WA is the energy capital of the world.

“This will be a coming together of the best minds in energy climate change tech and public policy, and the benefits to our city, our state and our country are both obvious but too many to list,” including positioning WA as a prime state to lead a clean energy future. 

Cr Fleeton said Mr Zempilas’ high profile and “considerable personal network” could be drawn on to get allies on board to make the bid a success.

He proposed setting aside $250,000 to research the plan and advocate for Perth as host, and said if COP29 wasn’t a goer then they could try to nab a future conference like COP31 which is planned for 2026.

But federal climate change minister Chris Bowen has already indicated Australia wouldn’t bid for COP29 in 2024, and instead announced Australia would seek to co-host COP31 alongside Pacific Island nations. That probably means an eastern states city would get the gig, being closer to those islands.

Mr Zempilas stated: “I absolutely admire the spirit and ambition of Cr Fleeton’s notice of motion,” but then related his experience with the difficulty of trying to get things happening in Perth without state or federal government support.

Mr Zempilas had wanted the 2026 Commonwealth Games to come to Perth but without state government backing it went to Victoria. He then set his sights on Perth hosting the Special Olympics in 2027, but announced at last week’s council meeting “it would appear as though that is not going to happen”.

One bid he did have success on was bringing the 2021 AFL grand final here – it had backing from the McGowan government.

“Without the state government saying ‘we’re in’, it doesn’t matter what the lord mayor or the City of Perth say,” Mr Zempilas said, noting without that backing “it could ultimately prove to be a waste of taxpayer money”.

A narrow majority of councillors agreed with Mr Zempilas and voted down the COP29 idea, three votes to four.

The council instead endorsed Mr Zempilas’ backup plan to spend up to $250,000 on a campaign to try to host the 2023 World Energy Cities Partnership AGM, a smaller, less exciting, but more plausible prospect.

by DAVID BELL

One response to “It’s a COP-out

  1. Don’t worry Basil we don’t want these toxic people to come and pollute our beautiful environment anyway.

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