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A Reflection on the WA Government Announcement of a Legislated Emissions Target (Part one)

25 January 2023

Let’s start with the positive; it is great to hear the McGowan Government acknowledging the urgency of climate action. To hear Minster Whitby say: “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our lifetime” was a pleasing shift by a government that has been largely silent on this issue so far.

About 18 months I introduced legislation to the WA Parliament – jointly written by WA’s climate leaders – with science-based targets for 2030.

The McGowan Government didn’t support this legislation calling legislated targets a “blunt instrument”. I am glad 18 months on the State Government have had a partial change of heart, recognizing that legislated targets are essential to drive change and provide investor certainty.

While this week’s announcement that the McGowan government plans to legislate economy-wide to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is a welcome first step what is missing and what is really needed is a 2030 target.

Having a 2050 target without a 2030 target allows the State Government and the WA’s worst emitters to proceed with business as usual.  It applies no new urgency to the situation. This is the decade that matters. As they say: “Delay is the new denial” when it comes to climate.

Scientists say emissions reductions of at least 50% by 2030 on 2005 levels are the only credible pathway to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. This is what most states have already committed. Even the liberal-led state of NSW is going much further and faster than WA, committing to slashing pollution by 70% by 2035.

WA needs to get moving. This is a good first step but the real test will be what will WA’s targets be for this decade.


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