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Climate and the Role of States

12 August 2021

In the WA Parliament I made the following speech on Thursday the 12th of August 2021

I rise to speak again about the need for greater climate action.

It has been heartening to the Minister for Agriculture and Food stating that this week’s IPCC report is “yet another graphic reminder that we need to move quickly on climate change mitigation.”

Less heartening is that Minister McTiernan is to the best of my knowledge the only person in either house from either the government or the opposition to speak in the parliament on climate change or the IPCC report this week

The Minister for Climate Action did however put out a Facebook post which is worth sharing:

The alarming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report confirms Australia must do better.

The Federal Government has no firm plan to get to net zero and their COP26 targets fall well short of those submitted by other resource reliant nations including the US and Canada.

This is simply not good enough and the Federal Government must increase their ambitions.

The McGowan Government is committed to transitioning the state’s economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through important policies focused on sustainable industries including hydrogen, carbon farming, batteries and electric vehicles.

I want to congratulate the McGowan government on these policies. They are steps in the right directions.

But I also want to be very clear these policies are not sufficient to get WA to net zero or to reduce our emissions in any way close to what the climate science clearly says we must.

As the rather nebulous answers to my questions to this House have illustrated there is no clear public pathway to reduce WA’s emissions consistent with the science which would see WA’s emissions drop by 45-50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

There was an opinion piece in The West by Peter Law today titled “ALP can end its green daze: Dramatic UN report on climate change can spur real action”. It describes the government’s Western Australian Climate Policy “as a vague document padded out with motherhood statements”

The minister’s Facebook post also tries to put the blame at the feet of the federal government.

I agree 100% that the federal government must do more but this should be no excuse for this state failing to take clear and decisive action.

All levels of government must lead. We are seeing this at a local level.

The City of Fremantle was the first carbon neutral local government in WA second in Australia after City of Sydney. Freo has a target of 100% renewable energy by 2025.

City of Subiaco also aims to have 100% renewable energy by 2025 and has a target to have reduced operational greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 consistent with the science.

The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has gone further and committed to net zero emissions by 2030 for both community and corporate carbon emissions

It is not just local governments who are acting. Other states are also acting and setting serious targets both short and long term.

Victoria was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to legislate a net-zero emissions target It has targets to reduce the state’s emissions from 2005 levels  by 28-33 per cent by 2025 and 45-50 per cent by 2030 

NSW plans to reduce emissions by 35% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. It has a net zero 2050 target

One of my favourite quotes is that if you want to understand the priorities of a organisation or even a state then look not just at their policies but their budget. Pleasingly NSW has set recently aside $750 million for its plan to cut carbon emissions. This is a state led by the Liberal Party I would add.

South Australia Net zero by 2050. Ambition for 100% renewables by 2030. Currently over 55% renewable energy generation  SA has already recorded over 32% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels

Even QLD  has a indepth transition strategy commits to achieve net zero by 2050 and at least 30% by 2030 Powering Queensland with 50% renewables by 2030 

ACT  Already 100% renewable energy. 50% emission reductions by 2025. 65% emission reductions  by 2030 net zero by 2045. Shane Rattenbury (Greens) is their climate minister.

But WA is falling behind as the only state with no plan for 2030 let alone a clear pathway to or commitment to net zero 2050. We are the only state with emission rising.

State vs Fed responsibility 

Claiming that emissions reductions are purely the responsibility of the Federal Government is not correct and is frankly a cop out.

A paper prepared by the University of Melbourne in 2018 showed that state governments hold key legislative powers for advancing climate action in at least eight key areas including;4 

  • Energy 
  • Transport 
  • Buildings 
  • Planning 
  • Agriculture 
  • Forests

So returning to the Climate Actions Minister’s post I am glad she is calling out the Federal Government and asking them to increase their ambition.

But I hoped what members take away from what I have shared today is that WA must also increase its climate ambition.

We are the laggard state of the laggard nation.

There is so much opportunity for us to turn this crisis into opportunity. This is going to require leadership on both sides of this house.

Our biggest enemy is no longer climate denial but climate delay and silence.

I look forward to working with you to speed up climate action in our state.


State of Play: Renewable Energy Leaders and Losers | Report | Climate Council 

ACT Climate Change Strategy to 2019-25 

northern-territory-climate-change-response-towards-2050.pdf ( 

State leadership on emissions reduction is crucial | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne ( 

UOM_GrowingACleanEconomy.indd ( 

Department for Environment and Water | South Australian Government Climate Change Action Plan 2021 – 2025 


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