The Western Australian government has committed to a net zero transition across the state public sector as part of its new climate policy, unveiled on Monday.
Under the policy, state government agencies — including government trading enterprises — will be required to develop and implement plans to transition toward net zero emissions by 2050.
The document outlines six key areas to ensure the environment, economy and community are more resilient and better prepared for the “unavoidable” impacts of climate change: clean manufacturing and future industries; transforming energy generation and use; storing carbon and caring for landscapes; lower carbon transport; resilient cities and regions; and government leadership.
The plan demonstrates WA’s commitment to work with all sectors of the economy to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to environment minister Stephen Dawson.
“The policy enhances Western Australia’s climate resilience and capacity to thrive in a low-carbon future.These actions accelerate the energy and technology transformations already underway and assist in building a cleaner, greener economy,” he said.
“A coordinated approach to climate change will ensure we contribute to national emissions reductions and leverage our competitive advantages as an emerging clean energy superpower.”
A key aspect of the policy is a $21 million electric vehicle strategy, which will see the establishment of an EV charging infrastructure network from Perth to Kununurra in the North, Esperance in the South, and Kalgoorlie in the East. The network will be the longest in Australia and one of the longest in the world.
The government has set a target of acquiring at least 25% electric vehicles across eligible vehicles in the state government fleet, and EV charging stations will be installed in government buildings.
To facilitate EV uptake, the government will also develop and update standards, guidelines, and requirements for planning approval, and improve consumer awareness and knowledge.
Premier Mark McGowan said the global uptake of electric vehicles is “one of the most exciting” opportunities for WA to create jobs and support the economy as part of a low-carbon transition.
“Electric vehicles provide a pathway towards decarbonising road transport and improving air quality in Western Australia. The industry also has huge potential to create jobs for Western Australians,” he said.
“Western Australia has the skills, infrastructure and standards to become a key player in the global battery value chain.”
Another aspect of the plan is an investment of more than $100 million towards a 100 megawatt big battery, which will have the capacity to power 160,000 homes for two hours.
Housed at the decommissioned Kwinana Power Station, the battery will “support integration of more renewable energy and improve grid security”. A contract is expected to be awarded by May 2021 with the battery to be operational as early as September 2022.
Other initiatives funded under the strategy include:
- $15 million for the WA Carbon Farming Strategy and Land Restoration Program,
- $3.1 million for the Climate Science Program for improved climate change projections,
- $15 million Renewable Hydrogen Fund, plus $13 million funding to support the fledgling industry,
- $60 million Green Jobs Plan,
- $9.2 million Clean Energy Future Fund,
- Renewable Hydrogen Strategy,
- Future Battery Industry Strategy.
McGowan said the policy highlights the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing jobs, and growing the economy as the state continues its recovery from COVID-19.
“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,” he 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. 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.”
The premier said his government would continue to advocate for national, uniform action to reduce emissions.