W.A. councils demand “true to science” 50% renewable state target
A group of 21 Western Australian councils have called on the state’s Labor government to adopt targets for a 50% renewable electricity supply by 2030, and net-zero emissions by 2050.
The push for “courageous” and “true to science” targets for the state was made by the local government alliance during this week’s Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership forum in Perth that Azility attended.
Specifically, the councils want a 50% state-wide renewable energy target by 2030, a 65% state-wide emissions reduction target by 2030, and a 100% emissions reduction target by 2050.
Western Australia remains one of only two of Australia’s states and Territories – alongside New South Wales – yet to introduce a state renewable energy target, and is the only one without a net zero emissions target.
Not surprisingly, this has seen the state lag behind the rest of Australia on the uptake of renewables, with just 16.2% of its electricity sourced from clean energy generation in 2018.
By comparison, its much smaller eastern neighbours of South Australia (with a state RET of 75% by 2030) and Victoria (VRET 50% by 2040) had, respectively, 53% and 20.6% of their electricity come from renewables that same year.
“Western Australia has lagged in this space for the last decade but now is the time for the state government to step up to work with local government to realise our state’s potential as a renewable energy powerhouse and realise the opportunities for jobs and investment that go with it,” said the Mayor of Fremantle, Dr Brad Pettitt.
“These targets are ambitious but entirely doable with the right political leadership and investment decisions over the next decade.”
For its part, the McGowan government has continued to insist that W.A. does not need a state renewable energy target of its own, and instead in March unveiled “whole of system” plans to facilitate the shift from coal to a grid dominated by renewables.
And – it should be noted – there is plenty going on in the state at the moment, including plans for its biggest wind farm yet, and the massive 11GW plans for a huge wind solar hybrid project in the Pilbara region.
But of course, it is not only an energy sector issue. Climate policy is so far relatively absent in the state, too.
“The Western Australian government is currently developing its climate policy and we are calling on the McGowan government to be bold, courageous and true to the science by committing to ambitious emissions reduction target and renewable energy targets,” said Augusta-Margaret River councillor, Naomi Godden.
“Local governments and our communities are on the frontline of the climate crisis. The community in Augusta-Margaret River is already experiencing reduced rainfall and increased risk of fire causing great concern amongst residents. Our most vulnerable community members are most at risk such as low-income earners and independent farmers.
“We need leadership for urgent action by our state government and we feel these are the minimum targets that will get us there.”
Tracie Armstrong, who headed up the Cities Power Partnership forum as the organisation’s acting director, said state targets were crucial to support local government work on climate change.
“The councils we spoke to today are primed and ready to tackle climate change, but without a state renewable energy and emissions reduction target it’s difficult for them to attract the investment and support they need to get these projects underway,” she said.
“With a courageous state clean energy target that matches the climate science, Western Australia could swiftly become a renewables leader.”
LIST OF COUNCILS ATTENDING THE FORUM
City of Albany
City of Armadale
Shire of Augusta Margaret River
Town of Bassendean
City of Bayswater
City of Belmont
Town of Cambridge
City of Canning
City of Cockburn
Shire of Chittering
Shire of Donnybrook Balingup
City of Fremantle
City of Gosnells
City of Melville
Mundaring Shire Council
Shire of Northam
City of Rockingham
City of Subiaco
City of Swan
Victoria Park Town Council
The City of Vincent