Western Australia’s Labor government has chosen to develop a new and improved climate change policy for the state. The current Western Australia climate change strategy, Adapting to Our Changing Climate, was released in 2012 and was developed in the context of a national carbon price. Since then, there have been advances in climate science and changes in national policy.
While it is acknowledged that the Federal Government must lead the way at a national level to address the impacts of climate change, the State Government has a role to play.
Western Australia is particularly exposed to impacts from national greenhouse gas policies because of its energy-intensive, resource-based economy.
The State is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The south-west is a global biodiversity hotspot under pressure from habitat destruction. It is also one of the most fire-prone regions in the world and one of the places on the planet most impacted from reduced rainfall.
Climate impacts in WA include decreasing rainfall, an increase in extreme weather events, bushfires and coastal erosion, as well as changing patterns of disease – all of which have the capacity to adversely affect primary industries, infrastructure, terrestrial and marine ecosystems and communities.
There are a number of climate-related initiatives already underway in WA, including measures to enhance renewable energy (including renewable hydrogen), strategies to secure our water supplies to offset a significant decline in rainfall (including recycled water and desalination), accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles, and unlock our State’s significant carbon sequestration potential.
A State climate policy will draw together and build on these measures.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Climate Change Unit will co-ordinate the new policy over the next 12 months.
WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said, “Many climate change issues are already being addressed by State agencies, industry and the community – but we can all do better.
“There’s more we can do to reduce the risks, the impacts and the costs. And there’s more we can do to improve the resilience of our communities and our environment.
“The ongoing uncertainty at the national level has made it challenging for States and Territories to develop a considered response to climate change.
“But there are measures we can take to ensure Western Australia is well-positioned in the face of rapid technological change and a changing climate – whatever the position of the Commonwealth Government.”