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WA Green MP Brad Pettitt to introduce emissions bill as Labor rejects ‘open instrument’

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Western Australia is known for its pristine beaches and endless sunshine.

But there is a less desirable claim to fame as one of the two Australian states and territories where greenhouse gas emissions are higher than they were in 2005.

WA Green MP Brad Pettitt will present a bill in the state parliament today in a bid to legislate a reduction in emissions and exploit what he describes as a global “climate moment”.

The Bill on Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction seeks to reduce WA net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent from 2005 levels by mid-2030.

A series of white turbines off the coast of Albany in Western Australia
Western Australia has ideal conditions for wind and solar power generation.(ABC Great Southern: Tim Wong-See)

The ultimate goal is to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

“All the evidence [suggests]if you want [take]action that complements science and leads us to a rapid transition to net zero, you need to have goals for this decade and that is at the heart of this bill, “Pettitt said.

With WA emissions in 2019 increasing by 20.8 percent compared to 2005 levels, achieving these targets will require significant support from the mining industry.

The Western Australian Minerals Research Institute (MRIWA) says miners are already on the table, with more than 100 industry representatives attending a zero-emission inaugural conference this week.

The WA CME chief executive in a gray suit and chestnut speaks in front of a background of green plants.
Nicole Roocke says WA should strive to be recognized as “the world’s number one net zero emission jurisdiction”.(ABC News: James Carmody)

“When we started this conversation about 12 months ago, there were some warm projects … but escalating and strengthening the work that is going on is important,” said MRIWA CEO Nicole Roocke.

“There are some companies that have been on this trip for several years; others have not started yet.

WA in danger of being left behind: Green MP

Australia ‘s approach to climate action is under global scrutiny ahead of this month’ s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

While the Federal Coalition is still negotiating a climate policy to take it to the summit, Treasury Josh Frydenberg has publicly backed a 2050 zero-emission target, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wants the same “possibly” by 2050 .

Smoke comes out of steel works
The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference will negotiate enhanced climate action by all 197 member states.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

State Level They, South Australia and Victoria have legitimized the targets, while Tasmania this week announced its intention to legislate an ambitious goal of zero emissions by 2030.

Meanwhile, the Queensland parliament voted to formally approve a net zero target by 2050 and New South Wales recently committed to halving greenhouse gas pollution by 2030, although these targets are not sanctioned by law.

The WA government has committed to zero emissions by 2050, issuing a climate policy in 2020 that sets out strategies to achieve it.

Mr Pettitt said the state must now adopt that goal or risk being left behind.

“We are a kind of backward state in the disobedient country and that really needs to change,” he said.

“This is a great opportunity for Western Australia [but] having no objectives [and]not to stand up when it comes to climate means that the investment will pass us by ”.

Pettitt’s bill also sets a target for increasing the state’s renewable energy production from its current level of 24 percent to 90 percent by 2030.

“WA is well established; we have the best sun and wind sources in the world, we have ample soil and we have smart people who are capable of doing these jobs,” he said.

“What we lack is political leadership and those clear objectives that can give the private sector security and give investors security so that jobs can follow.”

Mr Pettitt acknowledged that the bill had little chance of being passed in its current form, but said he hoped it would put pressure on the state government to legally formalize its commitment to zero emissions by 2050.

Legislation an ‘open instrument’: Minister

Amber-Jade Sanderson, WA Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Trade, said Labor would not support the bill.

“The government is reviewing legislation on climate targets and actions … but legislation can be a really open and inflexible instrument,” she said.

“These objectives will have to change over time and every time we need to change the objective, we will have to go back to parliament to change it. [it]with

“There are mechanisms we are considering that have more flexibility but are workable.”

WA Minister of Environment Amber-Jade Sanderson.
WA Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson says the legislation could be an “open and inflexible instrument”.(ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)

Sanderson says the government will consult with industry and set interim targets following the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

“It would be preventive to announce objectives before what is probably one of the most important international meetings we have seen in the last decade on this issue,” she said.

“We are very focused on working with the industry [and]working with the communities that will be affected as we move the WA to a sustainable state of resources. “

“Choice is not just an option”

Nationals WA executive Mia Davies was waiting to see the details of the bill, but told ABC her party wanted to be part of the discussion.

“We support sensitive transitions and the use of an energy mix that allows us to reduce our emissions in Western Australia,” she said.

“Giving up is not just an option.”

The WA nationalists approved a motion at the party’s state conference over the weekend in support of a net zero emissions target by 2050.

The pressure is also coming from the next generation of executives, with students leaving classes earlier this year to demand climate action.

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