A lack of proper consultation and clarity over WA’s landmark climate change bill is putting vital action on climate at risk, according to a number of the state’s leading climate and conservation groups.
27 organisations, including the Conservation Council of WA, Greenpeace and the Western Australian Council of Social Services have issued a joint statement urging the state government to extend the consultation period for the proposed bill - which will end on Tuesday – and to allow the public to have their say on the future of the state’s climate legislation.
The proposed WA Climate Change Bill was unveiled by the WA State Government in January this year and will enshrine the state’s 2050 net-zero emissions target in law, following the lead of other states like Victoria and Tasmania.
It will introduce five-yearly interim emissions targets, to be set by the state government, which would apply across the entire WA economy. The WA Environment and Climate Action Minister will also be required to make annual reports to the state parliament, detailing progress towards WA’s emissions reductions targets.
However, a truncated four-week consultation period – which has limited conversations about the bill to a few ‘stakeholder groups’, but not the general public - has attracted criticism from climate advocates.
“Given the importance of the bill as a public interest matter of the highest importance, it demands an informed and transparent consultative process”, the joint statement reads.
“Many community groups and members of the public are not even aware that the bill is being consulted on.
“(…) we call on the WA Government to extend the consultation period, open it to the whole community, and release the draft wording of the bill to ensure the process can be truly community-informed, fair and transparent.”
The organisations have also expressed concern that the proposed bill, in its current form, does not include a 2030 interim statewide emissions reductions target, something which has formed a key part of legislation introduced by other states and the Federal Government.
Anna Chapman, Fossil Fuels Program Manager at the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), said the new bill would set WA’s approach to emissions reduction for decades to come.
“This bill comes at a crucial time for addressing our state’s emissions crisis”, she said.
“We cannot allow ourselves to look back on this moment as yet another missed opportunity to take responsibility for WA’s considerable contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and set a standard for action on climate change.
“It is vital that the state government allows all Western Australians to have their say on this issue. We have all seen the marked increase in the frequency and severity of bushfires, droughts and flooding in recent years, all exacerbated by increases in global temperature. This is an issue that will continue to affect us all and it is only right that the state government allows the time and resources for a proper public consultation.”
Jess Panegyres, Head of Clean Energy Transition at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said: “All West Australians should be able to input into this critical piece of climate legislation.
“Right now, our collective future depends on the WA Government’s climate ambition and its willingness to embrace a clean energy future. If the WA government continues its expansion of the climate-wrecking gas industry and approves Woodside’s Burrup Hub - the most polluting new fossil fuel project proposed in Australia - the climate benefits of this bill will be gravely undermined.”
IPCC report author and climate scientist Dr Bill Hare from Climate Analytics said: “It is critical that WA’s climate legislation has a very strong scientific basis, with an independent statutory body advising government on targets and progress towards those.”
Organisations which have signed the statement: Conservation Council of WA, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Environs Kimberley, Doctors for the Environment Australia, 350 Australia, Perth Hills Climate Change Interest Group, The Beeliar Group of Professors for Environmental Responsibility, WA Climate Leaders, Australian Conservation Foundation Perth Community Group, Climate Justice Union, Lock the Gate Alliance, The Wilderness Society WA, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia, ARRCC - Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Western Australian Council of Social Services, WA Green Urology Network, Climate Action Nurses, Climate Analytics, Nature Conservation Margaret River Region, Australian Youth Climate Coalition WA, Urban Bushland Council, Green Theatres Network Western Australia, Save Beeliar Wetlands, Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor, West Australian Tree Canopy Advocates, Public Health Association of Australia, Sustainable Energy Now
MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost nonprofit, non-government conservation organisation representing nearly 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia. For more information, visit: ccwa.org.au.
CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please call 0412 272 570