Tackling the drivers of climate change is a high priority for CCWA that informs much of our advocacy and community engagement agenda.
Climate change presents a fundamental threat to Western Australia’s environment, our communities, and our way of life. Yet WA carbon emissions are increasing and our state is lagging behind other jurisdictions in tackling the drivers of climate change.
The immediate priority for CCWA’s climate change work has been to prevent new fossil fuel developments, including the establishment of a new onshore gas fracking industry which has the potential to rapidly increase our state’s emissions. Tackling existing emissions sources such as LNG, coal burning, native vegetation clearing, and forest logging have also been important areas of work for CCWA this year.
In addition to directly tackling these emissions sources, CCWA has continued to work in partnerships with a range of organisations to broaden and strengthen the community consensus in support of climate action and a just transition to renewable energy in Western Australia.
Hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', is an extremely polluting method of onshore gas extraction. At a commercial scale, fracking involves drilling hundreds or even thousands of wells through groundwater aquifers - then pumping chemicals, sand, and water underground at high pressure to fracture deep rock formations in order to release trapped gas. Fracking is banned in many jurisdictions around the world due to community opposition and observed environmental impacts.
Western Australia is host to some of the world’s largest unconventional gas deposits, and several years ago CCWA identified the emerging fracking industry as a very large potential source of carbon pollution - and one of the most significant threats to our environment and communities.Though only a dozen unconventional gas wells have have been fracked so far in WA, we’ve already seen serious environmental impacts of fracking.
Under the Barnett Government, unconventional gas exploration licenses were issued across vast areas of the state - without any community consultation or environmental impact assessment - covering some of our most important groundwater aquifers, environment and tourism areas, farmland and Aboriginal lands.
Responding to this major threat, CCWA has been engaged in a significant multi-pronged campaign effort to prevent the development of the fracking industry here in WA.
Opposition to fracking was a major issue during 2017 State Election as CCWA’s Frack Free Future partnered with influential Western Australians including Tim Winton, John Butler, and Carmen Lawrence to highlight the dangers of this industry to a large audience. Through this and other efforts, Frack Free Future played a critical role in securing election commitments to a new policy approach on fracking from the McGowan Labor team.
Action taken by the McGowan Government in response to this campaign has so far included a fracking ban in the South West, Peel, and Perth regions, and a moratorium on fracking in other parts of the state pending a scientific inquiry into the impacts of fracking.
The strength behind this campaign has been the incredible community of support that has been generated across the state, led by CCWA and other partner organisations including Lock the Gate, The Wilderness Society, and Environs Kimberley, and working in close partnership with landowners and Traditional Owners.
Over the past year, CCWA’s Frack Free Future community has:
Grown to more than 20,000 people taking action across the state
Established Fracking Local Action Groups (FLAGs) to organise community events and other campaign activities in key communities
Influenced the WA Labor party platform at the 2017 State Conference and supported hundreds of community members to rally outside the conference
Published original academic research and hosted expert forums
Secured media coverage in print, online, and broadcast media, including television advertisements in the lead up to the 2017 State Election
Frack Free Future will continue to work with people, communities, businesses, and organisations across the state to secure a permanent ban on gas fracking in Western Australia.
It is with great hope and perseverance that the Nuclear Free WA campaign endured two terms of a pro nuclear government without a uranium mine becoming established anywhere in WA. Thanks to the dedicated community of people who who fought hard to maintain WA’s nuclear free status during this period, and thanks to our committed and tireless campaigner Mia Pepper who took maternity leave this year, and Kerry-Anne Garlick for ably stepping into this vacancy.
While this has been a major milestone for the campaign, we are conscious that as long as there is uranium in the ground there will be pressure to dig. The job of the Nuclear Free WA campaign is to hold WA Labor to their long standing no uranium policy and have a permanent ban on uranium mining legislated.
A significant focus this year has been responding to the environmental assessment process for three uranium mine proposals – Yeelirrie, Wiluna, and Mulga Rock. All three projects were granted state environmental approval in the weeks preceding the State Election, and Wiluna and Mulga Rock were also granted federal approval this year.
In June 2017, the McGowan Government declared that the ban on any new uranium mining proposals would be reinstated, however the four proposals granted environmental approval under the Barnett Government could proceed as there would be a perceived compensation risk if the projects were to be stopped.
In partnership with three Tjiwarl Native Title Holders, CCWA has begun proceedings in the Supreme Court this year to challenge the approval for the Yeelirrie proposal. This case is important in upholding our environmental laws and challenging a dangerous legal precedent allowing the extinction of species.
The low uranium price is assisting our efforts to keep WA nuclear free. We are pleased to report that the Kintyre uranium project in the East Pilbara was devalued in February 2017 by the proponent Cameco to a worthless status. We are confident Cameco will not proceed with this project at this time.
The proposed Vimy Resources Mulga Rock project in the Goldfields now appears to be the most likely uranium project to proceed. The project site is entirely within the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community and upstream from the Queen Victoria Springs A Class Nature Reserve. The area became a refuge for the Spinifex people who fled South Australia following the British Atomic Weapons tests at Maralinga in the 1950s, and used the Mulga Rock area for ceremony and burials. Despite this history, and the area being part of the Seven Sisters Songline, Vimy has continuously denied Aboriginal people’s connection to the area.
In 2017 we helped celebrate twenty years of national radioactive resistance by Aboriginal people in Adelaide on Kaurna land, with the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA), including a strong WA delegation supported by CCWA.
CCWA also supported the 7th Annual Walkatjurra Walkabout with Traditional Owners. The month long walk in the Goldfields region has been instrumental in strengthening connections to country and connecting and providing support for affected communities.
This year we also launched an ongoing ‘selfie’ photo campaign that has sent more than 400 photos to WA Labor so far. This campaign has and will continue to be used for projections around Perth and at future events.
As always, the nuclear free campaign has worked closely with Traditional Owners and communities affected by uranium proposals, to bring those voices to the city to meet with government and Members of Parliament, and to attend the annual general meetings of uranium miners. It has also been very important to assist communities in responding to the government assessment process of the uranium mine proposals.
Another important part of the campaign has been to maintain a constructive relationship with government agencies and regulators. We have met with the new Ministers for Mines and Petroleum and Environment to discuss mechanisms for ensuring the strictest possible standards are applied to any further assessments for the four approved uranium projects.
Over the year, CCWA in partnership with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), United Voice, and AMWU produced the Ensuring a Nuclear Free Future for WA booklet. The campaign has also continued to develop and strengthen working relationships with trade unions, health professionals, and academics to ensure a high level of critical analysis of the uranium industry in WA. These voices have supported and strengthened the credibility and integrity of the campaign.
Western Australia remains nuclear free and we remain resolute in our ambition to keep it that way.
Working in strategic partnerships and alliances to broaden and strengthen the community consensus in support of climate action and a just transition to renewable energy, is an essential part of CCWA’s work.
In 2017, CCWA was instrumental in bringing diverse organisations together to form the Renew WA Alliance. More than forty civil society and business organisations from a wide range of sectors endorsed the Renew WA Climate Change Consensus Statement in the lead up to the March State Election. This statement presents a blueprint for transitioning to a low carbon economy.
Supported by CCWA, the Renew WA Alliance held a series of significant events during the election campaign, involving eminent Australians such as Professor Fiona Stanley. Online and newspaper advertising was also purchased to combat anti-renewable energy campaigning by the Liberal Party of WA during the election, and to educate the community about the benefits of a renewable energy transition.
The Renew WA Alliance continues to play an active role in policy development, lobbying, and community engagement around priority climate change issues, and CCWA continues to support and actively participate in the Alliance.Back to Key Issues