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New WA Local Government climate policy shows the way forward

July 12, 2018
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WA’s peak environment group has welcomed the release of a new Climate Change Policy Statement by WA Local Governments. Endorsed by the WA Local Government Association’s State Council last week, the statement calls for urgent action, and strong leadership and coordination at all levels of government.

As well as committing local governments to action, the policy calls for the McGowan Government to “undertake a major revision and update of the 2012 climate change strategy, which was put in place by the Barnett Government”, and for the EPA to “take a stronger regulatory role in assessing and recommending conditions to mitigate the GHG emissions associated with major projects”.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said Local Governments were at the coal face of climate change impacts, and the new policy put them at the forefront of climate solutions.

“Local Governments are already bearing the very real costs of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and other impacts of climate change, so their voice should carry significant weight in climate policy.

“The commitment by Local Government to work towards limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees is strongly welcomed, however as the WALGA policy statement makes clear, this requires leadership from the State and Commonwealth Governments as well as action at the local level.

“WA Local Governments have made clear that it is not acceptable for the State Government to retain a policy on climate change which is an excuse to do nothing on the issue.

“The lack of a strategic approach to addressing climate change in WA means pollution growth in WA is now the biggest driver of Australia’s rising emissions, and will prevent Australia from meeting its international commitments under the Paris Agreement.

“Western Australia is the only state with no renewable energy target and no carbon pollution reduction target.

“This do-nothing approach is not only allowing pollution to rise rapidly, but is holding back our state from the jobs and economic benefits that could be attracted to WA as part of a new clean energy economy.

“We have abundant renewable energy resources, huge opportunity for carbon farming, world-class manufacturing and engineering expertise, and the potential for a high-value rare-earth battery industry.

“These are all areas of huge economic potential as part of a clean economy of the future, yet we currently lack the policy, strategy, and government support for these industries to realise this potential.

“The call from Local Governments for greater leadership and action on climate change is strongly welcomed and endorsed. CCWA and our members look forward to working with Local Governments to make this happen, and to deliver local action on climate change in WA,” concluded Mr Verstegen.

Key statements in the WALGA policy include:

  • Local Government is committed to contributing to national and international emissions reduction targets to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2° Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° Celsius
  • Local Government acknowledges that current worldwide commitments under the Paris Agreement are insufficient to achieve even the 2° Celsius goal. Recognising this, Local Government calls on the Commonwealth to show international leadership, by committing to a more ambitious Paris target
  • Local Government calls on the WA Government to: 
    - undertake a major revision and update of the 2012 climate change strategy, which was put in place by the Barnett Government
    - follow the lead of the other States and Territories and introduce a State-level renewable energy and/or emissions reduction target;
    - ensure that statutory planning policies are consistent with climate change mitigation priorities (eg, maintaining and increasing urban forest to reduce heat island effect, best practice building energy efficiency etc.); and 
    - drive mass LED public lighting retrofits, by addressing the regulatory hurdles and unaligned incentives that act as a disincentive to the uptake of low cost, energy efficient public lighting
  • Local Government calls on the EPA to take a stronger regulatory role in assessing and recommending conditions to mitigate the GHG emissions associated with major projects

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