28/08/2019 - 15:12

2050 net zero carbon target for WA

28/08/2019 - 15:12

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Western Australia will be carbon neutral by 2050 under an aspirational policy announced by the state government today, although it is not yet clear what mechanism will be used to achieve the goal.

2050 net zero carbon target for WA
Chevron is using carbon capture and storage at the Gorgon gas plant.

Western Australia will be carbon neutral by 2050 under an aspirational policy announced by the state government today, although it is not yet clear what mechanism will be used to achieve the goal.

It comes after the Environmental Protection Authority walked back from a move earlier this year to force all new major projects over a 100,000 tonnes annual emissions threshold to fully abate their carbon output.

The EPA had been undertaking a review of its greenhouse gas assessment guidelines, with submissions due to close next week.

Speaking in parliament today, Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the target would be aspirational.

“(The state) government acknowledges the Commonwealth government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 and commits to working with the Commonwealth to achieve this goal,” he said. 

“The McGowan government also acknowledges that businesses operating in Western Australia are bound to comply with obligations under the Australian government’s Safeguard Mechanism.”

Mr Johnston said project proposals that met the criteria of a designated large facility under the safeguard mechanism, or 100,000 tonnes per annum, would be subject to the policy, although the detail was light.

“Where major proposals are assessed under Part IV of the Act, the minister for environment will consider the particular characteristics of each project and the advice and recommendations of the EPA,” he said. 

“Consideration may then be given as to whether it is appropriate to apply a condition that sets out the requirements for a plan detailing the proponent's contribution towards achieving the government’s aspiration of net zero emissions by 2050.”

A spokesperson for the minister said the target was aspirational and would not be enforceable.

Woodside Petroleum chief executive Peter Coleman welcomed the announcement.

“Woodside welcomes the McGowan government’s commitment that its climate change policy will be aligned with the federal government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement," Mr Coleman said. 

“The state government has listened to industry and has taken an important step towards providing certainty for the major investments that will deliver jobs, opportunity and tax revenue to WA. 

“The WA Environmental Protection Authority must take the same approach as it consults on its proposed new guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions.”

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce said the policy aligned with the federal government’s position and reflected the importance of mining in the state’s economy.

“Mining companies are already working toward this objective and are actively taking steps to reduce their environmental impact, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and incorporate renewable energy technologies in their operations,” he said.

Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said the target was a first step towards a credible climate policy in the state, but was critical that the decision was made before the EPA had finished its own consultation.

“At present, WA is the only state with rising pollution," he said.

“Emissions growth in the WA LNG industry is cancelling out the gains that have been made in all other states.

““The key test of this policy is whether it will permit further short or medium-term pollution increases. 

“The suggestion that industry will be able to nominate their own short-term targets under this policy is concerning.

 “The McGowan government must now urgently set out an emissions reduction pathway for the state, which must be put into legislation. 

“This must deliver immediate pollution reduction.”

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