Premier Mark McGowan and Climate Action and Environment Minister Reece Whitby have announced today that Western Australia will be committing to a whole-of-government reduction target in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 80 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030. This commitment goes beyond that currently contained in the Western Australian Climate Policy. At this point, there is no indication that industry will be expected to commit to the same targets. However, we expect this commitment to send a strong signal to the broader economy and may influence regulator expectations.
The target will apply to emissions from all government agencies across the State, including transport, health and education, and emissions generated by government trading enterprises.
To help achieve this target, a range of initiatives to reduce the net emissions of Government will be pursued, including energy efficiency measures, procurement of renewable energy, reduced emissions in the Government vehicle fleet and the use of local offsets.
This commitment follows last week's announcement that Collie's two State-owned coal plants will close by late 2029 as part of a transition to cleaner energy, with Collie Power Station to close in late-2027 and Muja D in late-2029. State-owned Synergy will exit coal-fired power generation by 2030. Synergy is responsible for 98 per cent of the State Government's emissions. Assuming a smooth transition away from coal-fired power in the State, Synergy's carbon emissions will be reduced by 80 per cent by 2030, making the WA Government's new target for government agency emissions reduction eminently achievable.
The State Government has also committed to not building any new natural gas-fired power stations on the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) after 2030. Instead, an estimated $3.8 billion will be invested in new green power infrastructure in the SWIS – including wind generation and storage – to ensure continued supply stability and affordability.
What does this mean for industry?
There is currently no specific legislation in WA that mandates GHG emissions reductions for industry, with the government policy position largely delivered through Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) (EP Act), administered by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Revised draft guidance from the EPA is expected imminently on its expectations for GHG emissions from major projects requiring environmental impact assessment. Those expectations are currently set out in the Environmental Factor Guideline: Greenhouse Gas Emissions (EFG). The development of sectoral emissions reduction strategies (SERS) by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation will also continue.
Today's announcement has been made in the context of continued and rapidly evolving climate change policy and law in Australia. It is another clear signal to business and industry in Western Australia that climate action and emissions reduction is a priority for the State Government and that Western Australia is open for investment in renewable energy generation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.