Update 16 October – WA Climate Bill – Call to Action

The WA government is trying to push through a Climate Change Bill with little public consultation.  They have given until 17th October for submission in a process that most people were completely unaware of. Please consider writing a submission.

The WA government has released the Climate Change Bill Explanatory Paper.

Members of the PHCCIG committee attended an information session about this on the 3rd October, along with representatives of 37 other groups.  Industry and Aboriginal stakeholder information sessions have also been held or are about to be held.  

The Bill will establish a target of net zero emissions for the government itself and some business sectors, (but not, it seems, the big emitters!) by 2050, will require the setting of interim targets, climate adaptation strategies and sector adaptation plans (except for those of the big emitters!) and annual reporting.

The big emitters are excluded from the Bill, on an apparent assumption that the EPA Greenhouse Gas guidelines and the Safeguard Mechanism cover the regulation of their emissions and offsets.  But due to the entanglement of industry and the WA Government, and the Australian Government, it’s not clear why this assumption can be considered credible.

The Australia Institute points out that the Climate Bill is a blow to national emission targets.

Briefing notes prepared by PHCCIG in collaboration with some other environment groups (such as Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Perth and Doctors for the Environment) before the information session included the following points (below).  A further briefing paper will be put together soon – we’ll keep you posted.

Here are some preliminary issues and questions about the Bill:

  • The proposed bill fails to require the WA Government to set a 2030 target in line with other states and the Commonwealth.
  • The proposed bill will do nothing to prevent more enormous new export gas projects, including Woodside’s North West Shelf extension, which would result in almost 400 million tonnes of emissions in WA, and 4.3 billion tonnes globally.
  • The explanatory paper for the proposed bill contains no measures to rein in the rapidly rising emissions of the gas industry, despite gas industry emissions making up almost the entire increase in WA’s energy emissions since 2005 and endangering Australia’s national emissions targets.
  • Official data shows that WA’s energy emissions have increased by 53% since 2005, driven by increased gas exports.
  • LNG emissions have increased by 26 million tonnes per year (400%) since 2005 and appear to account for almost the entire 26.8 million tonnes increase in energy emissions.
  • Fugitive emissions, mainly from the gas industry, are up an incredible 128% since 2005.
  • It seems that there is far too long a ‘lead time’ between the Act being approved and the Minister actually doing anything e.g. Emissions reduction strategy within 3 years, and Adaptation strategy within 5 years.
  • WA could potentially blow the national budget for emissions if they do not reduce support for the fossil fuel sector/mining.  They talk about sector adaptation for all sorts of sectors but not those ones
  • Query whether the determination of net emissions for Western Australia includes Scope 3 emissions (indirect e.g., transport, fuel etc used)
  • Query whether oil and gas producers are counted as ‘industry’, or whether they will continue to be exempt from emissions reduction initiatives.
  • Whilst they say offsets are a last resort in one paragraph, in others they talk quite a bit about ‘eligible’ offsets without defining eligibility.

It looks like there are good things

  • annual report on emissions and progress on targets.
  • explicitly linking to national and international targets
  • there are good intentions about using offsets as the last element of the mitigation hierarchy, but this will need to be monitored.

What we already know needs to be altered in the Bill

  1.  Targets in line with other States and the Commonwealth, and in line with the Glasgow Climate Pact and the Paris Agreement, which Australia is a signatory to, by reducing emissions by 45% by 2030
  2. The executive of WA is in the main too close to industry, which has special access and influence.  The Bill must be amended to ensure that the executive use their powers in accordance with the public trust that is given to them by the people of Western Australia. The standard of public interest includes young people and future children. Actions to hold the executive accountable must be included in the Bill or in other, aligned, legislation such as a Climate Integrity Act.
  3. The Bill must recognise the value of conserving intact native forests and woodlands. 
  4. Offsets should not be relied on in the Bill as their abatement value is largely unreliable. Where they are used, there should be a monitoring requirement outlined in the Bill.

For more information go to


Where to next?

As mentioned above, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is consulting with some key stakeholder groups. Consultations close on the 17th October – there is no general public consultation process in place. 

But – you can write a letter to the Minister, please do so before then.

Hon Reece Whitby, Minister for Environment; Climate Action; Racing and Gaming

Call for a public consultation phase.  Call for a delay in the introduction of the Bill to allow time for democratic due process.  Call for an understanding about how the proposed Bill will prevent a blow-out of the national emissions target.  Call for the introduction of a Climate Integrity Act … and anything else you think needs to be said!  The time to act is now!

Conservation and climate advocacy groups are starting to mobilise.  A briefing – and call to action- paper, will be ready soon. Please keep an eye on the PHCCIG website as you prepare your letter, and we’ll also email out to newsletter subscribers.  To subscribe go to our Newsletters page.