A State in Denial - Greenhouse Gases Unabated
As the primary regulator of industry in our state, our State Government should play a key role in facilitating the transition from a carbon intensive economy to a low carbon, clean economy.
However the current State Government has no policy on how we will support the Commonwealth in meeting Kyoto and National targets, and it sets no articulated targets of its own.
While major 'covered sector' carbon emitters must report to the Commonwealth Government, our State Government doesn't have full access to these records and does not consider the cumulative effect of greenhouse gas emissions when considering major industry proposals.
To ensure that realistic data on Western Australia's current and future greenhouse gas emissions is available to the public, the Office of Robin Chapple MLC has reviewed publicly available data from the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGER), WA Environmental Protection Authority reports, and sourced information from companies directly.
Development without appropriate emissions strategies paves an inefficient and environmentally unsustainable road for WA.
The findings of this research are disturbing. In the coming decade, when we should be constraining the growth of carbon emissions and making clear plans to reduce our future emissions, we are instead set to increase our greenhouse gas emissions vastly and rapidly.
Western Australia's emissions in 1990, the benchmark year for Kyoto Agreements, were 52.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), and by 2010 this had grown to 74.3 million tonnes.
Our research shows that emissions are now in the region of 85 million tonnes of CO2e per annum.
The most worrying finding of this research is that pending industrial development is set to emit a further 83 to 128 million tonnes per annum.
These new projects, could see our emissions more than double during the coming decade, and more than triple that of our reporting base year of 1990.
This figure is incomplete with respect to WA's total emissions due to business and industry often being unwilling or unable to share current emissions data with this Office, which could effectively mean this total is much higher in reality than even this research can show.
The impact of future developments on our State emissions profile is staggering. The figures below represent a snapshot of the current and projected emissions profile of the mining, manufacturing and resources industries in this state if left unchecked.
Pending major resources projects in WA at current analysis will total 83Mtpa. If these projects operate at full scale, emissions are projected to increase to 128Mtpa.
This does not however represent all projects that are pending approval, and if the open door policy to facilitate mining and resources development continues unabated, so too will the steep trajectory of our emissions profile.
Equity and Efficiency
It is important to note that while mining and resources industries contribute greatly to the Gross State Product, they contribute even more to the emissions profile of WA.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates a significant market failing, in that the carbon profile of these industries appears to be higher than their contribution to the State's economy.
It’s Time for a Low Carbon Commitment
The agenda is clear for a forward thinking State Government. Western Australia needs to be planning and investing in a low carbon economy with the same passion it has demonstrated for facilitating the carbon intensive mining and fossil fuel sectors. It must consider the sustainability of this state beyond this finite period of resources driven prosperity.
This Office considers industrial development left unmeasured and unmonitored, with no clear commitment to disclose emissions profiles, or manage emissions and energy use, tantamount to negligence on the part of the State. We suggest that all future development be required to submit a publicly available emissions statement for the life of the project.