Freo pushes zero-carbon recovery

FREMANTLE council will urge WA premier Mark McGowan to reintroduce a controversial 100 carbon offset for the LNG industry when he drafts this year’s state budget.

On Wednesday the council endorsed a letter from WA Conservation Council offshoot Clean State urging the premier to adopt a low-carbon stimulus package to steer WA through the Covid-19 recovery phase.

The letter also calls for the state to adopt a 100 per cent renewable electricity target, phase in electric buses as part of a zero-carbon transport network, transition away from logging native forests, and install solar panels, insulation and energy-saving appliances in the state’s 40,000 social housing dwellings to drive down bills.

Lobbied

Proposed carbon offsets for major WA resource projects were controversially withdrawn by the Environmental Protection Agency just hours after Mr McGowan was lobbied by top executives from some of the world’s biggest resource companies on March 14 last year.

Mr McGowan said he rang EPA chairman Tom Hatton shortly after the meeting, but denies pressuring him to withdraw the proposal.

The letter from Clean State says it has research showing low-carbon industries create more jobs than fossil fuel-based areas for the same amount of investment. It noted South Korea’s post-GFC stimulus package allocated 80 per cent ($31 billion) to green measures and it had bounced back faster than the OECD average.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the council also voted to support nine principles adopted by the Mayors of the C40 Climate Leadership Group.

Aiming for for a “healthy, equitable and sustainable” recovery from the pandemic, the principles include investing in strategies to deal with the climate crisis, celebrating and adequately compensating essential workers and being guided by health and science expertise.

The motion was introduced by councillor Rachel Pemberton, who said there were tangible reasons why the council should address the issues with higher levels of government.

“Look at what is happing at Port Beach; this is climate change happening in front of us and is costing the council millions,” Cr Pemberton said.

“I think it is the remit of council to say what we think the government needs to do to help us do our job.”

Cr Pemberton said she is also reflecting the views of Fremantle ratepayers, who are very switched on to issues of climate change and regularly raise the topic with her.

South ward councillor Marija Vujcic said while the statement of principles was “admirable” she had voted against the motion.

Jumble

“I struggle with statements like: ‘Climate action can help accelerate economic recovery and enhance social equity, through the use of new technologies and the creation of new industries and new jobs’. This is just a jumble of words. Actions speak louder than words,” Cr Vucjic said.

She proposed an alternative motion calling for a cost analysis of any recovery programs and incentives to determine their benefit to ratepayers, but couldn’t get a seconder.

By STEVE GRANT

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