WA environment peak body highlights absence of WA Budget measures to protect nature amid planned fossil gas expansion

Conservation Council of WA

The Conservation Council of WA has expressed disappointment that, in the midst of ongoing WA nature collapse and increasing WA fossil fuel emissions, the 2024 WA Budget contains little to address WA’s role in the climate crisis or defend WA’s nature.

The 2024 State Budget, handed down today by WA Treasurer Rita Saffioti, provides little to mitigate the impacts of climate change on nature and our environment, despite WA just experiencing its hottest and driest summer on record.

The costs of climate change are escalating with 2.8 billion dollars allocated for desalination due to the drying climate, requiring investment in mitigation of climate change to reduce future costs of adapting to a hot and dry climate.

WA remains the only state in Australia without a 2030 emissions reduction target, while recent figures from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water reveal that WA annual emissions increased 12% in the last reporting period.

The final Budget before the 2025 state election provided an opportunity for the Cook government to deliver meaningful funding to protect nature and the places we love. Instead, the WA budget reinforces the state government plans to weaken WA’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) instead of strengthening WA’s nature protections to defend the places we love.

It comes on the same day the Albanese Labor government announced its Future Gas Strategy, which plans to commit Australia to polluting fossil gas expansion for decades to come.

Today’s announcement caved in to gas industry pressure to back in decades more fossil fuel extraction, including support for new gas projects, and led to an immediate protest outside the electorate office of federal Resources Minister Madeleine King.

Jess Beckerling, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of WA, said:

“It’s been a very dark day for climate and nature.

“The budget reflects the government’s priorities, and what we’ve seen today is that despite earlier promises, both the State and Federal governments are going in precisely the wrong direction on climate and nature.

“While Roger Cook has failed to outline any meaningful plans to act on climate or protect our precious and diminishing natural environment, we’ve also had Anthony Albanese betray the community and future generations by doubling down on fossil fuels.

“The community would be right to be deeply disappointed in both Labor Governments today.”

Anna Chapman, Fossil Fuels Program Manager at the Conservation Council of WA, said:

“It is disappointing that the 2024 WA Budget contains little to mitigate WA’s role in the worsening climate crisis or to defend WA’s nature at a time of ecoystem collapse. Our state has just experienced its hottest and driest summer on record, causing forest collapse in the South West and loss of wildlife like the tragic deaths of more than 100 turtles at Bibra Lake last week.

“Western Australia is already feeling the harsh impacts of climate change. We are the only state without a 2030 emissions reduction target and the only state where emissions continue to rise above 2005 levels. The latest Commonwealth figures released last month show that WA’s annual emissions increased by 12% over the last reporting period.

“The 2024 Budget presented a crucial opportunity to mitigate WA’s role as the engine room of Australia’s emissions and to protect our magnificent landscapes, unique wildlife and precious biodiversity. However, this Budget falls short of what is necessary to effectively tackle climate change and its impacts and doesn’t meet the expectations of the WA public as we head towards an election next year. The WA Government must stop the erosion of the WA EPA and strengthen nature laws to defend nature and the places we love.”

Speaking this morning after a protest outside the WA electoral office of federal Resources Minister Madeleine King, the President of the Conservation Council of WA, Dr Richard Yin, responded to the government’s Future Gas Strategy as follows:

“The Labor government has betrayed the Australian people by caving in to pressure from the gas industry. The government’s support for dirty gas, including fracking, is a disaster for local communities and for a safe climate future. This rebadging of Scott Morrison’s gas-led recovery is a wish list for industry that locks in fossil fuel emissions for decades to come.

“In WA, we know that the vast majority of gas produced here is exported offshore and does nothing to keep the lights on at home. If WA were its own country, it would be the third largest gas exporter in the world. Projects like Woodside’s Burrup Hub and Chevron’s Gorgon project will emit billions and billions of tonnes of carbon emissions for decades to come. We know from direct experience the cost of gas to our environment, our families, and our future.

“A clean energy future cannot be based on more fossil fuels. Gas is a dirty, expensive fuel that pushes up costs. Carbon capture is a fanciful technology – it does not work and it cannot be relied on as part of any serious, responsible national strategy. The only thing it has successfully achieved is to extend the life of the fossil gas industry.

“Despite this, the Albanese government has chosen to keep exporting this toxic product instead of helping the world transition away from fossil fuels. The government has made a major wrong turn today that is deeply out of step with Australian values. The government has sided with giant fossil fuel companies instead of backing the science, the community and the moral imperative of addressing the climate crisis. This government’s gas strategy endangers a safe climate future.

“We will be working with the West Australian community across our state to ensure we place WA and the country on a sensible, sustainable track towards renewable energy and a safe climate. This demands a rapid and fair transition away from new fossil fuels, which means an end to gas industry expansion.”

/Public Release.