And in August, the state government allocated an additional $18.5 million to manage the impacts of coastal erosion and to protect WA’s coastline.
Farmers, too, have had their fair share of extreme events to contend with this year.
So with clear imperatives to reduce emissions and bolster our resilience – coupled with growing momentum nationally and internationally – WA has an opportunity to go from climate zero to climate hero.
And on Thursday, we will witness a potential first step in that direction, with a Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Bill to be tabled in State Parliament.
The private members bill will call for action this decade, with a 2030 interim emissions reduction target to get the ball rolling, to speed up a net zero transition. These targets will be aligned with Paris Agreement efforts, which have been adopted by multiple nation states and regions – including the United States, UK, China and the EU – as well as most Australian states, including NSW’s enhanced 2030 target announced earlier this month.
Setting a state target is significant for many reasons. For one, if we can only manage what we can measure, a target gives us metrics to measure, manage and track progress against. This creates accountability.
Just as importantly, a target sends a clear signal to the business and finance world that investments in low-carbon climate resilient infrastructure and activities are compatible with state goals. Ultimately, it will be key to driving innovation, technology and effort at scale.
So, if WA is to become a climate hero, what are our superpowers? The state contains multitude minerals essential for the transition to electrified transport and battery storage; is blessed with plentiful solar and wind resources; and has an abundance of land.
Most importantly, WA has the people to mobilise such powers. But without a target, efforts so far are piecemeal and need to become the norm rather than the exception.
At the same time and as a predominantly export-based economy, the climate policies of our trading partners may soon reverberate along value chains.
Fourteen of our largest 20 trading partners, covering over 80 per cent of our exports, have signed up to net zero emissions by mid-century. This could translate into carbon-border taxes, leaving us exposed and with potentially stranded assets.
While the gravitas of the climate challenge extends beyond politics, members of all persuasions are realising that we are quickly reaching a point where the cost of not acting on climate change is greater than acting. And the economic opportunities that we forego by not acting are just as compelling, and growing by the day.
Labour icons such as Sharan Burrow, now General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, is leading the way on global planning for a just transition to a low-carbon world and former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who famously declared climate change to be “the great moral challenge of our generation”, continues to support urgent action.