A greener WA would boost the state’s economy by $16 billion
12 November 2020 at 8:00 am
WA has the lowest proportion of renewable electricity generation of any state in Australia
Building a more sustainable Western Australia would not only reduce the state’s environmental footprint, but also create 55,000 jobs, new analysis shows.
A Curtin Economics Centre report explores opportunities for WA to reduce the negative environmental impact of different industries and offers a roadmap for the state to transition to a more sustainable economic future.
While there is a national trend of falling greenhouse emissions in Australia this is not the case in WA, where emissions have grown by 12 per cent in the past five years.
The mining sector accounts for 40 per cent of the state’s emissions, and creates 3.5 times more mining waste than Australia’s second largest producer in Queensland.
Report co-author Professor Alan Duncan said diversifying into more sustainable industries such as renewable power generation, lithium mining and processing would lead to greater economic value and better employment opportunities for WA.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the WA economy, which will be felt for years to come. It is essential to balance future economic growth with achievable targets to reduce the state’s environmental footprint,” Duncan said.
“By doing this, 55,000 additional jobs could be created across industries such as specialised grain and livestock farming and the expansion of scientific services, 49,000 of which would be based in regional WA, while also boosting the state’s economy by an estimated $16 billion.”
Air pollution, land use, water security and waste management were identified in the report as some of the biggest challenges facing WA.
Duncan noted that Australia’s per capita air pollution emissions were the highest in the OECD and sixth highest worldwide.
“There is a critical need to address and take action on global warming by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by both industries and households,” he said.
WA also has the lowest proportion of renewable electricity generation of any Australian state – sitting at 8.9 per cent.
Fellow report co-author Dr Silvia Salazar noted WA was one of only two states without a renewable energy target.
She said introducing a “bold but achievable target” would help drive greater renewable energy investment and reduce emissions.
“The development of smarter buildings, more efficient industries and better use of resources will help to reduce energy use and WA’s greenhouse footprint, while also saving households money,” Salazar said.
“Our report estimates that simple measures such as double glazing, integrated window shading, and decreasing air leakage can save households $681 per year in energy bills, or around $34,000 over 50 years.”
Water security was also identified as a major concern, with WA households using 26 per cent more water than the average Australian household.
Salazar said WA could do a lot more to reduce its energy, water and waste consumption.
“Adopting a circular economy where most of our resources are recycled and reused, and implementing simple things like making sure all households have access to an organic waste bin, will mean that we can get the most out of the goods [and also] look after our environment,” she said.