On July 12, state environment minister Donna Faragher approved an additional three coal-fired power stations in Western Australia. These power stations will contribute to a 75% increase in the state’s greenhouse emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Authority.
Of the three power stations, one is a brand new private sector development. The other two are older power stations that were built in the 1960s and have not been in use for some time, which will be expanded and refurbished. This will more than double the number of coal-fired power stations in Collie.
Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said the decision “will be seen as one of the biggest mistakes of the [Premier Colin] Barnett Government for many years to come”.
A new website set up by the Conservation Council (NoNewCoalWA.com.au) collected more than 1000 protesting against the decision in 48 hours and sent more than 1500 messages to the premier and environment minister. It is now directing messages to the federal government calling for an intervention to stop the expansion.
Ironically, on the same day that this decision was made, Trent Hawkins from Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) in Victoria was presenting plan for 100% renewable energy by 2020 to the WA-based Sustainable Energy Now.
BZE has convincingly demonstrated not only that renewable energy can meet all of our energy needs in Australia (including “baseload”), but that this can be achieved in a 10-year emergency push.
Kamala Emanuel from Safe Climate Perth told Green Left Weekly the 10-year time frame was important.
“Because Australia has the highest per capita emissions in the industrialised world and because there is already too much carbon in the atmosphere, we need an emergency push to sharply reduce our greenhouse pollution as quickly as possible”, she said.
Safe Climate Perth and the Conservation Council will campaign to have Faragher’s decision reversed. Opposing the new power stations will be a central theme of the Walk Against Warming on August 15.
[Alex Bainbridge is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth and is active in the campaign for 100% renewable energy.]