Not only do we need to investigate mitigation and adaptation opportunities, but we need to completely decarbonize our economy in less than 30 years. The next ten years are considered the ‘critical decade’ we need to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year to have any chance of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees.
Currently less than ten full time staff are employed in a dedicated Climate unit. Clean State proposes a new Minister with responsibility for Climate Change, and a supercharged climate change unit within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, with at least 50 full time staff.
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Decarbonizing government-owned and leased buildings
Government spending now to reduce future expenditure through reduced energy and fuel bills
is the perfect stimulus model.
WA’s public sector represents one of the lowest hanging fruits for decarbonisation. It’s WA’s highest employer, with almost 120,000 people working across 19 different departments and entities.
The government currently owns and runs 80 hospitals another 20 buildings and holds 500 private leases covering 560,000 square meters of office space. (Clean State’s plan to decarbonize all 870 public schools is covered earlier in this Plan.)
Improving the energy efficiency of all government-owned buildings presents a massive economic stimulus and is one of the best opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment.
A whole of government approach to procurement and projects funded by government would also be an easy and effective way to show leadership and become carbon neutral in its operations.
Decarbonising the government fleet: 8000 EVs
The Department of Finance leases and finances 8907 passenger and light commercial vehicles. Of these, just two are electric and 114 are electric/hybrid.
In addition to the fleet, there are another 251 agency-owned vehicles and fleets for government trading enterprises such as the Water Corporation, which includes 92 trucks and vans.
The $280 million fleet contract is coming up for review in 2021 and provides the perfect opportunity to phase in an electric fleet.
This initiative would save up to $23m per year in fuel costs and the higher price of EVs in the short term would be more than recovered through fuel savings.167 It would also save thousands of dollars being spent every year to offset emissions from the government fleet.
Committing to phasing in an all-electric fleet would also be the single biggest way government could help drive EV prices down for private owners and spur investment in EV recharging infrastructure.
- Establish a Minister for Climate Change and employ 50 new staff in a large, cross-government Climate Action and Jobs Unit to coordinate action on climate change across the whole of government and all sectors of the WA economy. ($5m/yr)
- Commit to becoming a carbon neutral government by 2025 and develop a plan to achieve this.
- Launch an ambitious program to audit and retrofit 600 government owned and leased buildings with energy efficiency and solar power by 2025, starting with WA’s 80 hospitals. ($10m/yr)
- Convert the government’s 8000-strong car and commercial vehicle fleet to electric by 2025, starting immediately with the 2021 fleet contract review.
- Offset unavoidable government emissions (including from Government Trading enterprises) through investment in a Carbon and Land Restoration Fund (see separate initiative).
- Establish a revolving fund to support Local Government to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities with a payback of less than 5 years.