Western Australia’s opposition leader has faced blowback from federal colleagues over an ambitious plan for a state Liberal government to reach net zero emissions by 2030.
Zak Kirkup on Thursday unveiled his “New Energy Jobs Plan”, promising to shut down coal-fired power stations by 2025 and deliver a massive wind and solar farm in the state’s Mid West to generate renewable energy.
Speaking ahead of the March 13 election, the first-term MP and rookie leader claimed that a $400 million state contribution could attract $16 billion worth of public and private capital investment over the next decade.
He also outlined goals to create 200,000 jobs over the next five years and to reduce state government emissions to zero by 2030 – two decades earlier than targeted by the state Labor government and the federal coalition.
“This mega-project will provide a meaningful contribution to reaching the global ambition of a clean energy future,” he said.
“We have the chance to show some leadership. If we don’t act now we will be left behind.”
Mr Kirkup said $100 million of the promised government funding would go towards helping coal workers transition to new jobs.
Federal Energy Minister and Liberal colleague Angus Taylor criticised the plan, saying governments should be focused on helping businesses to upgrade to energy efficient technologies.
“This is how it’s done,” he told Sky News.
“Not by closing coal-fired power stations prematurely, it’s by getting on and deploying those technologies in sensible commercial ways.”
WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt accused the Liberals of failing to model what the effect of such a plan would have on household power bills.
“The lack of experience of the WA Liberals will see Western Australians pay higher bills and higher taxes,” he said in a statement.
“It will destroy jobs, break communities, make electricity more expensive and lead to blackouts every summer.”
The WA Greens said the Liberals couldn’t be trusted on the environment.
But the plan was welcomed by the Conservation Council of WA, who said it showed leadership and had the potential to create thousands of jobs.
A report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre last year found that while greenhouse gas emissions have fallen nationally, they had grown by 12 per cent in WA over the past five years.
WA’s Environmental Protection Authority last year released tough new guidelines suggesting major new projects should be carbon-neutral.
But the recommendation was promptly withdrawn following industry backlash and fears it could jeopardise tens of billions of dollars worth of new LNG projects.